Wednesday, January 22, 2020

And There Was No Violence

     Monday's Lobby Day at Virginia's state capitol came and went without anything more untoward than one attendee who managed to get herself arrested for wearing a mask.  Upwards of twenty thousand people showed up, people of every hue and a wide assortment of political beliefs, and a lot of the people outside the official no-gun perimeter were visibly armed with big ol' evil-looking rifles, and nobody fired a shot.  Nobody so much as got into a fistfight.

     It would have taken just one malign fool -- and nobody wanted to be That Guy bad enough, while many people had already decided they weren't going to let anyone be That Guy.  It worked.  The Press seemed a little let down.

     Did the effort help?  Maybe.  Some.  If you live in Virginia and gun rights matter to you, vote carefully and keep writing your elected officials.  It's going to take a lot of convincing.

*  *  *

     Tuesday's Post-Impeachment Senate Trial in our nation's Capitol got underway without anything more untoward than some Senators struggling to stay awake and a rare opportunity for members of the House and Senate to snipe at one another.  They are inherently at odds -- the senior body slow, deliberative and resistant to change while the junior one is scrappy, (relatively) quick to act and responsive to the electorate.  The spectacle of the House lecturing the Senate, and the Senate getting its back up over it, is rare indeed.  Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schiff were bowed up like tomcats.

     High points included a network news analyst quoting another pundit, "Never underestimate the amount of hard work the U. S. Senate won't do," and the delicious realization that the trial was proceeding under rules from the Andrew Johnson impeachment trial: the Senators (and everyone else) are "commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment."  For a modern touch, no personal electronic devices were allowed in.  The entire Senate had to sit down, shut up, and at least pretend to pay attention.

     Low points?  I'm not too keen on this rule where they start in the afternoon and run for at least twelve hours.  It was criticized by Senate Democrats and they've got a point; it makes for long days and may tend to keep any real dramatic points a little less visible in live coverage.  The flip side is, we can't have the circus in town for a month or more.  The Senate does have other things to do.  Another downer: this isn't as neat and tidy as the courtroom scenes in an episode of Perry Mason.  It's a real trial, run by people with law degrees or at least a keen personal interest in rules and procedure.  A lot of the trial will be as dull as ditchwater.

     Politics is what we do instead of fighting in the streets, and if takes some dull stretches to keep it that way, I'm in favor of of them.  The underlying fight is no less intense for all that it is cloaked in high-sounding language and procedures first formulated in the late 18th Century.  Don't kid yourself -- Madison and the other Framers knew this day would come.  You don't add a utility to the firmware if you don't think it will ever be needed.

1 comment:

pigpen51 said...

I am following the Senate deliberations with a somewhat jaded eye. The fact is, the outcome is mostly predetermined,unless some sudden,new revelation is found that actually shows that the president was involved in more than what he is being accused of. His Republican party members, I would hope,could not stand by and let him get away with some high crimes and misdemeanors,that truly rise to that level, instead of simply tossing a few accusations at the wall and hoping something might stick.
You were right about this being a very historic event, and the fact that it needs to hold our attention, as well as that of our youth. The 16-18 year old people of today, will be the adults in the room, when perhaps this very thing may face our nation once more, and it is just good practice to at least have some idea of how things happen,and why.
I am old enough to have seen both the Bill Clinton affair and the Richard Nixon debacle, as well. And I think that the congress got it right both times.

With Bill Clinton, while his transgressions were vile, and almost rose to the level of crimes, it would have set a bad precedent for future cases that could possibly come. The reason for impeachment as envisioned by the founders was as a last resort thing, that would get rid of an extreme and runaway president. Clinton,while perhaps an immoral or even amoral piece of garbage, was still able to fulfill the duties of his office,with nothing holding him back.
With Richard Nixon,it was a different case. While he did not himself commit the break in at the Watergate hotel, he did try to cover it up, and even went so far as to get rid of the special prosecutor. Any chance for him to continue as an effective leader was gone, due to his established persona, and to his unrepentant attitude. Those things, along with the extreme nature of his crime, dictated that he would not survive an impeachment trial in the Senate.
Knowing this, and perhaps partly to avoid the harm that it could cause the nation as well, he chose to resign,rather than to face the prospects of being forced out.

It is interesting to note that years later, Nixon became somewhat of an elder statesman for the Republicans, and even was hired to broker a deal between the MLB owners and the players, to end a players strike. He was a very complicated man, that is for sure. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, continued on in his office of president, and was able to get things done by reaching across the aisle, and working with members of both parties. That is one of Clinton's strengths,he is a charming, personable man, who has a near photographic memory. And he seems to have instincts that are always right on the money, when it comes to political issues. His personal life, of course, is a mess.

It will be interesting to see what happens once the impeachment trial is done, and assuming that the result is no removal from office, what Trump will do and how he will repay those who have put him in this position. I would like to think that he would be magnanimous, and let it go,and get on with the business of running our country, but I am not holding my breath, if I understand Trump's temperament at all. I think that he is the type who not only will hold a grudge, but will not rest until he has paid back anyone who was involved with the impeachment for the Democrats. The one who will suffer will be the American people, not the Democrats.