Thursday, May 18, 2017

Country Over Party: Get Rid Of The Orange Nightmare First; Worry About Pence Later

Donald Trump is mentally, intellectually and morally unfit to be president.  His ignorant and erratic behavior is a threat to our national security, as most recently shown by his perhaps unwitting disclosure of highly classified information to the Russians.  He is doing long-lasting damage to our relationships with allies.  How he would handle a domestic or international crisis is too frightening to consider.  It would make Bush's criminally inept handing of Katrina look like the height of competence.  He has installed white nationalists in key positions of his government and emboldened fringe racists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes.  His lack of respect or understanding of fundamental constitutional rights -- particularly, freedom of speech and the press -- is chilling.  His most recent act of firing the FBI director who refused to pledge his fealty is the behavior of an autocrat not a democratically-elected president.  Meanwhile, he and his family are making a fortune off of it all. 

As his presidency appears to be unraveling, there are cautionary calls from the left to be careful what we ask for, claiming that Mike Pence would actually be worse.  He would be more disciplined and skilled at governing and thus better able to successfully pass the Republican Party's agenda.  His extreme religious beliefs and regressive views about women and their reproductive health and about the LGBT community would risk turning the government into a white Christian version of the Taliban. And, he would allow the Republicans, who at this point are tainted with the stench of the rancid orange shit-gibbon, to regain credibility and forestall a mid-term electoral collapse.

This, unfortunately, may all be true.  But for at least three reasons, Trump needs to be removed from office as soon as possible after a fulsome investigation of his abuse of power, and sent back to Trump Tower where he can spend the next several years enmeshed in criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits.

First, if we determine to keep Trump in power because it would make things worse for Republicans and better for Democrats in the long run -- no matter the destruction he could do to the nation in the meantime -- we would prove ourselves just as cynical as the Republicans who have put the interests of their party over that of the country in ignoring Trump's abuses, lies, corruption, incompetence and instability. 

Second, if we are to remain a nation of laws then when high government officials break the law or abuse their power, there must be a true reckoning.  President Ford pardoned Nixon, and the first President Bush pardoned the key participants in the Iran-Contra affair.  President Obama, giving in to his bipartisan fetish, insisted on looking forward, not backward, in failing to hold the second Bush Administration accountable for torture and other war crimes.  It is not surprising that the next Republican president -- particularly when his Party controls all three branches of government -- would feel unconstrained by the checks and balances to run roughshod over the norms of governance. 

And third, we don't know where the investigation of the Trump Administration will lead.  Remember Pence was in charge of Trump's transition team, which, the Times recently reported, was told by Michael Flynn during the campaign that Flynn  was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey.  Pence has claimed to essentially be "out of the loop" -- the phrase Bush I conveniently used to avoid becoming ensnared in Iran-Contra -- and not aware of Flynn's contacts with Russia or his work as a foreign agent but that seems increasingly implausible.  It is, thus, quite possible that Pence will be found complicit in some of Trump's malfeasance, and, under the rules of presidential succession, we will have to consider a President Paul Ryan -- or a President Nancy Pelosi, if Democrats take back the House in the mid-terms. 

At bottom, Trump has no business being the president of this country and it is our patriotic duty to see that he goes down regardless of whether it ends up helping the Republicans hold on to power or takes them down too. 

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