Saturday, June 1, 2019

Profiles in Courage, revised edition

By Isaiah Thomas
Editorial Board with
Francis X. Morrissey in Boston

Since we aren't invited out to much of anything anymore, other than free lunches at the Chateau in Waltham to learn about the great opportunities just waiting for us in Bitcoins, we were surprised to hear about a recent gala at the Kennedy Library.  We remembered vaguely that they hand out a Profile in Courage Award every year, but we almost choked on our Pop-Tart when we saw this in The Boston Globe:

Say what?

At the risk of agreeing with loathsome reactionary Jeff Jacoby (no link, f*** this guy), we have to ask what she has done to exhibit courage, whether in profile or full-face.

If you hadn't noticed, and since most of you don't read a real newspaper, you may very well haven't, the House of Representatives is now confronting what to do with a corrupt President who has committed by our count 121 impeachable offenses, at least 10 of which were set forth in excruciating detail in the Special Counsel's report.

And how has Madame Speaker responded to this ongoing demolition of our Constitution?  If you guessed by commencing an orderly proceeding involving testimony, evidence, and expert legal advice to determine if impeachment is warranted then you win an award, but not for courage.

Instead, she has slow-walked any effort to open such hearings on the grounds that the 53 spineless hypocritical Republicans in the Senate wouldn't convict anyway.  It's hard to fault her prediction based on facts on the ground today but to quote that Constitutional scholar Yogi Berra, predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Instead of convening an impeachment inquiry that would fail in the Senate, she's proposing legislation that would – you guessed it, fail in the Senate:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is spearheading a new oversight strategy that will include legislative fixes meant to hold Trump accountable for his actions as president that will be rolled out as soon as next week. Democratic aides from several committees met over the Memorial Day recess to discuss legislation that will address “Trump’s abuses and safeguard our democracy from future attacks,” according to a leadership aide.

A number of rationales have been offered by Pelosi and her apologists for doing everything they can to wriggle out of the evident necessity of impeaching a corrupt disloyal obstructor of justice and subverter of our Constitutional order, beyond the fact that the necessary 20 Republican Senators have not yet agreed to convict.

First we are told that the House needs to get “all the facts” before it commences a formal impeachment inquiry, which of course is the vehicle to get all the facts.  The analogue to the criminal justice system is that the House Judiciary Committee acts as a sort of grand jury, pulling together the evidence and making a recommendation.  Now prosecutors don't go to the grand jury until they've got a pretty good idea of where the bodies are buried and who put them there, but in this case the House has a 448-page summary of the evidence to date, at least in the area of obstruction.  (The report doesn't reach other impeachable offenses like violations of the Emoluments Clause and doesn't fully exhume all of the financial and other contacts between U Bum and his Kremlin handlers, all of which could be covered in impeachment hearings).

We are also told that if the Senate won't convict, then U Bum will take his acquittal by the Senate as as an exoneration.  Therefore,  goes the argument, it would be better not even to begin the process by convening hearings because of course U Bum will not spin the Democrats' craven refusal to do so as exoneration.  If that makes sense to you, then I'm happy to give you an award, although not for courage.

Finally, as a variation of these arguments, we are told that impeachment should not be commenced in the absence of a bipartisan consensus, although that didn't stop the 1998 Republican lynch mob from handing Lindsay Graham the rope.

The way to build a broader base of support for impeachment is to take over live TV with riveting testimony, as was done successfully in 1974.  We actually think that U Bum may not wait that long and should his packed Supreme Court not quash the subpoena, will pardon himself and head out for the territories as soon as he is forced to turn over his financial records.

What's really going on of course is that the memory of losing her majority in 2010 is seared in Nancy Pelosi's memory.  She will do whatever it takes to avoid a repeat in 2020, and if that means keeping her fledgling Democrats in purple districts from taking a, um, courageous vote, then it's a small price to pay.

We think that you could protect these delicate flowers by simply beginning hearings led by expert counsel in the Judiciary Committee to review evidence of Presidential misconduct and leave the i-word for a later date.  But you have to make it clear that you are committed to a relentless process of fact gathering.

We suspect that the spectacle of Mueller reciting his report's conclusions, McGahn speaking to U Bum's efforts to fire Mueller, and Li'l Grifter smirkingly taking the Fifth might well move public opinion.  In any case, that's the kind of political risk you have to take if you want to be considered a Profile in Courage.

Now we know that even the named author of Profiles in Courage didn't always live up to the standard he set in areas as diverse as civil rights and Vietnam.  But sometimes he did, like when he told his Joint Chiefs he did not intend to start a nuclear war in Cuba.  Anyone alive in 1962 owes Jack Kennedy a perpetual debt of gratitude.

Speaking of Kennedys and courage, by the way, his grand nephew Joe Kennedy III has made a bit of a name for himself as the Congressman for the Fourth Congressional District in Massachusetts, one of those districts that in Pelosi's demeaning phrase would elect a glass of water if it had a D next to it.

How's his profile in courage?  Sadly, scarcely better than Pelosi's.  His office told the Spy last week that he hasn't addressed impeachment since 2017.  His standard response to constituents could be summarized as homina-homina-homina.

It's beginning to look like there's no need for an updated version of Profiles in Courage, no matter how many nice dinners they throw at the Kennedy Library.

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