By Bill O. Smith
“So what will we do this day? Do we want to retain our honor, our principle, and our moral authority? For me, and for many members in my impeachment-fatigued party, I choose honor.”
— Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
“I think we have seen the truth. And I think the final truth is that the President should be held to the very highest of standards.”
— James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
“Once you lose your moral authority to lead, you’re a failure as a leader.”
— Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
So spoke three currently-serving senators who — along with 42 other Republican senators — voted to remove the president from office.
What was Bill Clinton’s impeachment-worthy “high crime”? It was obstructing justice to cover up a private sexual affair.
The current hearings involve the extortion of a vulnerable ally fighting a hot war against our greatest adversary in order to help ensure the president’s reelection in 2020. This represents an actual threat to democratic rule and national security. Surely, we are addressing a higher crime and misdemeanor than covering up sex with an intern.
But will that matter? Will McConnell, Inhofe and Grassley find that President Trump has lost “moral authority,” find that President Trump should also “be held to the highest of standards”?
Don’t count on it. Senators are supposed to be fair-minded jurors. But the lead Republican juror, Sen. Lindsey Graham, already has condemned this process as “bullt,” already has decried honored ambassadors, respected diplomats and decorated war heroes as being complicit in a scam. Other GOP senators already have pronounced the hearings a “waste of time” and a “partisan circus.”
So much for a fair-minded jury. If this extraordinary extortion doesn’t matter, what does?
Of course, Democrats also must be fair. First-hand witnesses, along with all relevant documentation, could convincingly exonerate the president. However, when the president himself blocks critical officials and materials from being examined, he is obstructing the very justice he complains about being deprived of.
In the past, senators like Jim Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) have chosen truth over polls.
There are honorable politicians on both sides of the aisle.
But indications are that most Republican senators will choose to ignore honor, ignore compelling testimony from humble, deeply patriotic public servants and war heroes, ignore the president’s refusal to provide first-hand testimony and materials, ignore compelling evidence, will indeed abandon reason and conscience.
Instead, they appear ready to deploy all their oratory skills to excuse behavior they would have justifiably found an outrageous threat to Constitution and country … in a Democrat.
A decade ago, then-Congressman Michael Pence said “Integrity in government is not a Democrat or Republican issue.” I hope his party is listening.
I hope that in the near future President Pence, along with the kind of honorable Republicans I once voted for, will work with Democrats to restore that integrity.
President Trump is not draining the swamp. In plain sight, he is transforming it into a cesspool. I hope for justice, but plan for November.
About the author: Bill O. Smith is a former Traverse City elementary school principal and currently a community volunteer and author of picture books for children.