After the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol Building by a mob of Donald Trump supporters following a rally, I wrote that he should resign, leaving his Vice-president, Mike Pence, to serve out his remaining days in office. There wasn’t sufficient time, I wrote, to conduct a proper impeachment trial which could drag on for weeks, preoccupying Congress and interfering with a smooth transition. Resignation was also recommended by a number of media sources, including the Wall Street Journal.
Since the Senate, by rule, was not scheduled to reconvene until Jan. 19, the day before Inauguration Day, an impeachment trial would therefore extend into President Joe Biden’s term and take place after Mr. Trump had already left office. This raised questions regarding the constitutionality of conducting an impeachment trial of an ex-president, since Section Three of Article I of the Constitution states in part that “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…”
Resignation would have resulted in the immediate departure of Mr. Trump instead of leaving him in office for nearly two more weeks while he posed, at least according to Democrat congressional leaders, a threat to the security of the United States. Resigning in disgrace, as Richard Nixon did, would have been viewed by most as a tacit admission of guilt. His cabinet might have forced this decision on Mr. Trump by threatening to resign en masse if he refused. But they didn’t and Democrats in Congress, having spent the better part of four years trying to de-legitimize the 2016 election and accomplishing little else of substance, opted to satisfy their lust for revenge rather than focusing on the real challenges facing the country. Instead they will be focused on an impeachment trial that will keep Donald Trump in the spotlight, possibly acquit him, keep alive the fiction that the election was stolen and keep his followers energized.
Exactly what good will this do for a nation suffering from a deadly pandemic, its effect on jobs, the economy and the cause of national unity which Mr. Biden has promised to pursue? That promise would have come across as more sincere had he urged his fellow Democrats to get on with the job of legislating which they, presumably, were elected to do. But clearly, Democrats are fixated on Donald Trump. They just can’t seem to get enough of him and they apparently need to keep him around as a punching bag and someone to blame when things go wrong for them. Going after ex-presidents is what happens in banana republics and dictatorships. It’s a main reason why dictators cling desperately to power. They fear for their personal safety when they leave office. Leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jingping ruthlessly persecute critics because they may pose a threat to their remaining in power.
Democrats in power today may be prone to the mistaken belief that they actually are the government rather than members of a political party who temporarily control branches of government, perhaps only until the next election. If you have the privilege of holding office and have blind faith in the infallibility of your beliefs and policies, it’s easy to image that you actually are the government and that any criticism of you or your policies is tantamount to an attack on the government. Therefore, your critics are disloyal and must be silenced.
Trump’s behavior, character and lack of judgment, not his policies, are what did him in. In this space and elsewhere, I wrote on Jan. 20, 2016 that “Trump, still at the top in the GOP polls, is the Democrats’ greatest gift. He plays loose with the truth, is bombastic, egotistical and sometimes crude. Those who feel that they would be comfortable with a Trump presidency are probably also comfortable with chaos which is what a Trump presidency would bring.” It did indeed bring chaos and the rally on Jan. 6 which incited a crowd to violence was the final straw. On Jan. 27, 2016, again in this space, I wrote: “Donald Trump speaks in sound bites and can’t seem to put three sentences together to form a coherent response to a question without getting off track…He classifies people as winners or losers and makes crazy promises.” Again, on several occasions, I wrote here and elsewhere that the GOP should “dump Trump” that he was “a buffoon” that he was not qualified to be president and was disrespectful to women and nearly everyone else who disagreed with him. Space prevents listing all the examples here but, if you wish, check the archives if your memory fails or you are an occasional reader.
But opposing his nomination does not mean that one must oppose his policies or dispute the results of the 2016 election which he won. And if anyone tells you that you must apologize for supporting those policies, or for having voted for him or for any of your political opinions, my advice is to remind them, politely, of course, and while observing social distancing, that this is, thank God, America and not Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea or any other of the mostly communist countries where free speech isn’t a right and any criticism of the party or those in power can get you in serious trouble. Meanwhile, here’s hoping that Republicans have learned a lesson and will nominate someone next time who, besides having some good ideas, actually knows how to be a president, act like one, respects people and who thinks before acting, speaking or tweeting. And here’s hoping also that Democrat leaders will get over their lust for revenge, learn to win gracefully, demonstrate that they know how to govern and actually seek national unity which means a lot more than just demanding that Republicans agree with them.