Thursday, January 14, 2021

impeachment notes

So I was reading the Congressional Record for impeachment day (PDF), and, besides the comment from Rules Committee chairman Jim McGovern about how he started out on Capitol Hill as an intern working for Senator George McGovern - "No relation. Great last name." - I was most interested in the speeches for and against the impeachment measure and the report that enabled it. So many representatives wanted to speak that the floor manager lined them up in alphabetical order and gave them 30 seconds each, which was not usually enough time to get past denunciations of the riot.

Most of the Democrats said the same thing - they denounced the riots and said therefore we must impeach - but the Republicans had a few points. One frequently deployed argument was that yeah, the riots were terrible, but what we need now is unity and healing, not recrimination. This was effectively responded to by Mike Quigley (D-IL), who said, "Never, as a criminal defense attorney, did I say: Judge, yeah, my guy completed the armed robbery, but let's heal now. No. There was accountability. There was accountability then, there should be accountability now, and there should be impeachment now."

Brian Mast (R-FL) asked what he intended as a rhetorical question, was there any evidence that rioters had come to Washington because Trump encouraged them to do so? An article in the Washington Post answered that: Yes.

But the strangest Republican argument was an attempt to somehow delegitimize the impeachment by claiming that Democrats have something against Trump and have been trying to impeach him since he took office. The usual response to this one was to point out that Democrats, as a group, voted those early attempts at impeachment down. They said that because at heart they're timorous beasties, just like Republicans. They should have said, "Yes indeed, we have something against Trump," and then said what it was with something like this:
The millions of Americans who understood this Presidency from its first day as a national emergency, a threat to domestic and global security, can be excused for finding it curious that so many are now taking the exit ramp for the road to Damascus three years and fifty weeks later. How surprising can Trump's recent provocation be when for years he has served as an inspiration to bigots everywhere, to damaged souls plotting to mail pipe bombs to journalists and to kidnap the governor of Michigan?
This dawning of conscience is as bewitching as it is belated. The grandees of the G.O.P. always knew who Trump was - they were among the earliest to confront his most salient qualities. During the 2016 campaign, Ted Cruz called Trump "a pathological liar" and "a snivelling coward." Chris Christie described him as a "carnival barker." Mitch McConnell remarked, with poetic understatement, that Trump "doesn't know a lot about the issues." And Lindsey Graham warned, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed." He added, "And we will deserve it." (David Remnick, New Yorker, 1/18)

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