CSotD: Heroes and Villains and both

One of the arguments against impeaching Trump, Drew Sheneman reminds us, is that it threatened to make impeachment a weapon for trivial partisanship.

Or maybe they started it.

After all, if, after the 1968 elections, we’d learned that Richard Nixon collaborated with the North Vietnamese to stall LBJ’s peace moves, we might have impeached him and so impeaching Trump for collaborating with foreign governments to influence a presidential election wasn’t much of a stretch, though expecting a conviction in the current world seemed naive.

However, I can’t imagine impeaching Jack Kennedy for a dalliance with Marilyn Monroe, though I could see some action over his dalliance with Judith Exner, since she had Mafia connections.

But while Monica Lewinski is a bright, interesting young woman, she’s not Marilyn Monroe nor as connected as Judith Exner. Impeaching Bill Clinton over an evasive answer about his sex life was, well, below the belt.

It was also an exercise in rank hypocrisy. If they’d recused every Senator who’d ever had an affair, they’d have not only lacked a quorum but they’d have had to appoint Joseph Wapner and Judge Judy to the Supreme Court to sort out the ensuing flood of divorces.

Carlo Goldoni called that one 278 years ago:

In any case, impeachment has been lowered from high crimes and misdemeanors to rude glances and double parking. You can even be impeached as a result of Russian propaganda or simply because the party in power doesn’t like the cut of your jib, as seen in this

Juxtaposition of the Day

John Branch

Adam Zyglis

Two views of the performative nonsense in Texas, including the ridiculous impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas for not following Republican priorities, which recalls the cries from the John Birch Society to impeach Chief Justice Earl Warren for failure to rule as they wished.

Well, the Birchers at least had the excuse that Warren had locked up the Japanese-Americans during the war and they expected him to behave consistent with that in turning aside the Civil Rights Movement.

As both cartoonists point out, the anti-immigrant contingent has not only failed to address the crisis for which they blame Mayorkas and Biden but has actively opposed institution of the very reforms for which they have been calling.

Branch specifically points out that the states’-rights crew has at best allowed, if not caused, people to drown, while Zyglis offers a list of real crises that have gone unaddressed while the GOP ties up with House with partisan foolishness doomed to go nowhere anyway.

As Mike Smith (KFS) suggests, they’ve backed themselves into a corner, though he has his elephant speak with a frank self-awareness that, in real life, would get him declared a RINO and booted out of the party.

Bearing in mind that, in real life, when Joseph Welch asked the famous question, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” he was not an elected official but was acting as the US Army’s attorney in the McCarthy hearings.

We didn’t see elected officials step up like that for another 20 years, and then it was only after the guilt of the President in ordering and overseeing felonies — for which he was not immune — was beyond question.

It’s also worth pointing out, with a shudder, that even then, Gordon Liddy, convicted for the Watergate crimes, was transformed into a rightwing hero and celebrity, as was Oliver North, who would have been convicted for his part in the Iran-Contra arms deal had he not turned states’ evidence.

And they metamorphosized from criminals to folk heroes not only before the existence of Fox News but before the development of the Internet.

As did psychotic felon Jesse James, come to think of it.

On a trickier issue of heroes and villains, Guy Parsons notes the dilemma we’re facing, attempting to uphold the First Amendment while seeking extradition of Julian Assange.

The case comes down less to what he published than it does to the question of how and when Assange became involved in leaking of classified documents.

Bear in mind, first of all, that very little Woodward and Bernstein and others uncovered in the Watergate case was classified information, though some of it may have been covered by non-disclosure agreements. Still, they received the information: They didn’t steal it.

Similarly, the Supreme Court upheld the rights of newspapers to publish the Pentagon Papers, which were classified, but Daniel Ellsburg most certainly could have been convicted for handing them over to the media. What sheltered him was the outrageous acts of Nixon’s plumbers, whose combination of burglaries and harassment made it impossible, courts agreed, for Ellsburg to get a fair trial.

Every reporter needs to understand where the line is drawn between getting a tip and participating in a crime. If Assange simply received the materials, he should be afforded First Amendment protection, but if he arranged for material to be stolen, and certainly if he actively assisted in the effort, that’s over the line.

A valid drivers license won’t get you off the hook for driving the getaway car.

Jeff Stahler (AMS) reminds me that I’d like to see the Venn Diagram of people who think Julian Assange is guilty of mishandling classified information and people who think Trump is guilty of the same thing.

Meanwhile, yeah, Trump fans better hope he’s more adept at appealing than he was at dealing. Judging by his track record, “The Art of the Deal” appears to have consisted of inheriting a whole lot of money and making “great deals” until it was gone.

I covered commercial real estate for a decade or so, and met a lot of fast-talkers and snake-oil sellers, which meant I was surprised to find so little of substance in the Whitewater deals. I thought someone knowledgeable about the trade would have looking into the matter, which went on for months, until, as Horace wrote, “Mountains will labor: what’s born? A ridiculous mouse!”

Meanwhile, I’d met a hundred Donald Trumps. Good company, but keep a hand on your wallet.

The most skilled are a cross of PeeWee Herman with a Roomba: When they run into an immoveable object, they just back up and shout “I meant to do that!” before racing off in a new direction.

We shall see.

One thought on “CSotD: Heroes and Villains and both

  1. I am compelled by the examples of insane self-serving non-governence here to repeat what someone recently wrote: ‘Yes, they are clowns. But, they are clowns with flame throwers’

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