Quid Pro Quo. Three monosyllabic Latin words, that mean “something for something.” They are dominating the news, aka the Trump Impeachment S***show (fill in the stars as you will), in a binary fashion. The Democrats and others who want Trump defenestrated tell us there was, the Trump supporters and Trump himself tell us there wasn’t. As in release of military financial aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of corruption, in particular regarding Burisma Holdings and its hiring of Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

That binary yes-no ping pong match does not, however, get us to any relevant conclusion.

Virtually the entirety of US foreign policy, of which military financial aid is only one of countless facets, is about influencing the behavior of foreign leaders and countries. Barring occasional humanitarian aid, we do stuff in order to advance our nation’s interests.

News flash #1 – so does every other nation in the world.

News flash #2 – it’s normal politics. We may not like this sort of thing, we may believe (I do) that funneling billions overseas when we have trillions in national debt is ill-advised, to put it mildly, and we may decide that particular actions are wrong-headed, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s normal politics.

Here’s the thing about #2, and it’s one emergence from the Impeachment S***show: Foreign policy is one of the President’s jobs. Whoever the nation elects gets to decide, within the strictures of treaty obligations and enacted legislation, the who-what-where-when of it all. What we are witnessing, instead, is a parade of unelected careerists actively working against the intents of the elected President. Doesn’t mean that Trump’s ideas are right and theirs are wrong, but

It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen echoed throughout the Trump term: the assertion that the people around him are doing things to protect the nation from his wilder impulses.

There’s a fine line to this sort of thing. It is the duty and obligation of Presidential advisors and cabinet members to offer their opinions and critique the boss’s ideas and plans as they see fit. But, after all that occurs, there is a chain of command, and they are obligated to either carry out his instructions – again within the boundaries of treaty and law. Or resign their positions. While those of us that are Trump-critical may like the idea of “sane” people tempering his rashness, the system itself matters, and if we condone insubordination when it serves our purposes, we lose the right to challenge and decry it in other situations.

Back to Trump. The question as to whether Trump conditioned release of the (congressionally mandated) $400M in aid to Ukraine on investigation into Burisma is likely never going to be answered in a purely factual matter, other than noting that the aid was released and the investigation was not conducted. But, as I noted, that alone doesn’t tell us much, because in and of itself, the connection does not represent any actual transgression on Trump’s part.

What’s at the heart of the matter is whether the investigation that was requested was for the benefit of the nation, or served to benefit Trump personally/politically while harming the nation. The latter is key, in my opinion, because nearly every politician since the dawn of time has leveraged the power of his position for the betterment of his political career and prospects. And, even if Trump did condition release of the aid money on an investigation into the Bidens, if the Hunter Biden gig is dirty and the investigation bears that out, then it’s hard to argue that Trump was working against the interests of the nation.

Schiff, Nadler, et al, along with the fine “Trump must go!” folks at CNN, MSNBC, and their brethren, would have us believe that merely conditioning release of aid money on such an investigation is a High Crime and Misdemeanor of sufficient import to warrant removing a President from office. Color me skeptical. It would certainly be unseemly, but let’s be real – Trump’s prime “offense” is that of the loutish party crasher. He is the interloper, the line-cutter, the riff-raff that upset the apple cart. He is Billy Ray Valentine storming into the Heritage Club, to the horror of all those who “belong” there. He took what was rightfully someone else’s, someone whose turn it was, and for that he must be punished, along with all those who supported him.

Make no mistake – I don’t write this as a defense of Trump, whose policies I consider a decidedly mixed bag, and whose carnival-barker style I find repellent. But, it’s farcical to think that he is somehow uniquely awful even in that. Politicians of all stripes and throughout history have spouted garbage and nastiness, lies and half-truths, puffery and insult. Trump’s style is a thing, but it should also be considered that he’s at least in part a product of the tools at his disposal. Who knows what we might have heard from LBJ had Twitter existed in the 1960s? Many of our most revered presidents of yore had famously nasty tempers, tempers that didn’t make it into the public arena quite so readily thanks to the non-immediacy of communication during their tenures (as well as a press corps that played along).

Barring some new revelation of an offense that truly rises to the worthiness of impeachment and removal from office (none so far qualify in my book), Trump’s fate should be decided by the voters on Election Day. As I recently wrote, removing Trump from office on a partisan basis or for the electorate may deem “insufficient” will do nothing to help repair the state of political fracture in the nation, and will likely worsen it. Even if the case is made that a quid pro quo was demanded, that’s not enough. Such happen all the time in foreign policy. There needs to be evidence that Trump acted against the best interests of the nation. That this isn’t part of the Democrats’ impeachment pitch is itself a cautionary flag. Imagine the s***show that would arise from evidence of a Biden quid pro quo – a bending of foreign policy in Ukraine’s favor in exchange for his son’s cushy Burisma gig. That the Democrats don’t want this delved into tells us their Trump hunt is indeed about power and partisanship rather than the good of the nation and the repair of its institutions.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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