Schwab: On a hobby horse of popularity, directing a whirlwind

Alexander Hamilton saw Trump coming, or at least someone very much like him. When will Republicans?

By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist

“You don’t even have to have committed a crime to lose your job [as president] in this constitutional republic, if this body determines that your conduct is clearly out of bounds.” More recently, the quotee said of Trump, “He’s not fit to be president of the United States.” Everyone knows whose words those are. What happened?

The leaders of today’s Republican Party have become a crime syndicate and protection racket. The difference between their protection game and the Mafia’s is that the latter threaten to ruin their victims themselves, whereas Republican leaders have convinced their voters it’d be liberals. Either allows getting away with murder, real or virtual. Witness their recent storming of the secure room in which impeachment inquiries are taking place.

That shameful show was a stunt for the stupid. Claiming they were denied access while, along with a quarter of Republican representatives, several already had it. But rarely showed up. Whining about closed-door hearings that included Republican members of the relevant committees. Pretending they themselves hadn’t ever done it (Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!), and that the rules allowing it hadn’t been written by them. By law, those storm troopers should lose their security clearances.

The cherry atop the steaming pile is their claim that impeachment inquiries are unconstitutional. A coup. Deep-state shenanigans. Only those who’ve not read the Constitution or who, like Trump, believe it doesn’t apply to Republicans, could swallow such nonsense. Trump’s latest press secretary described following constitutional provisions as “waging war on the Constitution.” This is gnathonic absurdity hoisted to cosmic levels, demonstrating how ill-informed and manipulable they believe their voters to be. If truth is your foe, smear its bearers. And the process. The more deplorably, the better. Like trying to out the original whistleblower, putting party over country in a most sickening, lawless, dangerous way.

Suppurating under that steaming cherry is the pretense that closed hearings are improper. In obvious ways, they protect both the witnesses and those about whom they’re testifying, until decisions are made. Those crying foul will rue the loss of secrecy during open hearings, when damning facts become public and unspinnable.

This crime syndicate is fine with Trump rejecting Congress’s mandated oversight, as even former employees refuse subpoenas. They remain silent when Trump calls members of their party who’ve criticized him “human scum,” and when Trump’s recent acting AG says abuse of power isn’t a crime. To no outcry, lifelong bullying “businessman” Trump has stiffed local governments for over a million dollars in campaign-rally-related costs. Nor has any of the made-men denounced Betsy DeVos, cited for contempt of court, and fined. Knowing the DOJ is headed by a man who shares Trump’s disregard for the Constitution, it’s a protection racket for their personal use. Supporters fiddle while the republic burns.

Surely their singular patriotism has led Trumpists to the Federalist Papers. They’ve learned that, despite being the strongest advocate for presidential power, Alexander Hamilton was also the force behind including impeachment as a remedy for its abuse. They’ll have noted and understood his concerns, as he wrote, “When a man unprincipled in private life … despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’” Trump and Trumpism are Hamilton’s warnings enfleshed.

Trumpic crimes against democracy are unending, but we must also note the killing of al-Baghdadi: unequivocally good news, notwithstanding Trump’s bizarre, rambling, self-congratulatory announcement of it. We’ve since learned, though, that his hasty withdrawal of troops, against “his” generals’ advice, abandoning the same Kurds who provided mission-critical intelligence, nearly ruined it. Necessarily hurried after his ill-considered impulsiveness, the operation’s success was in spite of, not because of Trump. Without the Kurds and our Trump-slandered intelligence services, al-Baghdadi would still be alive.

Reinforcing the point, we end as we began, with relevant words from times past: “Why don’t we ask the Navy Seals who killed Bin Laden? They don’t seem happy with Obama claiming credit. All he did was say O.K.”

Guess who.

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