There’s one overriding reason I favor going ahead with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump: We cannot allow these violent fanatics on the extreme right to intimidate us.
These insane hooligans have threatened deadly mayhem again if the Senate goes ahead with the trial, and they need to be crushed if they try. In all probability they won’t. It’s probably another terrorist scare tactic, but it’s working to the extent that the presence of thousands of National Guard troops is turning Washington into an armed camp. However, what is to be gained besides putting the crazies in their place if they really try something?
The answer is not much. It’s painful to agree with the majority of Republicans who have sold out any self-respect they might have had to the fear of Trumpo (who is really a study in pathetic), but they have a point. As Sen. Rand Paul — that great philosopher of Americanism (that’s sarcasm, folks) — stated, “This impeachment is nothing more than a partisan exercise designed to further divide the country.” In other words, it’s a whole lotta nothing, since all but five senators in the GOP have decided to kiss the ring of the Don — or some other part of his anatomy.
Little will get done. Censure is laughable. It’s even debatable whether Trump would be free to run again if that’s what he wanted to do next time around.
Democrats can talk about legal accountability all they want. Donald Trump, as president, clearly did incite a seditious lynch mob to attack the Capitol building, the Constitution and democracy itself. It’s beyond comprehension why most Senate Republicans would continue to effectively support him. But that’s what they are doing. Implicitly, they are attacking the very reason they’re in Congress to begin with, which is to symbolize a working free government. But they have apparently given up on that. Democrats must calculate whether the emotional catharsis of a symbolic victory against Donald Trump is necessary or if they can get past this and try to undo the damage he’s done to this nation over his four-year nightmare.
Maybe that’s why many in Congress want to leave Trump in the dark of Mar-a-Lago and avoid giving him one more day in the sun — or week, or whatever it takes to get past an impeachment that has no practical effect because only five Republicans support it. That’s way short of the votes needed, so they should get on with the job of rescuing the country from the devastation that has left us enfeebled.
“To do a trial knowing you’ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time right now,” said Tim Kaine. “My top priority is COVID relief and getting the Biden cabinet approved.”
It’s actually a lot more than COVID and getting the cabinet approved. It’s rejoining the effort to save the planet from the ravages of climate change. It’s getting back on the road to racial equality. It’s rebounding from a vicious immigration policy. The list goes on and on.
Besides, a more practical punishment for Donald Trump is turning him over to the legal system, where he faces the real prospect of imprisonment and financial ruin, as opposed to something symbolic.
As for the terrorists, the mutant zealots might show up. Homeland Security just issued a statement that these “violent domestic extremists” were emboldened by the attack on the Capitol and have become simply another fact of life contorted by Donald Trump’s presidency. Even more complicated is re-establishing our nation on the world stage. But it has to start at home, in an effort to escape the Donald Trump legacy as quickly as we can.
(Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.)
© 2021 Bob Franken
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