Sunday, October 13, 2019

Liberals should listen to their own intellectuals about the impeachment witch hunt

As a virtual founding member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, there are precious few liberals whom I hold in high regard. These are men of principle but they are almost always wrong on policy because they are always wrong in philosophy. A few of the few are former Senator Joe Lieberman, constitutional scholars Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley and media members Geraldo Rivera and Matt Taibbi (see my footnote at the end).

With the exception of Lieberman (so far), all have been vocal in their alarm-sounding about the current push by Democrats and commercial media to impeach President Donald Trump and remove him from office.  Every one of those speaking out say that this is going too far too fast; that the people behind it are worse than the man they're targeting; that their motives are corrupt and that only great harm can come to this Republic if it isn't halted. The brinksmanship is dangerous and it has the potential to escalate into catastrophe no one can predict.

Dershowitz first, arguing that the Founding Fathers would refuse to impeach Trump:
[T]he case for impeaching President Trump based on the available evidence is extremely weak. The phone call to the president of Ukraine may have been ill advised, but that is a judgment for voters to make. There is nothing in the call that even approaches the constitutional criteria for impeachment and removal of a president. Nor does the special counsel report contain evidence that would justify impeachment. Democrats are seeking to weaponize the Constitution for partisan purposes.

This is not the first time in our history this has happened. Both President Johnson and President Clinton were improperly impeached. Johnson committed no crime, and if Clinton committed a crime, it was not a high crime. It was a low crime involving his personal conduct. Only President Nixon was properly subjected to impeachment and the prospect of removal because he had committed high crimes.
I disagreed with Dershowitz in 1998 and I still do, now. It was proper to impeach Clinton. In my view, lying under oath about anything is a high crime. But in retrospect it was proper for the Senate to acquit him and that the shame of impeachment was punishment enough.

To our knowledge, President Trump hasn't been untruthful about the call with President Zelensky. You may find it improper, but Trump has been blatantly open and honest about it, and we have to take Zelensky's word that he felt no pressure from his American counterpart.

Taibbi next, who says that while he finds Trump to be detestable, he holds those driving this train in even worse regard.
My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump’s early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don’t see this because they’re not used to waking up in a country where you’re not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don’t understand that this predicament is worse than having a bad president.

The Trump presidency is the first to reveal a full-blown schism between the intelligence community and the White House. Senior figures in the CIA, NSA, FBI and other agencies made an open break from their would-be boss before Trump’s inauguration, commencing a public war of leaks that has not stopped.
Taibbi outlines a set of 10 different examples in which the intelligence elites selectively and salaciously leaked information designed to damage Trump's legitimacy and credibility. Then they offer "expert commentary" on their own manufactured press. They started almost the day after Trump's inauguration and continue to this day.

This is the stuff you'd expect from a spy thriller by John Le Carre or Robert Ludlum but with the technological proficiency of Tom Clancy. Only this isn't fiction. It's really happening.

Rivera says that this is a railroad job, and it's running over due process afforded by all three of the Presidents who faced impeachment before Trump:
RIVERA: Well the Democrats have an adoring media, the drumbeat has been incessant. The president hasn't adequately confronted -- I think the addition of Trey Gowdy will be helpful to have some -- a strong, experienced, former prosecutor, former congressperson, you know, taking some of the, some of the public heat from the president. And keep steering it back to the fundamental, the fundamental question. You cannot allow the Democrats to proceed with any kind of righteousness unless they abide by constitutional due process. 
My God, it is simple. Unless this Congress votes, unless the House votes -- they'll probably win the vote if they have the vote, but unless they do vote, then the Republicans have no rights, they subpoena, can subpoena no one. Where is the fairness in this? At some point the American people will see through the propaganda and demand the vote, as the president does, whether they love him or loathe him -- as I said, it doesn't matter pro-Trump, anti-Trump, that doesn't matter. What matters is, he's the president of the United States, and the historic precedent in the 20 and 21st Century, the person accused in this most profound, distressing experience for any president deserves to have fairness. Just as any defendant in any court. I know it's a political process, but even politics has to depend in some measure on precedent. Precedent here is clear. Nixon, they voted in '74. Clinton, they voted in '98. Why is Nancy Pelosi not allowing this Congress to vote?
The answer until October 15 is that Pelosi announced the beginning of this game on the eve of a two-week recess. Congress hasn't been in session since September 27, 2019 and Pelosi refused to cancel the recess period. Pelosi has no excuse beginning from the opening gavel on Tuesday.

Rivera has said that while he considers Donald Trump a personal friend, he thinks Hillary Clinton should have been elected President and that he opposes almost everything Trump stands for, from tax cuts to immigration and all policy points in between. But even a staunch liberal knows a due process rat when he smells one.

Lastly is Turley's wondering aloud about the lack of Oxygen given to the possibility that Trump's alleged illegal behavior uncovered actual criminal wrong-doing by well-connected Democrats, namely the Bidens:
For those brave enough to read on, I wish to dispense with one threshold issue: I was critical of claims over the last three years of “proven” crimes and impeachable offenses in the Russia investigation. However, the first day that Trump’s Ukraine call was disclosed, I stated that — if a quid pro quo were proved — the alleged self-dealing with military aid would be an impeachable offense. My point: Raising concerns over Hunter Biden does not mean you are excusing Trump’s actions.

What is most remarkable about the paucity of coverage of Hunter Biden’s dealings is the conclusory mantra that “this has all been investigated.” Many TV hosts prefer to focus on President Trump’s dubious claim that former Vice President Joe Biden forced the firing of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor to protect his son. I, too, fail to see compelling evidence to support Trump’s charge. ...

All of this should be of some interest to the media, which has exhaustively — and rightfully — pursued foreign deals by the Trump family. And there is no reason why the media cannot pursue allegations against both the Trumps and the Bidens.

That, however, would counter the narrative that there’s “nothing wrong” with Hunter Biden’s dealings and that it’s all a “lie” that’s best to ignore.
The four distinct points made here are:

  1. This is an impeachment that is at best no more justifiable than either Johnson's or Clinton's.
  2. The people pushing it are a bigger threat to democratic government than the man they're after.
  3. The absence of due process is un-American.
  4. All eyes are only and unfairly skewed against the President and the bias taints the whole process.

These four people are not wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. Absolutely no one with a straight face can label them Trump supporters. Rudy Guiliani is a Trump mouthpiece. These gentlemen are diametric opposites.

Dershowitz argued forcefully against Bill Clinton's impeachment, as did Rivera. Turley also argued against Clinton's impeachment. Two years later, Turley angered both liberals and conservatives when he argued that the 2000 election was botched in Florida but that the U.S. Supreme Court was right that the recounts in that state were unconstitutional.

Taibbi was only 29 when Clinton was impeached and didn't launch his "gonzo" style of journalism until 2002, but he's the author of the controversial book Insane Clown President. When Taibbi says he's more scared of the intelligence elites than he is President Trump, you should pay attention to him. A Trump victory in this confrontation only gets him to the next election. A win for the intelligence elites puts this country on a path where no public light will ever be allowed to shine.

I include Taibbi because of his principled opposition to conservatism but also his keen insight into the social and cultural environment that gave us President Trump. It's my belief that President Trump's election is a symptom, not the cause of our problems. His belief is very similar. Unlike Taibbi though, I believe Trump is actually doing what his voters thought they were getting and he could actually correct some of the problems that led to his ascendancy. 


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