Ken Paxton has been returned to the office of Attorney General of Texas by a bunch of cowardly Republican Texas State Senators. Donald Trump was not rendered ineligible for public office by a bunch of cowardly Republican United States Senators. See the pattern? I can’t predict exactly how or when but the GOP will either go the way of the Whigs or be unrecognizably transformed. The question is whether they will be the vehicle of their own salvation or, as they have been to this point, collaborators in a political suicide.
Last week excerpts designed (and I’d say successfully) to gin up pre-order demand for McKay Coppins’ forthcoming book, Romney: A Reckoning, were published claiming that several GOP Senators’ fear for their and their family’s safety stopped them from voting to convict Donald Trump. That impeachment conviction would have, among other things, rendered Trump ineligible to hold the office of the presidency again. (Full disclosure: yes, I pre-ordered the book.)
Paxton, like Trump is awaiting trial on serious federal felony charges. His impeachment by the Texas State House had him suspended from office. The acquittal reinstated him. Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who served as the judge in the Senate impeachment trial, received a $2 million donation from Paxton subsequent to the impeachment but prior to the trial. It might just be me but I’d say that doesn’t pass the smell test. Immediately following the verdict Patrick made statements that the impeachment was in haste and a waste of taxpayer dollars.
In that interim word came down from Trump that he wanted Paxton acquitted. The grapevine also says that the Texas GOP made it plain which side it stood on. I’m not an expert on Texas politics – something I have to make note to express thanks for at Thanksgiving dinner this year – but I’d say the pressure was on. Most state Senators are not high powered politicians with huge war chests. They need the financial and more importantly gerrymandering strength of the party. In fact, most districts are so gerrymandered as to render the opposition party challenger meaningless. The real race is the primary and if the party can prevent a viable challenger the incumbent basically skates home.
Unlike Trump, Paxton (at least at the state level) has been a winner. But anyone paying attention knows that he is not a “without significant sin”. It is difficult for a Democrat to win statewide office in Texas and with the voter suppression laws the Republican controlled Texas Legislature has recently passed I don’t see that changing very soon. Chances are extremely good that the Texas Republicans could have rid themselves of Paxton and still retained the office. So why didn’t they? One unproven theory is that perhaps some of them in positions of influence have benefitted from Paxton’s past shenanigans and owe him and/or are afraid to be exposed. (Not all, and I might say most, political power players hold public office.) No proof, but the logic is tough to dismiss.
This was a classic case of the lack of political courage on display! I’m disappointed but not surprised which is a sad commentary on my country!
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