Well, GOP senators had two chances to get former President Donald Trump off their backs for good through impeachment, and they threw them both away. This latest act of cowardice, acquitting Trump of inciting insurrection, will come back to haunt them.
The Senate trial was not a criminal one. There will be action by the Justice Department, the FBI, the District of Columbia and the trials of those arrested for violent activities at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, among others.
Tens of thousands of moderate Republicans, sickened by what has been done in their names, have called their state parties to resign from the GOP. There is now talk of a split between those moderates and those who have been co-opted by Trump and have defended his notorious behavior for four years.
The repercussions from the insurrection are far from over.
A Trump-supporting mob shouted, "We will destroy the GOP." And when Republican senators acquitted Trump for instigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, they helped make the mob's dream come true. The GOP, the Grand Old Party, no longer espouses high-minded policies or values. Nor can it be considered "grand." The Republican senators are spineless politicians under the thumb of a ruthless tyrant and his followers. Destroy the GOP? With Trump's acquittal, the answer is yes.
Many years ago I was employed by a public affairs (i.e., lobbying) organization. My boss was an old-school Missourian with a deep understanding of politicians. He used to say, "The first rule in politics is self-preservation."
The Republican senators from red states voted for self-preservation. The senate is a political body, not a court of law. If you vote to impeach, you antagonize your constituents, who have the power to end your career at the next election and you incur the everlasting hatred of Trump. What politician needs enemies?
The red-state Republicans made a calculated decision to please many constituencies and to keep their jobs. That's how politics works.
If someone ever writes "Profiles in Cowardice" as a companion to John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage," there are 43 U.S. senators who will merit a collective chapter.
It continues to amaze me that so many Republican politicians remain eager to identify with such a transparently self-serving narcissist as Trump, especially after his appalling behavior following his election loss to President Joe Biden. These lackeys apparently cling to Trump out of abject fear of offending him and his base, but that's treading a fine line. They may have gained some traction with that base by condoning Trump's hateful attacks on those they consider to be the "others," but to a narcissist everybody is an "other." No matter how vehemently they align with him, or how abjectly they kowtow to him, even Trump's most servile supporters will eventually work their way to the top of his hate list.
One perceived transgression can make him turn on someone in a flash. Just look at the attrition rate among the sycophants in his administration. For his inability to override Biden's sweeping electoral win, even former Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's longtime No. 1 groveler, suddenly went from prince to pariah.
For the GOP, lying about sexual relations with a woman other than one's wife: impeachable.
Lying about the results of a free election and inciting a seditious mob: unimpeachable.
Thus one of the numerous reasons I am no longer, in good conscience, able to vote Republican.
As expected, a majority of Senate Republicans voted Saturday to acquit Trump. The evidence that Trump incited the deadly insurgency of Jan. 6 is incontrovertible. What prompted those senators to ignore that evidence?
While some of them are perfectly comfortable as lap dogs to a caudillo Sen. Lindsey Graham comes to mind for most there are two related reasons: cynicism and cowardice.
The ratio varies with each lap dog, but for all of them, their only motivation is re-election. If they anger Trump, a child-man with skin so thin it's a wonder his insides stay there, he will attack them and do everything in his now-limited power to turn his base against them. Even worse, they will likely be primaried by someone even further to the right.
So principle, truth and their oaths of office be damned, and they let the insurgent off. If history remembers them at all, it will not be kindly.
One final note: By constantly predicting that Senate Republicans would make themselves complicit in attacking our country and its democracy, commentators implicitly granted them permission to do just that. If we had publicly expected them to consider the overwhelming evidence against Trump, maybe some of them would have.
Regarding "Must freedom of speech include the freedom to lie?" (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 16), Cass Sunstein advances the notion that our psyches are inclined to embed false information. I suppose I am an exception. I suspected his premise was false information from the get-go or, at least tenuous science at best. One doesn't need a Ph.D. in psychology to realize that making generalizations about beliefs is shaky business. The components of faith, educational level, individual gullibility (an unquantifiable behavior) and mob psychology are all ingredients in this matter. Sunstein doesn't really address this. Can he or any "expert" really demonstrate that people like me reluctant to believe everything I hear are vastly outnumbered by people who embrace lies? I doubt it.
So, while Sunstein is cautious about forwarding restrictions on dissemination of information ("No one ... should assume the role of a Ministry of Truth"), he is proposing limited censorship. I doubt the efficacy of this. Personally, I prefer to accept the risks of widespread misinformation to the risks of limited censorship. I believe that as our world becomes more complicated, with greater challenges, the dissemination of information will become increasingly essential. Yes, there will be falsehoods that require debunking. (The "stolen election" comes to mind.) But the risks of limiting vital information are greater.
We know that out of every 30-minute news broadcast, 42 minutes are devoted to weather. You kindly tell us that Joe's thermometer says it was -5 in his backyard in Grand Rapids, and Jane's thermometer showed -4 in Mankato. It's riveting. Riveting, I tell you.
But fer Pete's sake it's winter. In Minnesota. It's been cold for a few days. Could you stop with the gushing, breathless delivery? It's cold. We expect it to be cold. It's going to be cold again. Then it will get warmer. Maybe even cold again. It's not a surprise!
Just give me the high, the low, what to expect for wind, temperature and precipitation over the next few days. That's it. That's all I need. If I want more, I can go to your website.
If you keep gushing, it's likely to freeze that way.
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.
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