With Charlie Harper
THE man with the political death wish may have finally been granted that wish.
After at least five years of his speaking and acting outrageously, it is beginning to look as if America has finally had enough of Donald Trump.
Trump’s brazen incitement of a mob of his supporters who last week broke into the US capitol building, vandalised several offices and caused the deaths of at least five persons seems to have been the last straw.
Displaying none of the hesitation for which she was criticised during Trump’s first impeachment little more than a year ago, Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved rapidly to bring the action against Trump. In taking this action, the US House of Representatives added to his distinctions by making Trump the first American president to be impeached twice.
“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” according to the four-page impeachment article.
“He will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”
The House impeachment article says his behaviour was in line with his prior efforts to “subvert and obstruct” the results of the election and includes a reference to his recent call with the Georgia secretary of state. During that call, Trump urged the official to “find” the votes he would need to give Trump a win in Georgia.
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders was asked by reporters why impeach the president again so close to his departure from office.
“The answer: Precedent,” Sanders said. “It must be made clear that no president, now or in the future, can lead an insurrection against the US government.”
And, by the way: If the Senate eventually musters the two-thirds majority it would need to convict Trump, he would be barred from ever running for political office again.
During the week just past, Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney, the third highest ranking Republican in the House, said she would vote for impeachment. Some other GOP congressmen said they would join her.
Senate (for now) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed through leaks that he is glad the House is moving toward impeachment and that he would leave their votes in an eventual Senate trial up to his caucus members to determine individually. This is in stark contrast to his loyalty to Trump during Impeachment One in late 2019.
Even determinedly loyal vice president Mike Pence was harshly criticised by the mob last week, and there were numerous reports of fractiousness between him and boss Trump. Many observers speculated that this rift might spell the end of Pence’s presidential aspirations for 2024.
Democrat congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey may have said it best: “We Americans routinely denounce foreign leaders who use violence and intimidation to interfere in peaceful democratic processes and override the will of their voters. It is critical that we communicate to the world that in our own system, no one — not even the president — is above the law or immune from public criticism.”
As always in politics, though, money talks. Here, too, the tide was ebbing on Trump and his congressional enablers who promoted a nonsensical effort to hold up Capitol Hill ratification of the November election results – and provided a cause for the Trump mob to rally behind.
Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas were the ringleaders of this misbegotten charade. Among the large US corporations publicly withholding future campaign contributions from them and their allies were AT&T, Marriott, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, American Express and Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards.
Such Wall Street behemoths as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase made similar if even broader announcements, as did cable giant Comcast and Big Tech titans Facebook, Google and Amazon.
Twitter’s shutting down of Trump’s account last week in the wake of the riots spared the world more of his mendacious blather. Thus emboldened, other internet hosts banned several sites where the mob had planned and plotted its insurrection for weeks beforehand.
It is important to recall that the reason the US Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the case known as Citizens United remains so significant is that it lifted most restrictions and limits on the ability of corporations to contribute to political campaigns and the amount of those contributions. That has led to greatly increased corporate influence of US politics and politicians’ resulting dependence on corporate donations.
Heartening as is all this news for liberals and good government advocates, a glimmer of reality was delivered this week by a former Trump administration official when he was asked about corporate giving in the future: “The vast majority of these (corporate) guys will be back at the table, likely with very little fanfare,” he told reporters. “When they see policies that affect their businesses, they will have to be back in the donations game.”
Still, some of the reactions to Trump’s nefarious acts have to sting. The American Professional Golf Association announced that it would move its 2022 PGA Championship away from the Bedminster, New Jersey Trump golf course to which he returns so frequently for some relief from the burdens of his office.
His native New York City has loudly cancelled $17m worth of annual contracts with the Trump Organization to provide services such as operation of a Central Park carousel.
And legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a well-known Trump supporter, told reporters he would spurn Trump’s offer of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian award, because of the president’s involvement in last week’s riots.
Although Trump has granted these honours to numerous, disreputable opportunistic supporters such as congressmen Devin Nunes of California and Jim Jordan of Ohio and the notorious radio instigator Rush Limbaugh, most of his awards have gone to athletes whom he admires or who have supported him – or both.
Things do look bleak indeed for the president and his adopted Republican Party just now.
But Trump, and the Republicans, have been written off before. A wise person might say: Not so fast.
The next general election is 22 months away. American political memories are notoriously short. There’s plenty of time for reloading of political messages and rehabilitation of the reprobates so widely vilified today.
NFL makes sure season is completed
While many Americans have been glued to their televisions as the Capitol building was attacked and occupied for the first time since 1814, the National Football League finished its 2020 season in its entirety.
All 32 teams played their mandated 16 games, sometimes on Tuesday or Wednesday, but they all got played. That’s better than Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association or the National Hockey League could manage during these pandemic-plagued times. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed altogether, for at least one year.
And the Miami Dolphins were the only team with a winning record to miss the expanded 14-team playoffs, while the 8-8 Chicago Bears and the 7-9 Washington Football Team (formerly Redskins) both advanced to the postseason.
Much blame for Miami missing the postseason is being directed at heralded young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the rookie from Alabama who has looked alternately good and not so good as he acclimates to the speed and intimidation of the NFL. Some pundits are even suggesting that Miami needs to draft Tua’s replacement this year.
Under the able leadership of the NFL’s only black general manager-head coach tandem, however, the Dolphins are building a winner. To move on so soon from Tua wouldn’t be wise, and the team’s GM has confirmed his commitment to Tua.
As for the teams that did reach the playoffs, Green Bay and Kansas City clinched top seeding and did not play on “Wild Card” weekend. Everyone else did, with three games on Saturday and three more on Sunday distributed among various networks.
On this famously unpredictable first football playoff weekend, the only home teams to win were Buffalo and New Orleans. They will face the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively, this weekend. These figure to be the most competitive contests.
In the other two games, the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs will host the Cleveland Browns, who shocked everyone by blitzing Pittsburg on Sunday night. The Green Bay Packers will host the Los Angeles Rams on legendary Lambeau Field, where it might be chilly. Both top seeded teams are expected to win comfortably.