By D. Allan Kerr
Senate Republicans got totally played by Nancy Pelosi during this impeachment process, perhaps to a degree even she couldn’t have imagined.
There was never a scenario where 67 senators would vote to remove Donald Trump from office.
But by forcing the Senate to deal with the implications of his self-serving Ukraine shakedown, Pelosi created the opportunity for these public servants to expose themselves as the feckless, spineless sycophants many of us suspected all along.
Republicans Alexander, Murkowski, Rubio, Sasse, Portman, Collins, and Romney acknowledged to varying degrees Trump did what he was accused of doing.
Lamar Alexander actually admitted House Democrats had made their case, to the point no further witnesses were necessary.
But only Mitt Romney had the chutzpah to vote Trump guilty of abusing the once-hallowed office of President of the United States.
Their rationale for acquittal was to essentially pass the buck to the American voters in November, and perhaps that’s where we’ll find out how people really feel about the issue.
But in doing so the Senate abdicated its responsibility.
As a longtime fan of Maine Sen. Susan Collins, I have to admit I was disappointed to read her claim Trump had “learned” from the impeachment process.
If this guy learned anything, it’s that he can indeed – as he has insisted all along – do whatever the hell he wants and get away with it.
Of course, in acknowledging Trump acted inappropriately, Republicans are also admitting he lied in claiming he did nothing wrong. And they still couldn’t get up the nerve to hold him accountable.
Collins and others claimed Trump’s actions didn’t merit what she called the “extreme step of immediate removal from office.” But removal wasn’t their only option.
The Senate could have voted to censure Trump, which would have allowed him to remain in the Oval Office while also reminding him it isn’t his personal playpen.
In fact, censure would have been the ideal solution for those who believe the Ukraine shakedown was wrong but did not rise to the level of removal.
“See something, say something” has become a rule of good citizenship in the years since the 9/ll attacks, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan pointed out during her floor speech this week.
“And while the brave men and women who appeared before the House did their jobs, the Senate under this majority has unfortunately not,” Hassan said.
Instead, it’s likely we will learn more about the Ukraine shakedown in the months ahead, starting with the pending book release from Trump’s own former national security advisor, John Bolton.
And every new tidbit will remind us this is information we should have heard during the Senate’s impeachment process.
Any GOP protest of political corruption over the next couple of years is going to ring hollow now, because the actions of the past few weeks prove Republican lawmakers don’t give two shakes about right and wrong.
Political survival trumps integrity.
One aspect of this shamelessly obsequious behavior I find particularly despicable is their parroting of Trump’s false accusations against Joe Biden.
Many of these same senators know in their soul Biden is not corrupt. They served by his side during part of his 36 years in the Senate, followed by eight more years as President of the Senate in his capacity as Obama’s veep.
In a 2015 televised interview, a tearful Lindsey Graham said Biden “is as good a man as God ever created.”
Think about that.
He didn’t say Biden was a smooth politician or a good dad. He said he was “as good a man as God ever created.”
Now Graham is going after his former friend, serving as Trump’s hatchet man in the Senate to distract the public from his master’s malfeasance.
In 2016, Republican leader Mitch McConnell told Biden on the Senate floor: “You’ve been a real friend, you’ve been a trusted partner, and it’s been an honor to serve with you.”
Did Biden suddenly become a force for evil? Or did these clowns realize they had to reorder their priorities when the GOP ceded its soul to Donald J. Trump?
Earlier in 2016, two Republicans still serving in the Senate – Ron Johnson and Rob Portman – signed a letter to the Ukrainian president calling for the very reforms Biden pursued as U.S. vice president.
“Succeeding in these reforms will show Russian President Vladimir Putin that an independent, transparent and democratic Ukraine can and will succeed,” the letter stated. “We similarly urge you to press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General’s Office and judiciary.”
The letter was signed by a third Republican no longer in office – Mark Kirk of Illinois – and a handful of Democrats including New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen.
Now Republicans are claiming Biden demanded the ouster of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to benefit his son, and not as part of a bipartisan campaign supported by the European Union and Western civilization as we know it.
And Johnson, apparently eager to score Trump brownie points, is pursuing inquiries as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee into the Biden family for advancing the reforms Johnson himself sought in this 2016 letter.
But unlike Trump’s shady maneuvering with Ukraine, these guys all knew what Biden was doing at the time and they had no problem with it until Trump started playing puppet master.
The GOP really has become the Party of Hypocrisy. Here’s hoping they have to answer for their cowardice on Election Day.
D. Allan Kerr never, ever wants to hear another self-righteous, right wing dandelion complain about athletes standing respectfully during the national anthem – not unless they hold our commander-and-thief to the same lofty standards.
(Feb. 13, 2020)
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