Schwab: Republicans practice art of defending indefensible

How hard is it to see if a president commits crimes, undoing the election is why we have impeachment?

By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist

It’s predicted this will be a hell of a winter. The PUD is gearing up, we’re told, for more outages than usual, lasting longer. Maybe it’s time to buy a generator.

One thing is sure, though: If it hits as hard as expected, if we find ourselves suffering bone-chilling winds and frozen pipes, cars stuck in deep snow or spinning out on icy roads, we’ll see Trump supporters strutting in bathing suits and flip-flops, smelling like coconut oil, claiming it’s sunny and warm.

So here we go. Democrats have produced their articles of impeachment, enumerating, in plain language, abuses of “presidential” power and obstruction of Congress. Much more could have been included; Mueller’s report was replete. That improper actions occurred is as obvious as a snowdrift; likewise, that congressional Republicans will pretend it’s green grass and blue skies.

But they’re in a tough spot. Given the evidence, their only rational defense would be to agree Trump did those things but they don’t amount to impeachable offenses. That’d make more sense than choosing to assert nothing happened. It’d suggest residua of integrity, while not requiring their current Pythonesque denial. (You Tube: tinyurl.com/monty4u)

There’s a problem, though: They’d be saying they’re OK with a “president” — and, because they’re certainly not hypocrites, even a Democrat — unconstitutionally seeking election help from foreign countries, including those that undeniably wish us ill. And they’d be disavowing their oversight requirements, ceding to ANY president virtually unlimited power. Improbably, given the propagandophilia of their base, they seem to believe that’s an abridgement too far. Thus, the circus we saw at the impeachment hearings: screaming, insulting, ignoring, complaining about process.

The impeachment articles arrived right after the DOJ Inspector General’s report, about which the expected disemboguement of boilerplate rightwing agitprop commenced immediately. While finding inexcusable errors and omissions, the report dismantled Trumpic claims of FBI “spying” or unjustified, politically motivated investigations. Of course it did: Had intelligence agencies ignored possible wrongdoing at that level, it would have been malpractice.

Between the impeachment articles and the IG report, Republicans have a lot of dissembling to do. No worries: William Barr, full-time Trump defender, no-time Attorney General for Americans, is on it like white on Nazis. Fox “news” is doing its usual up-is-downism as if it was pre-scripted, and Trump’s rally-lies and language about it were deranged, even for him.

If they’re not good at America, congressional Republicans are peerless at distraction. Their tantrums at the hearings were low-aiming performance art. Claiming there was no “there” there, they resurrected Mueller-report-style, preemptive obfuscation. They should have been laughed off the dais: crime-us interruptus isn’t a crime; Trump, the embodiment of corruption, was only seeking to root it out, despite testimony that, knowing his base, all he wanted was the announcement of an investigation. Possibly because his conspiracy theories had already been debunked.

It was hard to watch. Did they think their attempts at parliamentary interruptions would accomplish anything? Were Trumpists who viewed it on Fox “news” impressed? Had Republicans any compelling arguments, there might have been better tactics. They didn’t, so there weren’t. Hatred of Trump, they claim. Attempts to undo an election. But how hard can it be to understand that if a “duly” “elected” “president” is found to have committed crimes, undoing the election is exactly why impeachment was codified? Doesn’t national interest require finding out? Unlike most Republicans, true conservatives get it. (American Conservative: tinyurl.com/2conserv)

So now it’s real. Will Republican senators, as FBI Director Wray just did, understand that their oath of office was to defend the Constitution, not a “president”? Will Trumpists acknowledge what’s at stake and relinquish Foxification long enough to decide for themselves? Take it seriously enough to read the articles of impeachment, which they didn’t with Mueller’s report, rather than accept Trump’s and Barr’s perversions? Would they apprehend the significance if they imagined the charges were against Hillary Clinton? Those who decry lack of bipartisanship ignore the unprecedented effectiveness of a 24/7 disinformation network and a ceaselessly lying “president,” and the fact that he prevented key witnesses from testifying. Truth was under siege.

Today’s extraordinarily vicious divisiveness is on Trump, whose rantings and invective toward Americans and institutions who don’t kowtow have created such toxicity that “patriot” militias are threatening harm to senators who vote to convict. Fainthearted Congressional Republicans won’t stand up unless forced by an awakening among their voters: namely, remembering the highest obligations of American citizenship. Discouragingly, that part is on them.

Email Sid Schwab at columnsid@gmail.com.

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