Friday, January 17, 2020

Profiles in Cowardice

Chamber of Deputies, by Honore Daumier (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     Here's what I will never understand.
     Senators are smart. Even Republican senators. They see the ruin awaiting Trump toadies. The smoldering hulks that used to be Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, et al. Those in prison or heading there.  The inversion of Rudy Giuliani from the nation's mayor to a clown's consigliere. The contempt Trump holds for his staunchest allies, the without-a-second-thought with which he disposes them when convenient. The harsh judgment of history awaiting. They must know.
    And yet Sens. Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins. They grovel and scrape and cast off whatever principles they might have had. Just as Reps. Jim Jordan and Devon Nunes and Kevin McCarthy did during the trial in the House. Because ...
    They do it because ...
    Well, at this point they've been doing it for years. Sink or swim with Donald Trump. Chalk it up to habit. Is that it?
    They do it because ...
    Their jobs, right? They figure they'll be primaried by some more zealous Trump supporter, and their pro-Trump constituencies will give them the heave-ho.
     Granted, being senator is a good job. Salary: $174,000 a year. But not that good. It's less than what a new attorney gets at a top firm straight out of law school. There must be better jobs. Most of the senators are millionaires already. They aren't living off their salaries.
     So the power then. Power to ... what? Sink with Donald Trump? Is this the job they thought they signed up for? Is there nothing else? But what about their pride? Their sense of duty? Honor? Religion? Patriotism?
     Empty words.
     The Senate trial is an opportunity, or should be, or should have been. Spouting love for the Donald out of one side of their mouths, they could have given in to responsibility, to the Constitution, then to the overwhelming evidence of guilt. Aren't any of them sly? Apparently not. Not a sigh. Not a raised eyebrow. Nothing, but kowtowing, groveling, in-the-dirt-obeisance.
     You'd think somebody would. Just one. But no. Even Mitt Romney, who occasionally musters a limp, weak tea protest before drawing it back. Susan Collins used to give lip service to her morals before caving in. Now she doesn't even do that.
     A most disgusting show of cowardice.
     Who opposes Trump and wonders if they are doing the right thing? And worries how the future will look back on us? Anyone? I don't.
     Certainty doesn't mean much, I suppose. Tap any Trump supporter on the shoulder at a rally and they are 100 percent certain in their full and unconditional support. So I hesitate to present my certainty as significant. That's one of the many hall-of-mirrors nightmares of this era. There is no term that can be honestly applied to Trump that he hasn't already tossed off in all directions.
     But I am certain that opposing Donald Trump is a patriotic duty, almost sacred in its alignment with all concepts of democracy, freedom, morals, human decency. I have no doubt whatsoever that no matter what occurs in this country, it is something I will look back on with pride, or my children will look back on with pride, and if that is in conflict with the general consensus, it will mean that Trump has triumphed—as he might—and we are still in the dark age that follows. But that dark age will end because all dark ages do.  The story can't end with Trump winning. It can't it can't it can't. Enough people will stand up, vote, resist. It has to happen.
     I can't understand it. I love my job, but if my bosses told me I had to ballyhoo Trump, I would give it up. Go do something else. Greet people at Home Depot. At least I hope I would. You can't predict your own courage with absolute certainty. Nobody expects himself to be hiding in the pickle barrel when the bugle sounds. But I like to think I would stand tall. People do such things all the time, leap into rivers to save drowning people, walk the point on patrol in Afghanistan. Run into burning buildings, charge up dark staircases, guns drawn. Not that I'm comparing rhetoric to actual physical heroism. But putting yourself at risk for a cause. Why is heroism so common in some professions, and so rare in others? So scarce in the United States Senate? This could have been their moment to shine. Instead it is their moment of shame.
    I'll never understand it.

22 comments:

  1. Absolute truth. I wish this could be in the paper; a lot of folks would do well to read it.

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    1. Share it on line which I do with many of these blog pieces

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  2. trump win (God forbid) or lose, how do those "public servants" live with themselves?

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  3. 'I would give it up.'
    I posit that their job is SO MUCH BETTER than yours, they will do anything to keep it. The salary thingy is the tip of the iceberg. Apples and oranges comparison...

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    1. They are in THEY are in the position to speak up and speak out.

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  4. I couldn't agree more. I am a lawyer and have two high school sons. Between what I learned - and I mean learned, not just heard - in law school and the values I try to instill in my sons, I too am totally perplexed at the lack of a single voice on the GOP side that is lucid and unaffected by blind party alliance. Where is that all american kid that earned his eagle scout badge and lent a hand up to an opponent on the ground? Where is the kid that recited the Pledge of Allegiance every day in third grade and really listened to the words? Not to be to crass, but where is the 60 year old with enough F-You money (you know what I mean) who can just stand up and call "shenanigans" on this whole mess? I, like you, feel like I am missing some piece of information that would answer these questions. Thanks so much for your insights, fight the power!

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  5. Maybe "I'll never understand it" is the key to the conundrum. And as Neil makes clear, the "it" isn't Donald Trump, whose venality, narcissism and arrogance aren't state secrets. "It" is the disgraceful kowtowing of accomplished, renowned and intelligent men and women to a man without any discernible qualifications for the job he holds...for now. I'm afraid the answer is that Trump is the man they want in the job, just as Hindenburg and his allies promoted Hitler, because they thought they could get what they wanted out of such an ignorant, unsophisticated, capricious fool. And they have indeed got much of what they yearn for: lower taxes on the rich; reduced financial and ecological regulation; a shot at overturning Roe v. Wade. I think that Trump cannot win reelection without fomenting a war with Iran. When our brilliant Senators figure that out, they may rethink their undying support for the President.

    john

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  6. Once again, Neil speaks for us with an eloquence that we lack. When Trump flippantly insults heroes and refuses to apologize, when he dismisses American intelligence agencies in Putin's presence, then meets with him privately, without even an American translator, and no Republican of any note expresses even a hint of skepticism, rational people are gobsmacked. American greatness, American exceptionalism are not in evidence in this administration. The Cowardly Liar's reelection would be evidence of the decline of decency as well.

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  7. Republicans love to give lip service to members of the military and first responders, praising them for being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It is obvious they really have no idea of what the word sacrifice means as they are, apparently, unwilling to make the smallest one.

    I think the GOP has been so committed to making people believe they should be afraid of everything that they have convinced themselves to be cowards as well.

    One other thought. Maybe they have become true believers, just like those at Trump rallies. That is the most frightening possibility.

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  8. Justice Roberts reads:"that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God."
    Everybody in the senate: "I do." When I heard that "I do" I laughed so hard my upstairs neighbor probably heard me. The Republicans should have at least been honest enough to dummy up.

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  9. It's power. Worship and fear of power. That's it. There's no other explanation.

    Look at Joe McCarthy, the demagogue most like Trump IMO (and with whom he shared the services of Roy Cohn). Almost every other Republican senator knew he was an unprincipled, utterly mendacious lout, but they clung to him because he was the most powerful politician in America. They didn't abandon him until he lost power (ironically, for not being good on TV).

    Trump is still incredibly powerful within the Republican rank and file, and that's all that matters to these people.

    I also disagree with your characterization of Ryan and Christie as having been brought down by their affiliation with Trump. Ryan fled Congress because he was tired of having to work with Trump's idiotic House supporters while trying to keep one foot in the real world. As for Christie, that little act of spite on the George Washington Bridge is what sunk him; he grabbed at Trump in a pathetic, and failed, attempt to keep from going completely under.

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    1. I, too, have thought of Tailgunner Joe--more than I have in decades.And J have often compared him to Trump. Joe McCarthy was a lifelong alcoholic who (allegedly) consumed a fifth of booze daily. Trump is (supposedly) a teetotaler, if you disregard the Adderal he snorts. And yet, Trump is an even worse demagogue than McCarthy. That's pretty scary.

      As POTUS, he has exponentially more power than any senator. That's beyond merely scary...it's one of the most frightening things of all. And fear of that much power, in the hands of an unstable nitwit, is what has made everyone shut their faces.

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  10. This makes me think of the biographies of Nazi war criminals on Wikipedia. What continues to amaze me is the number of them and how run of the mill, or seemingly average, so many of them are. I don't mean the famous monsters like Mengele or Goebbels, but there is always one more guy who grew up in a family and went to school and started some mundane job and ended up helping to commit mass murder. As if that's just a normal progression.

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  11. "Senators are smart. Even Republican Senators." Neil--too much anesthetic!! LOL

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  12. I appreciate your thoughts, the Rep standpoint seems to be unwilling to show themselves as unloyal to the boss man. He can make it difficult for their re election efforts. With Trump you are either loyal to his doctrine or you are an enemy. There is no middle ground. These Reps have taken the oath from Justice Roberts to uphold the Constitutional principles for the trial. I hope they do not fail to honor that oath, but fear they will continue their partisan obstructionist path. May the House managers find the power and the 4 votes needed to bring on the witnesses to present the evidence and the docs !

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  13. I suspect that there is one hell of a lot of money sneaking around behind the scenery and oozing up through the cracks in the floor. Principles be damned, full ahead!

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  14. There is a chance Trump could be exposed as the craven person he is. Like in that Martin Sheen movie, a sniper takes pot shots, Trump grabs an infant and holds it up as a human shield. I bet we'd have enough Republican Senators change their mind and vote to remove Trump from office.

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    1. And George has a piece of land; we're going to be farmers...

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    2. Yesterday, rather than respond to a reporters question, a Senator dismissed him as "a Liberal hack" and retreated behind a closed door. Not unusual, but disturbing. Since the Senator in question is a former military pilot, from John McCain's Arizona, one wonders about her fealty to The Cowardly Liar in the light of his disrespect to the national hero whose footsteps she follows. Not surprising that this republican in Arizona couldn't be elected to the office, she was appointed by a partisan hack Governor.

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    3. Yeah, I guess you're right. The idea that any Republican Senator under this or any other scenario would change their minds is pretty farfetched.

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  15. I have a dream. A dream that there are two or three lesser known Republican Senators in the shadows who gorges will rise enough after the Parnas revelations to stand up to McConnell and side with sanity. Because I also have a nightmare: if Trump sails through this trial and stands for re-election Heaven help us all.

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