This scribbler has advocated for normalizing impeachment in these pages many times. The reasons are legion: our politicians need more checking, since they gain impunity as they lose accountability, with their re-elections close to being assured. They emit rules and regulations, the most far-reaching and complex ever, which get Americans incarcerated more than anyone else, ever. But they are not being applied to the lawmakers. Their violations to peace should put them in a Nuremberg dock.

An examination of the precedents of impeachment brings the conclusion that impeachment is almost always a narrow political consideration. For instance: Nixon was not impeached for lying about bombing to ruin a nation that never did anything to us, but he would have been for penny ante political spying. GW Bush was not impeached for twisting evidence to invade Iraq, which lit ablaze the most volatile region of the world. Bringing up the Clinton impeachment in this context is a howler (except for applying laws applied to everyone else).

So, it’s tempting to dismiss Ukrainegate as the same squabbles of the tribes.

On The Other Hand (OTOH): Ukraine is a crucial piece on the global chess board of US national security. We turned American freedom upside down (practically the world) in pursuit of national security from terrorists over the burning of a few buildings. Yet Russia stands ready to cinder our whole civilization, as they’ve done for the last half century. This puts Ukrainegate in a different category than any dirty dress.

OTOH: The Obama administration abandoned a security guarantee we made with Ukraine when they rose to the higher aspiration of nuclear disarmament. It is inconceivable they would have been carved up by Russia, if they still had them. I heard no brays of “Treason! Containment!” from the Democrats back then. The appearance is that Democrats find containment important only when their party is out (the same way Republicans resuscitate the word “deficit”).

OTOH: Republicans lie down for this? Whatever happened to that “strength on defense” we invade other countries over?

It seems Trump did affect the movement of Ukraine on the chess board as a manipulation of domestic politics. That is contemptible. Motives matter.

OTOH: motives matter for Democrats too. While Ukraine was betrayed, the Vice President’s otherwise dysfunctional son was granted a seeming-sinecure there (during a corruption crackdown; for a PT Barnum-like touch). The Stark Law governs me and my family’s dealings with my employer’s vendors. Conflict of interest laws are everywhere (in our most far-reaching, complex legal system ever), but they are not applied to a seat on the Board of Directors of the national oil company of a nation embroiled in our continued conflict with our existential enemy?

Shenanigans during Mueller’s Russia probe should be impeachable. Impeach who, though? We wait for the Durham report to see.

OTOH: conducting a similar probe is also impeachable? Any honest Democrat must concede the Hunter Biden job smells fishy. It is incredible to maintain, after the exhaustive Mueller probe, that just because Hunter’s dad is running for President, it should be illicit for Trump to take a bigger sniff. Now that we know the FBI FISA warrants to surveil the Trump campaign were not on the level, the Democrats are in the position of impeaching the President for using existential containment chess to gain domestic political position, when their own nominee did much the same.

OTOH: Hillary Clinton is not the President, Trump is.

Trump’s flouting of Congressional oversight in his refusal to honor subpoenaed documents is a menace to the norms on which the world’s oldest Republic depend. The argument of the self-making legality of Presidential conduct was discarded with the Nixon precedent.

OTOH: the Supreme Court, also by precedent, decides conflicts between co-equal branches of government. They can’t decide because the Democrats won’t wait for them to. Their rush is rank with the smell of an electoral device.

Also: Democrats wearing the mantle of the law’s sanctity is a clashing look with their own obstructions of the Lerner investigations and Holder subpoenas.

OTOH: Anyone who thinks good-faith to the law would be reciprocated by the opposing tribe would seem a rube too unrealistic to be trusted with any power. Any politician so naive would be crushed in our Realpolitik. This is where our political culture is now. This is why, whatever the outcome of the Trump drama, the rule of law will not be strengthened. It will be a tribal win, benefiting nobody but the tribes.

Trump’s attacks on our institutions must weaken them, which is also a dire national security threat.

OTOH: our institutions have made the “discredit” rod for their own backs: any American who accepts the say-so of our institutions on trust should have been disabused of that notion with the “just trust our intelligence” Iraq fiasco. If Americans had kept skepticism foremost in our minds, we would not be fraught over the Mueller investigation, or be shocked that incompetence bent the most politically charged FBI investigation in our history (and only incompetence, we hope).

Also: Trump was elected with a mandate to address the long-disapproved-of incumbent dysfunctions of the “Washington Swamp.” If he had pursued his concerns through the Justice Department, we likely would not be at this pass. Impeaching him because he did not follow the “Beltway way” would skirt the boundary of overturning an electoral mandate, supposedly the highest of all of our laws. Lincoln needed an electoral mandate to finish the Civil War.

Trump has eclipsed Congress’s prerogative in budgeting, by diverting approved funds.

OTOH: accusations of Trump’s usurping Congress’ power should be taken as a hilariously instructive irony: picking up what’s abandoned is not theft, since almost all law now is administrative, not legislative (Trump being the head of the Trump administration).

OTOH: that’s not to say we shouldn’t want Congress to rediscover its power. Presidents with this much power should scare everyone, but that’s hardly new (“Elections have consequences.”).

Political crimes must be checked some time. Our dysfunction has been an evolution (a bipartisan one), not a leap by one man.

OTOH: the overturning of an election is a radical act, it’s never been done in our history. A remedy in the form of an election is less than a year off. That remedy has worked for us longer than for any other people in the world.

OTOH: endless rounds of who-struck-John will not keep The People from getting struck by The Johns. The next evolution could be our last.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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