It is amazing how powerful words are.
If a woman says to her friend “he cheated on me,” the friend immediately envisions the woman’s significant other having sex with another woman. Yet, society has widely agreed that “emotional cheating,” is still cheating. In other words, in this example, creating and engaging in a deep personal relationship with another woman at the expense of your mental intimacy with your significant other is a betrayal, and thus cheating. Fair enough, but it’s not really the same, is it? And it isn’t what most people imagine when asked to visualize the word “cheating.”
In the legal world, we distinguish between “rape,” and “sexual assault.” The latter of the two can be defined as grabbing a woman’s breast without her consent. The former, is literally defined by the United States Justice Department as “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Both awful, but far different experiences. Yet, when public figures are accused of sexual assault, the word far more often used in the media and society in general is “rape.” Why? It’s more jarring.
We give certain words power and gravitas. In the political world, impeachment is one of them.
Oooooooooohhh. Impeachment. Didn’t we learn about that in school? Isn’t that bad? Wasn’t Nixon impeached? Whoever Nixon was…
Many people who are truly bored by politics are now engaged thanks to the “I” word being invoked.
Since that horse has left the barn, I will do as I try to always do and lay-out, in dumbed down terms we can all understand, what is going on. But be clear; absolutely nothing changed last week when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a “formal investigation into Impeachment” of President Trump. No new powers were granted congress, nor did Democrats suddenly start doing anything they weren’t already doing. Trump has been investigated for a variety of things since he was inaugurated, and the invoking of the “I” word is merely a way to do exactly what it has done; gin everyone up and make them believe that this time, it’s serious. It’s always been serious; this is Public relations 101; make people care what you tell them to care about.
If really want the super-duper dumbed down version, leap to “translation,” below. The first few paragraphs are for my fellow wonks.
CHARGE: President Trump used his power to ask the President of Ukraine to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden and his involvement in using his power as VP to strongarm the country into firing a high powered political figure. Trump’s motivation was to damage his most prominent political opponent for the 2020 election and the one person the Trump administration has said over and over again they are most worried about running against. Trump’s leverage over Ukraine was to withhold almost $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine to help in their fight for sovereignty with Russia.
DEFENSE: Trump was merely asking a foreign leader to assist the United States in determining whether or not a foreign country had interfered in the U.S. election of 2016. While asking Ukraine to look into a Ukrainian computer company called “crowdstrike,” and their involvement in investigating the 2016 election, it was also mentioned that the United States needed to know if Biden, when he was Vice-President, used his position of power to pressure Ukraine to fire a political figure who had the ability to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from Biden’s son’s company who was working with Ukraine. The fact that Biden is one of Trump’s most likely political rivals is a coincidence. Oh, and the president of Ukraine had no reason the believe his country’s involvement was contingent on American aid, which had already been approved, though delayed (which Ukraine did not know at the time of the call).
REBUTTAL TO DEFENSE: Biden was merely echoing what every single major Western Democracy was already demanding; due to corruption, Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015, needed to be fired. The United States, as the world power, was the country that could deliver the message that American allies and the International Monetary Fund would withhold aid from Ukraine until Shokin was gone. The fact that Hunter Biden was consulting a firm that had ties to Ukraine is a coincidence which has been investigated and cleared.
TRANSLATION: They’re accusing each other of doing the exact same thing; using the power of the United States to coerce a foreign country to do something that will benefit them personally. Trump and his supporters claim he was defending the sovereignty of United States elections, Biden and his supporters claim he was acting as ambassador of the world to root out corruption in a nation accepting financial aid from dozens of nations.
WHY THEY’RE BOTH WRONG: Multiple things can be true at one time. Trump has every right to ask for more information about Crowdstrike’s role in the investigation of the 2016 election, and within that investigation determine if the Obama Administration, through Vice-President Biden, had leverage over Ukraine and therefore may have played a role in Trump versus Hillary. The fact that such an investigation could benefit Trump politically absolutely made such a request even more enticing to Trump.
Biden, as Vice-President, has not only a right, but an obligation, to deliver the messages of the world as it relates to a corrupt official of a foreign government, and the world’s demand that he be fired in exchange for large amounts of foreign financial aid. The fact that such a demand would benefit Biden’s son financially absolutely made such a demand even more enticing to Biden.
And what of the reality of the world? Are we seriously supposed to believe that Americans have any problem with either of these scenarios absent their allegiances to political parties? For almost a century, the United States has used its’ leverage as the largest economy and greatest military power in the world to coerce other nations to do what the U.S. wants them to do on behalf of whatever it is that we believe is best for America.
THE “THEY ALL DO IT” ARGUMENT: How many Americans are so naïve that they genuinely believe that American politicians don’t use their power and influence to enrich themselves and their family’s lives? That’s a serious question and a scary one if the answer is high as I fear. The real question is whether or not Americans believe that…or whether or not Americans actually believe that only the “other side,” does that. Does anyone really believe that Donald and Eric Trump have not made millions upon millions of dollars for themselves and their company by using their father’s position of power as leverage around the world? Seriously? Are their honestly people who believe that nations gave over $100 million to he Clinton foundation in 2015 and 2016 merely because they thought it was a neat cause and not in exchange for political considerations from President Hillary? Seriously?
The fact that, in the end, each side is accusing the other, of doing what those of us that aren’t children know happens all the time is striking. Does that make it right? Not necessarily, but it does at least elevate the discussion beyond fantasyland and closer to reality-ville.
The fact of the matter is this; If you went to a Trumpster and said “hey, look…he did it. He asked another country to ruin Biden to make the 2020 election more winnable,” how would that Trumpster react? Would he or she wilt in horror at the betrayal of their beloved chosen leader? Would they demand he be held accountable? Or would they say something akin to “well, if that’s what it takes to get 4 more years than so be it.”
And if you went to an Anti-Trumpster and said “hey look, the truth is that he had every right to do what he did and he really had no motivation to harm Biden. In fact, Obama and Biden did stuff like this all the time.” Would the Trump hater stand up straight and say “well, in that case, I’m glad he’s been exonerated let’s get on with the business of the country?” Or would they say something akin to “well, can we at least use it to make him look like he did something wrong so that we can get rid of him anyway?”
If you have any intellectual honesty, you know the answer to both.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN: Candidly? No one knows and it is a volatile situation…literally anything could happen as follows:
- This could be another Trump/Russia/Mueller nothing-burger that chews up space for months and goes nowhere.
- This could lead to the partisan divide many expect; the House of Representatives could vote to impeach Trump, and the Senate could decline to prosecute him, exactly as happened to President Clinton, thus leaving Trump in office and forcing the American people to pass judgment in the election of 2020 against an impeached but not convicted sitting president.
- This could snowball into something that either is, or has the appearance of being, serious enough that leads to enough Republicans bailing on Trump, diminishing his political capitol and causing them to join in voting to Impeach Trump, convict him, and put President Mike Pence in place. In such a scenario, the election of 2020 chaotically becomes a sitting President, far more radical than his predecessor, running with the full-throated support of his impeached former boss and all those who believe that a coup has just happened in America running against an emboldened, smelling-blood-army of politically passionate people who see an opportunity to seize control of the U.S. government en masse (the goal of both parties all of the time, to be clear).
- God only knows
There. You’re up to speed. Good luck with that, America.