Impeachment a better option sooner rather than later



By Roger Bowen

I was asked recently by a Republican friend, “Why do you hate Trump so much?” I could tell from the tone of his voice that his question was serious and thus merited a serious response. My friend had voted for Trump, and although not uncritical of the President’s egregious behavior, continues to support him. He added that his investment portfolio has grown remarkably during Trump’s one year in office.

I doubt he was satisfied with my response. I told him that the value of my investment assets has also improved over the past year, but added I had seen steady growth under Obama and believed, as do many economists, that the sustained improvement in the economy after the Great Recession, that Obama had inherited, was largely due to Obama’s Federal Reserve’s actions (quantitative easing), job growth (more spectacular than in Trump’s first year in office) and federal assistance given to automakers (sans Ford). His reply: “That is not what Trump says. Trump says he inherited Obama’s mess.”

My obvious retort was “And you believe everything Trump says?” He admitted he does not and pointed to a number of lies that Trump has told, everything from the size of the audience at his inauguration, that Obama had candidate Trump’s headquarters bugged and that 3 million Americans voted illegally in 2016.

It was my turn. After referencing the 950 misstatements and downright lies told by Trump during his first year in office and cataloged by the nation’s major newspapers, I said that I do not “hate” Trump at all, but I do “despise” Trump’s lack of integrity, his shameless and/or ignorant fabrication of “alternate facts” and his dangerous and relentless attacks on the First Amendment. He did not answer the question I asked next: “How can any American trust a liar?”

Probably conversations like this one are happening around the nation, especially in the aftermath of the release of Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury,” which makes clear that many, if not most, of the folks in Trump’s inner circle do not trust or respect the President. Some of his advisers say Trump is “crazy,” some say he is a “man-child,” his secretary of state has said Trump is a “moron,” and others are hinting Trump suffers from early onset of dementia. Ever believing he is his own best defender, Trump quickly proclaimed he is a “very stable genius.” Cringe.

We live in a dangerous world where democracy is forever under assault, where Trump is not the only madman with nuclear weapons at his disposal, where our economy is in the early stages of shifting the production of things from humans to robots, where climate change is and should be forcing nations to drastically limit pollution, where the two major political parties in America have succumbed to a virulent tribalism, and where childhood poverty is on the rise in many places across America and income growth for many has been flat or has declined over the past 20 years.

This is not the time to have an untrustworthy serial liar, and sexual predator, in the White House.

Yet nothing the President has done in his first year in office merits hatred. Although it seems Trump wanted to be president for all the wrong reasons, nonetheless he has taken on the world’s most difficult job and, I believe, he genuinely wants to strengthen America (I will not say “make America great again” because the United States has been nurturing the democratic promise for over 200 years).

Perhaps the 2018 mid-term elections will result in a Democratic Congress, both House and Senate, but perhaps not. Regardless, in the immediate the burden of either changing the President’s behavior, or concealing it more artfully, rests with the Republican congressional majority, which, thus far and with few exceptions, have served as Trump’s water carriers; even when Trump did not have the knowledge to tell them where to go or adequate understanding of how Congress works or what a particular piece of legislation even means. Trump, by some accounts, does not read the legislation he signs.

Some Trump critics have suggested using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, but that requires that the vice president, who has proven to be a Trump toady, and a majority of the cabinet members to jointly declare that Trump is unfit to occupy the White House. Trump selected all of them, so they are beholden to Trump and unlikely to dump him so long as they are allowed to carry out their responsibilities unburdened by presidential interference. Invoking the 25th is a very long shot and with so many former military men in the cabinet, this form of removal might appear as a coup d’etat to Trump’s base.

Trump may be impeached by a Democratic-controlled Congress after the 2018 midterm elections, or at least tethered for two years with the expectation that 2020 will result in a Democratic victory for the White House as well. If the Democrats in Congress demurred on impeachment, it would be because they mistakenly conclude that they can “control” Trump for the last two years of his term; and regard this path as better than allowing the Christian fundamentalist Vice President Mike Pence to assume the presidency following Trump’s impeachment. But the risk of presuming Trump is controllable by a Democratic-controlled Congress would be a mistake — just ask Trump’s chief of staff Gen. Kelley.

Politics is often choosing between equally bad options, but the better path is to impeach Trump, the sooner the better, and give Pence one or two years to try to earn the trust of a majority of Americans. Regardless of whether collusion with the Russians is proven, a demonstrably untrustworthy President cannot be permitted to remain in office.

 

Roger Bowen is the author of “Innocence is not enough.He lives in Prospect Harbor.

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