It’s snowed some in Madison during the last week. Enough to require tending, but insufficient to require focus; the kind of chore that allows one’s mind to wander.
In order to be a successful President, one needs many qualities; some need to be visible, others perhaps best kept from public view. I would venture that one of those that needs to be apparent to our people, whether real or feigned, is empathy for them. President-elect Biden clearly genuinely possesses this attribute, to even an unusual degree. That said, there are other qualities that a President must manifest to our people and the world in order to be successful: among them, that s/he is decisive; and that s/he is a winner.
When the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) staged a strike in 1981 not allowed by law, believing that President Ronald Reagan had no choice but to accede to its demands, he instead fired the strikers and installed substitutes. His presidency was then undoubtedly in psychological peril – if a plane had crashed due to the incompetence of a substitute controller, all would have justifiably blamed Mr. Reagan, and his Administration would have been figuratively over. No plane crashed. Whatever one thinks of what he did – there is much educated commentary to the effect that PATCO’s unauthorized action and Mr. Reagan’s aggressive response had a sharply deleterious long term effect on the American labor movement — the general public perception at the time was that Mr. Reagan had “stood tall”; and – since no plane had crashed – that he had prevailed, was a winner. After what was considered too much well-meaning but ineffectual equivocation by President Jimmy Carter, the majority of Americans supported it. It set a tone that despite an outwardly amiable manner, Mr. Reagan was not to be trifled with – an impression that served both him and the country well throughout his presidency.
Current media reports indicate that Mr. Biden is electing not to “weigh in” on Congressional Democrats’ impeachment efforts. I would suggest that if such reports are accurate, the President-elect is making a strategic mistake. I believe that he should indeed carefully weigh, and then weigh in upon, whether he wants the Senate to conduct an impeachment trial of then-former President Donald Trump during the first days of the Biden Administration. More important than the time that the trial will syphon from Biden priorities, if the trial goes forth, Mr. Biden must win to maintain momentum with the American people, and Mr. Trump must lose – i.e., Mr. Trump must be convicted. (I give little credence to the argument that no matter the outcome of the impeachment trial, Republicans need to be “put on the record” for supporting Mr. Trump. Any Senate Republican who places political considerations above Constitutional duty when voting to acquit Mr. Trump will have first calculated that there will be no significant adverse consequence to being “put on the record.”)
By all accounts, the President-elect enjoys a reasonably amicable relationship with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Mr. Biden should call Mr. McConnell directly, and essentially say this: “Mitch, you want Trump gone as much as I do. You know he should be convicted. One thing neither of us want is to have him acquitted at trial – it’ll look like he won and we lost. If you can guarantee me 20 Republican votes to convict [note: only 17 Republican votes are needed if all 50 Democrats vote to convict, but in such a toxic environment, a little leeway would seem vital], I’m going to tell Pelosi and Schumer that I think they should get the ball rolling right now, while the iron is hot. If you can’t, I’m going to tell Pelosi that I strongly believe that she should hold the impeachment article for a while.”
If Mr. McConnell would say that he could deliver the 20 votes, the impeachment track would be clear. If he would say that he couldn’t guarantee a Trump impeachment conviction, if I was Mr. Biden, I’d call Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and strongly encourage her to hold the impeachment article – not send it to the Senate – until a more propitious time; that the important thing was to avoid a political imbroglio that would endanger the COVID relief package and perhaps delay or derail Administration Cabinet appointments. If Ms. Pelosi at first demurred – either out of understandable desire to see Mr. Trump punished, or out of concern for her ability to hold her caucus in line – I’d point out, as incoming President of the United States, that I considered it to be in the nation’s best interest for her to temporarily defer; that I saw no value in “making a statement” in a losing cause that would give Trump oxygen; that we needed to win — and McConnell couldn’t assure me we would. If she needed cover, I was ready to say during my inaugural address that while I would put the full support of the Biden Administration behind all law enforcement efforts to immediately bring to justice all those responsible for the storming of the Capitol, I had asked the House of Representatives to delay for a period in forwarding the article of impeachment against Mr. Trump because I didn’t want any attention diverted from Congress’ need to pass a COVID package to combat a disease that had already killed 400,000 Americans.
I submit that such a declaration would show both empathy and a clear exertion of leadership of his party by Mr. Biden, who at times has appeared an affable “Not Trump” figurehead. It’s hard to believe that Ms. Pelosi would disregard a request from the incoming President of the United States that he indicated he felt was in the best interests of the nation (which I consider a clear contrast to the obsequiousness of the Congressional Republicans over the last four years, who constantly kowtowed to the illiberal actions of a grotesque psyche that they well understood cared only about what was in his own best interest.) The delay in proceeding with the impeachment trial provides the added benefit of a sword over Mr. Trump’s head, and does nothing to delay the many criminal investigations reportedly hounding him.
To use one of Mr. Trump’s favorite phrases: we’ll see what happens.
Two ancillary, yet particularly distressing impressions:
The most grievous accusations I have heard relating to the events of January 6, save those leveled at Mr. Trump himself, are that Republican members of Congress may have assisted rioters by facilitating their reconnaissance of the Capitol layout in the days before the attack, and may have been texting seditionists during the attack regarding the location of Ms. Pelosi. If/when authorities establish that these accusations are baseless, such should forthrightly be announced. If, on the other hand, investigators uncover sufficient evidence of such a conspiratorial relationship between any member(s) of Congress and the rioters to support an indictment against the member(s), such member(s) should be immediately expelled from Congress, face the maximum charges – including sedition – that such evidence will support, and if convicted receive the severest sentence allowed by law.
We have heard multiple reports that a number of Republican House members believed impeachment of Mr. Trump was warranted, but nonetheless voted against the article because they feared for their personal safety or that of their families. I would submit that such failure, although understandable in human terms, nonetheless constituted Constitutional malfeasance. These politicians, despite their oath of office, seemingly think they have a seat on Student Council rather than in the legislature of the most powerful nation on earth. They have forfeited the moral standing necessary to render judgment on any President’s recommendation to send our troops into harm’s way. Although perhaps harsh, I believe that given the importance of their responsibilities, those that have openly admitted that their fears influenced their House impeachment votes should be encouraged to resign and if they refuse, should be expelled for dereliction of duty.
Although it was snowy this week, it wasn’t too cold. Hopefully, next weekend, it will be very cold and very snowy in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While there is no chance that Tampa Bay Buccaneer Quarterback Tom Brady, given his years in New England, will be intimidated by Lambeau Field conditions when the Bucs battle the Green and Gold for the National Football Conference Championship next Sunday, hopefully Mr. Brady’s teammates, more acclimated to temperate playing conditions, will be.
In any past year in which the Green Bay Packers were only a game away from the Super Bowl, mullings of their prospects for another Lombardi Trophy would have dominated shoveling ruminations, rather than being mere afterthoughts. Hopefully, the affairs of our Republic will have stabilized sufficiently during 2021 that customary and more congenial thought patterns will primarily accompany snow shoveling in January, 2022; after all, Packer Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will then be but 38, and Mr. Brady continues to perform at a championship level at age 43.
The driveway and sidewalk are clear. Time for some hot chocolate.