Saturday, September 28, 2019

Why does David Brooks hate America?

By Nellie Bly
Spy Washington Bureau with
A.J. Liebling, Meta-Content Generator

What happens when a columnist who does business as a Complete National Disgrace (evidence at left) offers his thoughts on the fate of a President who is also a Complete National Disgrace?

Take your time, it's not a trick question.

We really weren't going to drag the ol' Perfesser and ex-Jew David Brooks in this season of teshuvah, or as the current Mrs. Brooks would say, what's that, but the opinions he expressed on Friday were broadly representative of a stain [Surely, strain? – Ed.] of thinking surprisingly popular among white male pundits, some of whom should know better.  Hello, Scott Lehigh!

In brief, the argument seems to be that while the evidence that President Pussy Ass Bitch has committed 143 impeachable offenses, it would be better to let him get away with them and try to beat him next year, because that would be more “democratic.”

We'll skip over the most obvious but irrefutable rejoinder to this argument that many have already pointed out [Louise, find some – Ed.], which is that letting President PAB get away with rigging two elections on the grounds that you can beat him in rigged election #2 seems to be fraught with contradiction.

Instead, let's plunge right into the ol' Perfesser's stream of words (we'd hesitate to call it an argument).  We accept his claim that he truly hates President PAB and wants him out.  So in his mind the question is purely pragmatic: how best to do so?

As is often the case with Complete National Disgrace, his column derails in the second paragraph:

Remember, impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. There is no obligation to prosecute.

That's not how we remember impeachment, possibly because it's not true.  It could not be clearer from Art. I of the U. S. Constitution, secs. 3 and 4, and Art. II, sec. 4 that impeachment only lies for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” all relevant here.

Here's Art. I, sec. 3:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law. 

Now maybe Madison, Hamilton and the other framers were not very good with words (they certainly had trouble spelling), but when a document uses words like “try,”  “convicted,” “judgment,” “Chief Justice,” and “preside,” there is the implication that the drafters are talking about a legal process.

Perhaps the ol' Perfesser means to suggest that there is inevitably a political dimension to the decision to prefer Articles of Impeachment, but impeachment itself is a legal process for relief from and punishment of official wrongdoing.  Prosecutors have discretion over whether to bring a criminal case, and political pressure may bear on that decision for good or ill, but there is a fundamental difference between a criminal trial and a committee markup.

We perseverate on this because the ol' Perfesser's knowing or negligent failure to understand the role of impeachment as vindicating the rule of law turns out to be, in the words of noted jurisprude Jerry Seinfeld, “a pretty big meatball.”

Brooks predicts that the Senate wouldn't convict because it is packed with Republican stooges (53 at last count).  That is true today, although for those of us old enough (such as Compete National Disgrace Brooks) to remember 1974, the number of Senate votes can change in a hurry, if the House presents a compelling case for impeachment, as it did in 1974.  Of course if the House serves up a dog's breakfast of bullshit and blowjobs, as it did in 1998, the Senate won't be moved much.

But Brooks seems to think that a well-found impeachment vote followed by an ill-considered acquittal in the Senate would be bad.  Why?  “An ugly backlash could ensue.”

Has he looked out the window?

It's ugly out there now, because Republicans have learned one lesson from 50 years of hate speech, lies, and destruction of political norms: they work when Democrats are cowed by them.  And if Democrats are bullied out of taking appropriate action to protect the Constitution and the rule of law because Republicans will make things ugly, then Democrats will never get anything done and the Republic will go down the tubes.  That strikes us as a worse fate than an “an ugly backlash.”

Indeed we're so old we remember when white male pundits told Martin Luther King not to fight for civil rights and all of us not to end the pointless massacre of Vietnam on the grounds that doing so would lead to “an ugly backlash.”  The prediction was correct, but not many, other than the ol' Perfesser, would agree that fear of such a reaction should keep us from trying to do the right thing.

Further, from his listening post in an elegant little sopprassata bistro in Chevy Chase, just inside the Beltway, he has his manicured finger on the national pulse:

This is not what the country wants to talk about. Pelosi said she would not proceed with impeachment unless there was a bipartisan groundswell of support. There is no bipartisan groundswell, and yet she’s proceeding. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, only 37 percent of Americans support impeachment.

Funny how time flies when you're trying to save the Republic.  Here's another poll result published September 26:

Voters are now evenly split on whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a marked increase in support for impeachment, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

“David Brooks said what?”
Sounds like a lot of people in the country do want to talk about impeachment.   It also seems that the more evidence of misconduct the Democrats adduce, the more public support grows. Maybe Brooks can tell us when he thinks the poll numbers justify starting the machinery to protect our Constitutional order, because as we all know, that's a decision you take only when the polls tell you to.

But Complete National Disgrace's little essay jumps the tracks, plunges down the ravine, and bursts into flames when he contrasts impeachment with an election.  Impeachment, he says, is “elitist” because 100 Senators, many rich, white, and insufferable (no argument there), would decide, while an election is open to all, unless their right to vote has been stolen by um, a Republican elite.

We never realized that principled conservatives like C.N.D. Brooks held representative democracy in such contempt.  We think it's a pretty good idea, for the reasons set out in Federalist Paper #10.  In any event, the wisdom of vesting the legislative power in representatives acting on behalf of citizens having weighed all of their concerns (not just a faction thereof) rather than in a referendum strikes us as even more cogent today, if you look across the waters at the collapse of responsible government in the United Kingdom.

Brooks' argument proves rather too much before it swallows itself: if it's elitist to let Senators decide the guilt vel non of the Grifter-in-Chief, surely it's equally unsupportable for them to decide how to tax and spend for the general welfare, or indeed to exercise any other enumerated or implied legislative power.

And the election is not a referendum: it chooses representatives (including a Chief Magistrate) who then carry out the business of government having obtained the consent of the governed.  So an election isn't any more or less elitist than an impeachment trial.  They are in fact two aspects of the very same legitimate form of government: representative democracy.

Which leaves us with only one question: why does Complete National Disgrace Brooks hate this country and its form of government?

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