Did something good just happen? We’re getting word that something good just happened. It’s a small thing, at least for now, but we ought to point out anything salvageable that comes ashore along with the chaos and nihilism and megalomania and despair that have so characterized this charming era in American history. You see, there is a Republican in the Congress who gives a shit about offenses against the Constitution.
Mitt Romney was once the Quantum Candidate, the man whose only truly verifiable belief was that he should be president. His healthcare system in Massachusetts was the model for Obamacare, a piece of legislation he then decried as the end of all things. But what motive except principle could he have for voting to convict Donald Trump on the charges of impeachment leveled against him by the House of Representatives? What does he have to gain in the here and now?
Granted, Romney has more money than God, and he’s not up for re-election until 2024. But the Utah senator is from a deep-red state. He knows the backlash from the zombified precincts of Trump’s Republican Party will be nonsensically ferocious. (They’re already calling for him to be recalled from office, which is not possible.) He could easily have blended in with the other senatorial cowards—like Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski—whom the Objective Journalists tell us are “moderates.” Somehow, we’re told, they’re different from the rest of the caucus, despite the fact that they, like Lindsey Graham and the other authoritarian freakshows, move in lockstep with Mitch McConnell at all times.
No, Romney set himself apart. Even if he is only concerned with the judgment of history, it has put him in a far better place than the sycophants and enablers who so befouled the old halls of the legislature during the president’s pantomime State of the Union address Tuesday night. Romney’s speech was sweeping, decisive, and hardly short on moral clarity.
In one section, he got to the heart of it.
What he did was not “perfect”— no, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.
That’s it. The president attacked American democracy, undermining the legitimacy of an American presidential election, to keep himself in power. He used his power to stay in power, regardless of the people’s will. It is the essential abuse of power. It is the elemental high crime and misdemeanor. The president extorted an ally who’s under assault by authoritarian Russia until they agreed to ratfuck his domestic political opponent for his own personal gain. Then he sent his lawyers to the floor of the United States Senate to argue that if he deems his re-election to be in the national interest, he can do anything to get re-elected. Never mind that the purpose of the election is to allow voters to decide if his re-election is in the national interest. These craven fools would make for themselves an American king and gleefully bow before him.
If the president is acquitted, and it appears he will be, he will put Alan Dershowitz’s despicable argument to the test. He will do the same he did with Ukraine, and more, here and abroad. Susan Collins has enabled this on the hilarious pretense that “the president has learned from this case.” The idea Donald Trump is chastened when he gets away with something was absurd on its own before Trump declared, within 24 hours, that he still believed what he’d done was “perfect.” Now Collins says she should have said she “hopes” Trump learned a lesson. How’s that for an historical epitaph?
Romney will pay the price for his integrity in a party that has jettisoned any discernible principle beyond full-bore allegiance to The Leader. Already, Junior is calling for him to be expelled from the party, because there is nothing holding the party together except frightened servitude. Republicans do not care about The National Debt. They’ve said nothing as Trump exploded it and the deficit hit $1 trillion a year. They don’t care about free markets over government intervention in the economy. Trump is driving a fully socialist program to pay farmers whose businesses have been decimated by his trade war. All anyone cares about in this new American Versailles is garnering the leader’s favor. Romney, for all his past malleability, should be applauded for standing up straight when his colleagues would bend to greed and fear.