History of Impeachment is Reining in the King

New Orleans      Watching tennis volleys can get tedious if you are stuck on an elliptical machine at the gym and nothing else is on, and these are the top men and women’s professionals.  The same thing could be said already about the back-and-forth between the House, Senate, and the White House on the impeachment proceedings.  Enough already!  Thrust and parry.  But, whatever, like tennis, if that’s all that’s on, then you have to watch it.

Most interesting to me has been the Trump stonewalling tactic in all of its machinations.  He and his team seem to want to argue that he and his posse are exempt from any investigation of criminal activity and even any practice involving Congressional oversight functions, whether impeachment or not.  A case is now heading for the Supreme Court on whether or not prosecutors in New York can get is tax returns.  Other cases are on their way as well, all of which go right to the heart of whether or not the president is all powerful, essentially the King of America, or whether or not there continues to be effective checks-and-balances envisioned under the Constitution to the power of the president.

Jill LePore, Harvard historian, wrote a riveting, and her usual comprehensive, piece on the history of impeachment in a recent issue of the New Yorker.  It was something of a chilling read, because it was impossible in reading about the English derivation of the practice seeking to control the omnipotence of the king not to constantly find oneself seeing the similarities between the practices of the royalty there and the wannabe king now in the White House.

The history of impeachment in England was a contest between whether the royal ruler would be all-powerful and unaccountable to Parliament and the people or not.  First, the practice was only available in dealing with the royal ministers and their abuses.  Once established several hundred years ago it was revived in another dispute in the early 1700s, marking the final emasculation of the governing power of the royals and establishing the Parliament as the critical body in the country.  LePore makes the point that all of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention invariably were aware of the more recent English practice – and success – with impeachment and placed impeachment in every draft of the document as a central policy mandate for accountability.  She is also clear about the broadness of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” and their spot-on relevance to the current impeachment debate and allegations.

Besides the peccadilloes, perfidy, and, frankly, high crimes and misdemeanors of the current occupant of the White House, there can’t be any doubt that the question of whether or not we have a royal presidency or continue to be able to claim effective checks and balances is at the heart of the back-and-worth in Washington now.


Can Trump be Beaten on Foreign Policy?

New Orleans     Various polls indicate that the American people are increasingly open to impeachment proceedings on President Trump, but his hardcore Republican base continues to hold firm, seemingly against all odds.  Increasingly, I have to wonder giving the Teflon nature of his support, whether his Achilles heel is his hip-shooting, disastrous foreign policy.  I don’t mean just his efforts to involve foreign countries in domestic politics for his own ends, like Russia or Ukraine.  His base seems to believe in the old saying that “anything goes in love and war,” and they see politics as war.  Fair enough, but can his base continue to hold as strong if they are forced to understand that Trump is not strong, but weak, and caves into one country after another led by autocratic and ruthless men who are stronger.  Can Trump’s base be eroded on a line of attack that says he is not a deal-maker, but someone who allows every other country to eat his lunch?  Why can’t we beat Trump by arguing his real slogan is not “make America great again,” but “make America weak?”

The litany of cave-ins seems endless.

North Korea wants South Korea to end military exercises, Trump talks to the dictator, and caves in exchange for nothing.

Turkey wants to muscle up in Syria and advance its age-old conflict with our allies in Syria and the fight against ISIS, and Trump pulls us out without so much as a howdy-do to the Kurds unleashing a disaster on multiple grounds.

Israel’s weakening strongman wants to come to the White House to get some buzz for his recent re-election effort, which he loses, and announce a muscling in on the West Bank, and Trump nods him forward without any agreement for peace in the Middle East.

Hungary’s autocratic leader visits the White House and dishes dirt on Ukraine, and Trump takes his side and continues America’s support for Orban even as he loses municipal elections across the country.

China’s leadership is the subject of one tirade after another on trade and other issues, but when it comes to the bottom line, Trump steps back once again as his bluff is called.

Russia has Trump on speed-dial, and he excuses all of Putin’s behavior and appeases their every request.

The Saudi’s seem to be able to kill at will, and Trump remains a fan.

I could go on, but the point is clear.  Trump’s Christmas card list is one filled with dictators and wannabe dictators, while his attacks are constant on any moderate to liberal leaders and countries in the rest of the world.  Ironically, many of his best friends are losing badly when their own citizens are actually allowed to vote on their policies these days and demonstrations by their people are often ongoing.

As America becomes increasingly a global laughing stock, and Trump’s bizarre decision-making process makes the US weaker and weaker, how long will the red-blooded Trump base be willing to look the other way?  Forever, if there is no concerted attack, but I would bet moving on this front more aggressively and strategically could be a winning tactic in ending his reign of terror.