I’m still mired in last week. I’ll cover at least some of my obsessions in this article. I’ve never thought much of President Trump’s intelligence. I certainly don’t think he is a genius or very stable for that matter. Last week he outdid himself to prove me correct. Let’s explore.
Trump spent a few days in New York City for the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings. He was accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump who did her impersonation of an extra in a Robert Palmer video. Last year he was openly laughed at as he spoke. This year he was upstaged and schooled by a sixteen year old schoolgirl. Unfortunately I don’t think Trump is bright enough to have learned a lesson. When he had his opportunity to address the body he did what he does best – he lied. He spoke of how he is a defender of religious freedom. Can you say Muslim Ban?
While at the UN the impeachment inquiry announcement hit. On his way out of New York Trump spoke to the American delegation in a traditional farewell. He took the opportunity to talk about how spies should be executed. Doesn’t he realize that the majority of the assembled were career diplomats or American spies under the cover of a diplomatic assignment? My advice is to save those speeches for Bubba when you visit Alabama.
One of the many things I do that Trump doesn’t is read a lot of books. Maybe that accounts for why Trump thinks the “book report” version of a phone call is a transcript of the call. At this writing a whistleblower’s report and a phone call are at the heart of Ukrainegate. Trump released the “transcript” of what he claimed was a perfect phone call. In reality it was proof of an impeachable act that endangered national security and was in direct conflict with specific Congressional action. Instead of clearing him the “transcript” implicated him. I was against releasing it on principle and only a president who is both a fool and did not care about future presidents would have done so. In addition to hurting Trump’s case he has now left himself open to calls for the release of other “transcripts”. More important it sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations. I thought the whole idea of a White House Counsel was to protect the office of the president. Nothing works the way it should under Trump.
When I was a young boy in school impeachment was something briefly covered in history classes. There had been one president impeached (Andrew Johnson) and he was not removed from office. In my adult lifetime Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have been subject to impeachment. Nixon resigned after having been caught cheating domestically to win an election he was going to win by a wide margin anyway. Bill Clinton was caught in an extramarital affair (commonly called cheating). Trump appears to have now twice cheated in an effort to win an election that he is the underdog in by enlisting and/or accepting foreign interference.
Unusual for a liberal, I’ve always looked at Nixon somewhat sympathetically in that he was silly, everything was domestic and the net result of the 1972 election was unchanged by his actions. Bill Clinton’s mistake was largely of a sexual nature and in my mind was a private matter between him and his wife. Trump’s 2016 transgression arguably altered the results of that election. His 2020 caper was designed to do the same. Both were attacks on democracy and the integrity of the American electoral system. While similar the three instances are far from equal.
I can’t predict where Ukrainegate will end; I can’t even tell what will happen between this writing (Saturday afternoon) and publishing. However here are a few items of interest:
Ukraine does not currently have an Ambassador to the United States and the situation is mutual. The Trump administration recalled Ambassador Marie Yonanovitch on May 20th of this year. She is a well-respected career diplomate who by all legitimate accounts was serving American interests well. It appears if she committed a transgression it was that she was asking questions and not sufficiently (for Trump) greasing the skids for his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who was nosing around in the Ukraine on Trump’s behalf. Giuliani claims he was aided by the State Department. Yonanovitch’s “replacement” was U. S. Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who abruptly resigned on Friday. Last week he was an unknown. As Ukrainegate started to unfold he became known and received a Congressional subpoena. You connect those dots.
Here is my advice to House Democrats: Keep squeezing the “crew leaders” and “Capos” and you will eventually get the Don. (Or in this case should I say The Donald?)
The revelations to date are not the entire story. This already started Friday night when the news broke that Trump told Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak that he wasn’t concerned about the Russian interference in the 2016 election effectively inviting Russia to do it again in 2020. What more is “locked away” about conversations with Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman?
Hearings must be public as much as possible. When classified material that cannot be covered in open hearings must be aired it should be in a closed door session following the televised hearing. Impeachment is a political process that is dependent on public opinion. Most Americans are like Trump in that they will not read the “book” but they will watch the “movie”. Things have to be thrust in their faces and distilled to soundbites.
Yes, my president is a fool. The problem is a sizable portion of the American electorate either doesn’t realize it or refuses to. Trump is popular in Russia because unlike many Americans, most Russians realize he is a useful idiot for their President, Vladimir Putin. One of the few other countries where Trump is popular is Israel. However he is not nearly as popular as he and Benjamin Netanyahu thought as illustrated in recent the Israeli elections. Netanyahu ran as Trump’s good buddy and the real results of that election along with Bibi’s future are still up in the air.
I did get one piece of outstanding news very late Friday night; my Tampa Bay Rays clinched a playoff spot. A ray of sunshine always seems to peek through the most overcast of skies.
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