Today’s title is a question that I intend to answer in the third last paragraph. In the process you will have to grant me a bit of leeway in my definition of the term “weekend”. Since I was a child I always thought of Friday as the beginning of the weekend. There were a variety of reasons –which I won’t bore you with – they evolved as I got older, but the basic premise of my reasoning remained. With that in mind let’s explore.
Late Friday afternoon by a 51-49 vote the Senate decided it didn’t want to hear or see the truth before it proceeded with deciding the impeachment of President Trump. Two votes are worth noting to me.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah voted to hear further evidence. I have every reason to believe this was a sincere vote of conscience and duty. Romney is an institution in Utah and has no reason to fear Trump. He won’t be up for reelection until 2024. Should he choose to he could easily win reelection with or without Trump. Add to that the fact that he probably will not seek reelection and if he did his money dwarfs Trump’s.
Maine’s Susan Collins joined Romney in defecting from the GOP. In Collins’ case I smell a rat. It appears that Mitch McConnell gave her a “pass” on this one. He had the votes he needed to defeat the motion for witnesses and documents and by “defecting” Collins hoped to prove her independence to 2020 voters and atone for her Kavanagh confirmation vote which Mitch needed.
McConnell had more than protecting his majority to worry about Friday afternoon/early evening. The White House was pressuring him to wrap it up Friday night so Trump could do victory laps in his Super Bowl interview on Sunday and State of the Union speech on Tuesday. After his initial victory McConnell – who I consider the best Master of the Senate since Lyndon Johnson – was so confused he needed to call a “time out”. The Senate went into a weird caucus break to get plans and votes together.
The eventual deal was struck and after a largely show session the Senate adjourned until Monday. The deal denied Trump his timing yet virtually assured the eventual outcome. The closing arguments will take place Monday, with Tuesday and early Wednesday reserved for senators to make floor speeches justifying their votes (think: covering their backsides). I’m somewhat confused as to the exact rules Monday will proceed under but Tuesday and Wednesday’s speech rules are clear. During those sessions the Chief Justice will not even be in the building and attendance is optional.
The jury function of the Senate was a joke in this trial. At times as many as 20 GOP senators were away from their desks. In particular Kentucky’s Rand Paul’s behavior was childish! It included making an SOS sign, reading a magazine when Democrats were speaking and doing a crossword puzzle. I have never made it to the jury box during the several times I’ve been called for jury duty but I wouldn’t pull those stunts in an entry level courtroom considering a low level offense. Then again I’m not a member of the Lucky Sperm Cell Club.
I see a lot of losers here and only one big winner. First the losers:
A criminal President will effectively skate on Wednesday by among other things withholding and suppressing evidence against him. Note the final resolution outlining the remaining rules for the impeachment trial prevents the consideration of any evidence that may come to light subsequent to its Friday night passage. (GOP senators beware: the court of public opinion is under no such constraint.)
Although he will get the verdict he wanted it won’t come until Wednesday and his Sunday and Tuesday “celebrations” have been cancelled.
Most GOP Senators:
The memory of most American voters is short, if they were paying attention to politics in the first place. This vote goes against the basic American value of fairness and will be an exception. The negative ads have written themselves. How can you have a fair trial sans witnesses and documents? This was not a trial; it was a cover-up. Especially for the Republican Senators up for reelection in 2020 in purple states this is going to be a tough one to survive. Their only hope is that the Trump base turnout exceeds the angry turnout.
While I have every reason to believe he will achieve his immediate goal of keeping Trump in the White House for the rest of the year he was shaken by this one. Normally Mitch is the cool, calm, evil genius. He didn’t look the part on Friday and had to placate Chuck Schumer and the Democrats at the cost of not giving Trump his timetable. He is up in 2020 and his race just got more expensive. He will have the funds but that means he can’t allocate them to vulnerable GOP Senators like Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis to name a few.
THE BIG WINNER:
Consider how this hurt American democracy. Trump remains in office with essentially a free pass to cheat in the 2020 election. Add to that the fact that Friday was the UK’s last day in the European Union which will weaken both. The biggest winner is Vladimir Putin who is several steps closer to his goal of making Russia a world power again, not by elevating it; but by bringing the competition down to its level.
All that and he doesn’t even have to concern himself with the winner of Sunday’s game. I will not make a prediction on that. In fact, unlike millions of Americans, I have no plans to watch it; not out of protest, but out of disinterest.
I have more thoughts on the impeachment but they will have to wait for another day. For now I leave you with this thought: We the people in November are America’s best hope and Putin’s worst nightmare.
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