Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Little Sound And Fury, Probably Signifying Less

In an op-ed Monday in The Washington Post, forty-four former United States senators, most Democratic but many Republican (and Independents Joe Lieberman and Lowell Weicker), wrote

.... it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.

Appearing on Cuomo Prime Time with former Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm, Rick Santorum commented (beginning at 17:33 of the video below)

What does this letter really say? I mean, it looks like a letter that was put together or the idea was for the Senate to go after Trump. But it looks like a letter that was put together by committee. They couldn't really come up with anything other than stand for God and country but it says nothing so I don't know what this is really all about. Is it a missive to say this is sort of a wink and a nod vote for impeachment when I think there isn't any realistic possibility that will occur in the next two years? I have no idea what the letter is all about.

That makes two of us. Impeachment, as Santorum undoubtedly knows and understands, takes place in the House. Therefore, even though there is a realistic possibility of impeachment because the House will be controlled by Democrats, the letter has nothing to do with impeachment. It may, instead, be an effort by these Republicans and Democrats, most of whom had a reputation for ideological moderation and/or bipartisanship, to put themselves on the right side of history.  

Additionally, the letter's authors may be big-timing the House, suggesting that Senators are superior to Representatives. "At other critical moments in our history," they write, "when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy."

In a mere ten sentences, the writers have stood for nothing except, as Santorum noted, God and country, or perhaps puppies and motherhood. Alternatively, they have done something worse, sending mixed signals.

The music is "sort of a wink and nod vote for impeachment," weak tea, especially because the Senate has nothing directly to do with that act, which approximates an indictment. However, the lyrics go in the opposite direction. 

"We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation," the Senators write, a dubious claim arguably intended to push for a conclusion of the investigation. This is similar to the periodic leaks, probably coming from the Trump-Giuliani, camp, that Mueller is about to wrap up his investigation. 

If not from a committee, it might as well have come from one. This letter adds nothing to nothing, playing no role in emboldening GOP senators (or Representatives), who have been, and will remain for awhile, no bolder than an inanimate object. The following morning on the same network, Jeffrey Toobin remarked

I think the Republican Party as s a group, and certainly it’s true for members of the Senate, have said, made a collective decision, that "we’re not gonna change our minds about anything until all of these developments are wrapped up, until there is a Mueller report and then we have to decide whether to throw Donald Trump over the side."

I think that is very unlikely. The Republican Party, as John Boehner said not long ago, is the Trump party today and they are going down with the ship, if the ship is going down.  I think, if you look at Donald Trump’s popularity within the Republican Party, within the voters, it’s still very high. And the Republican politicians are following along.

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