The Not-Debate of the Impeachment Trial

Seems like forever since I stopped by. I have been writing this blog for 14 years, but never consistently. But I had a thought.

I find the most interesting thing about the impeachment trial is that it is a thorough mockery of dialectic. There is no actual debate, no meeting of the minds. All those doors were closed long ago, and well before the current administration. Probably the last time the U.S. Senate functioned as a forum for reason was Watergate, and that’s optimistic. A pessimist would say it never has, and ultimately the Senate is merely a place to display power.

Not exercise it. Display it. Mostly McConnell’s, of course.

The Senate is the accoutrements only. The desks, the formalities, the procedure, all stifling thought rather than germinating it. There is no more constitutional republic in that room than in a high school study hall. I don’t see how Sanders or Warren or Romney or any of them can stand to be in that stage play for more than a minute or two.

The “legal reasoning” deployed by Trump’s defense team is roughly the same to that employed by Preston Brooks on Charles Sumner’s skull in 1856. I suppose I should give them some credit, though, in their shamelessness; unlike Brooks, they performed their hit in front of the full Senate and C-SPAN. No reason. No rationality. No respect. Just power.

The next decade will be rough for Democrats, I suspect. But when the political pendulum swings back hard, as it always does when it swings too far in one direction, the GOP’s ongoing bizarre fling with cultist would-be fascism will be more clearly seen as a huge miscalculation in expediency.

I say this as the trial is really a political choice between keeping Trump, and Pence serving the rest of the term. This is the GOP’s last chance to eject Trump and reforge a more moderate-friendly party before the 2020 election. They would have had to sell it carefully because agreeing with Democrats on anything is dangerous for their reelections, and they could have done so if they had built the case slowly over a year or so, but no serious groundwork has been laid, so acquittal is a foregone conclusion. They are with Trump all the way.

The reasoning (cough) seems to be that Trump, unpredictable and dangerous as he is, has such a lock on the “base” that this is preferable to the more malleable and passive Pence, who might not be able to retain the most rabid Trump cultists in the swing states.

But that’s a short-sighted solution for November 2020. After that, it gets darker. When Trump is acquitted, he will be uncontrollable. Answerable to no one. If you think the Ukraine call was bad, just wait. No one will be able to rein him in. No amount of evidence will blunt his actions. I don’t know what form his eventual overstep will take. But it won’t be good. He’s not getting better. And then this trial will be a clear missed opportunity.

If I were a conscience-free GOP senator, which I am not, I’d be moving toward Pence. Or, rather, I would have moved toward Pence in 2017. Same policies, more predictable. I wonder if this happened already in a few cases, and we simply haven’t heard about it yet. Perhaps Bolton’s book, or someone else’s, will reveal 25th amendment scenarios that never played out.

Rough seas ahead. Brace yourselves.