Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, October 18, 2019

TWGB: Time's Arrow

There is an annoying refrain I am hearing among people who don't like the impeachment inquiry that it is being used as a means to "cancel" the 2016 election because Dems haven't "gotten over" the results. First of all, I am still not over the 2000 election, thank you very much, but there's a few simple, sad things that have to be recognized. The first is--impeachment is right there in the Constitution as a device for removing a president for high crimes and misdemeanors, but there is no tool for nullifying the election itself, or reversing all that that president has done in whatever time they have been president. History does not work that way, and Trump's years in office, his appointments to the bench, his policies, will continue to affect us even once he's out of office. The process can't unravel existing damage. (And should not be blamed for astonishingly poor decisions that the president makes during the process, either in obstructing justice or in making bad policy decisions.)

Democrats can't use the impeachment inquiry to undo the three years of Trump's presidency any more than he can go back and revise his own history, or the history of what other presidents have tried to accomplish by stating that one's most recent duct-taping* of a self-created disaster was something that had been tried without success for ten years. History, like time, marches on in one direction.

So it goes for defenses of Trump's foreign policy in general: that elections have consequences, and that Trump's foreign policy was bound to be a change from his predecessors'. But should it have meant an entire change in our goals and alliances?  Should it have meant a break with the reputation Americans have worked so hard to create? As I have argued before, alliances aren't easy to create and trust, once broken, isn't easy to mend--Trump gets this wrong. To employ a metaphor that Gen. Colin Powell has used--he has broken something and it must be bought, but Trump gives no thought to who actually pays for it.

With this thought in mind about how history can't be taken back, I think we should also look at something Acting COS Mick Mulvaney would like to take back: his comments about whether of course there are quid pro quos and we do it all the time (and people should get over it). Once that statement was not just made, but so enthusiastically, it's a bit hard to take back (especially when the appearance of a quid pro quo has been outlined in better detail by people with some first-hand knowledge). This tactic (if it is one) of announcing "Yes it happened and it quite all right" as front page news for Trump (and Trump fans) and walking it back as page six news for the benefit of rule of law enthusiasts shouldn't be allowed to fly.

But as we continue to uncover what depths Trump's actions have reached, Trump has also lost nothing (despite his claims of great sacrifices) having awarded the contract to host the June 2020 G7 summit to his own (failing) Doral property. The administration can claim he will not profit from this situation (trying to say it is not an emoluments clause issue at all, at all) because Trump will be doing it "at cost". (And we will see the receipts later--just like his tax returns!) But the boot to him of being able to sell his property as a world-class venue hosting world leaders is a priceless advertising opportunity. He will proceed as corruptly and unmindfully of any law--until prevented. We can not undo Trump's history and barely affect what he does presently.

We must act for the future.

*UPDATE: Just to be clear, even if Trump himself isn't, entirely, and in case I'm not being clear enough myself, we don't have a five-day ceasefire so much as the imposition of some order on an ethnic cleansing.

UPDATE: Turkey has ceased exactly nothing.

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