Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Unity Fetish

In this excerpt  of the Democratic presidential debate, ABC News; Linsey Davis can be seen asking

We come to you, of course, just 48 hours after the acquittal of President Trump. A process that has certainly crystallized the divide in our country. Senator Warren, want to start with you. You have said that on day one of your presidency, one of your first orders of business will be to order your justice department to launch new investigations into the Trump Administration. After a grueling impeachment, and what is likely to be a polarizing election, is investigating President Trump the best way to try to unify the country?

Warren responds

I believe in an independent commission, in our justice department that investigates crimes committed by our own government. It is an important part of accountability. It is an important part for every administration, that we hold ourselves accountable to the American people

Unfortunately, only three other candidates, two with no chance of winning the nomination, responded to this question.  Tom Steyer, asking "is he (Trump) a crook?" answered his own question with "Of course he is. But the job of the people on this stage is to beat him in November, and that’s going to be based on what we can deliver for the American people."

His answer to Davis' question, obviously, is a "no." Worse was Andrew Yang, arguing "We move the country forward. We don’t focus on the mistakes of the leaders that are leaving office."

That leaves Bernie Sanders, the leading candidate, who at a huge rally in New Hampshire on Monday evening declared (as seen at 1:55 of the "Morning Joe" video here)

The reason that we're going to win is that the American people, no matter what their political views may be, are sick and tired of a president who is a pathological liar, who is running a corrupt administration, who is a bully and a vindictive person, who is a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a homophobe, and a religious bigot.

Strong words- strong words, and largely empty. Sanders' response to the debate question, which impelled Warren- alone among her colleagues- to say "no one is above the law"- was

Along with Elizabeth and Amy, we sat for two weeks listening to the impeachment process, and here’s what I think the horror and the danger of what happened was not only the acquittal of Trump, who in fact committed impeachable offenses, and obstructed Congress. It is the precedent that it set. The precedent that it set. And what that precedent is about now is in the future, you’re going to have presidents who say, “Hey, governor, you want highway money? You better support me, or you’re not going to get it.” Because I am the president, I can do anything I want.

 Hey, Congress, you want to investigate me? Don’t be ridiculous. Who cares about the Congress? Who cares about the separation of powers? Who cares about the constitution of the president? I’m the President of the United States. I have all of the power, and I’m able to intimidate members of my own party. The saddest aspect of this whole thing, is you have Republicans in the Senate who knew better. They knew that Donald Trump is a crook. They knew that Donald Trump is a cheat, but they didn’t have the guts, with the exception of Romney to vote against him. That is a sad day.

And what that precedent is about now is in the future, you’re going to have presidents who say, “Hey, governor, you want highway money? You better support me, or you’re not going to get it.” Because I am the president, I can do anything I want.

No Democratic president will do that. But that's not the issue. Sanders uttered 17 sentences, In none was he sufficiently bold to assert "no one is above the law" or "I expect the Attorney General in my administration to treat Trump as she would any apparent lawbreaker" or anything else to suggest that there will not be a carve-out in a Sanders administration for Trump's transgressions. This is the "authentic" candidate in a Democratic primary campaign- and he won't commit.

Richard Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford. Later, Barack "We don't look backwards, we look forward" Obama turned a blind eye to possible crimes committed by members of the Bush Administration. As Sanders might say- but evidently won't- these set a bad precedent. Nonetheless, thus far we have only one presidential candidate in a Democratic campaign willing and able to state definitively that election to the presidency does not shield an individual from consequences..

Donald Trump may be defeated at the polls, but it appears he nonetheless will be riding off into the sunset, unscathed.

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