Monday, October 30, 2017

Modest Suggestions

Yascha Mounk, a lecturer on government at Harvard University, has issued a call for a pre-emptive strike because

if you think Trump would never dare to fire Robert Mueller for filing charges against his associates, you still haven't understood his character. And if you think that Congress is sure to act when he does, you haven't been paying attentionfor the past several months.

He would like our ex-Presidents to gather together to  denounce Trump's "clear and present danger to the American republic" and for the two most recent presidents especially to speak out more forcefully than any political heavyweight has.

While Mounk's argument is sound, the criticism levelled at the incumbent by Bush and Obama was not insufficiently strong, but was indirect. Neither mentioned Trump's name, Bush because he was at the time campaigning for a GOP candidate (for Va. governor) and Obama because- well, because he's Barack Obama and having a spine has never been among his greatest strengths.

Nonetheless, it is clear

The people who are best placed to do this, depressingly, sit in the House and the Senate. All members of Congress who care about preserving our democracy (or protecting their constitutional prerogatives) must set out what they are going to do if Trump fires Robert Mueller or pardons the people he indicts. As Ian Bassin, the executive director of Protect Democracy, told me, “Ryan, McConnell, Pelosi, and Schumer must make crystal clear right now that firing Mueller or interfering with his investigation would be met with swift and forceful congressional action, including the opening of an impeachment inquiry against the president and the creation of an independent commission to investigate interference in the 2016 election.”

"Those like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker," maintains Mounk, "who have already bravely expressed their concerns about the president, need to champion efforts to limit the damage he can do right now."

Flake, Corker, and other conservative Republicans who support the President's right-wing agenda but recognize the threat Trump is to common decency and continuation of the planet need not resign or even vote against Trump's initiatives (though that would be great benefit to the Republic).  The following, as presented by Salon, is a list recently compiled by Jerrry Taylor of the Niskanen Center:

Making Trump’s tax returns public

Requiring Trump and all future presidents to put their assets in a blind trust

Demanding that Senate Republicans give more resources to the Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Trump-Russia connection during the last election

Establishing a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission to offer recommendations for electoral cybersecurity and protection against foreign disinformation campaigns

Reclaiming war powers that have been delegated in the past to the president

Enforcing the sanctions imposed by Congress on the Russian and allied business entities, which are now going unenforced

Refusing to vote for any legislation that has not gone through the normal process of committee hearings, markups and so on 

The five living ex-Presidents, congressional leadership, and the few Republican members of Congress who have expressed disapproval of President Trump's conduct need not call for his resignation or removal, block his legislative proposals, or do anything any reasonable person might consider excessive or partisan. Taylor's recommendations are non-ideological and would reinforce Congress' opposition to an imperial presidency and to efforts to upend American democracy.

Obviously, they will be ignored.

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