by Wendell Barnhouse
The author is an inveterate press row and press box professional who has written on deadline from 25 Final Fours and some three dozen bowl games. An institution around the Metroplex, this is his first column for MH and we’re thrilled to have him.
I am 65. My parents and other parents of those my age belonged to what has been labeled The Greatest Generation. A world war that cost millions of lives shouldn’t be a high point for a country but being at the forefront of helping rid the world of tyranny was America’s shining moment.
Since then, it’s been downhill … what, too cynical? Too negative?
My fellow Baby Boomers and I have witnessed an erosion of this country’s moral center. Not yet two decades into the 21st century and the United States is as divided as it has been since Appomattox. Granted, absent the Civil War, there have been numerous contentious and calamitous periods in our country’s history where the citizens might have wondered if the republic would survive. Obviously, it did.
It is conceited to speak for most Americans, but I believe there’s a majority who can see through the smoke and ignore the reflections in the mirrors. I would wager there’s a majority who understand that we’re at a crossroads and it’s time to demand better from our government, our politicians and our ill-functioning two-party system.
Instead, this is one man’s opinion and perspective. My background is over 40 years as a newspaper sportswriter; that hardly qualifies for Pulitzer or Nobel prize consideration. I have been fooled and led astray before. I’m smart enough to know that. My thoughts have evolved through observation. I think I can offer a pragmatic view to explain why and how we’re here.
Donald J. Trump became president in part because of cynicism and distrust that was born nearly 60 years ago. What we face now is deciding if Trump is a sign post. A dead end? An exit ramp? Trump is either the enema that will cleanse the system or he’s just the first in a series of shit storms.
Robert Mueller and his team investigated and interviewed for two years and then produced a report of more than 400 pages. Mueller, ever the good soldier, followed his orders and the order of the law. He followed procedure. He handed the ultimate decision to Congress.
The evidence is clear that Trump attempted to obstruct justice. The evidence of colluding with Russia, according to Mueller’s report, is less clear but nonetheless obvious. What is clear and factual is that Trump’s minions were approached by and met with Russian intelligence agents before the election. Normally, those types of meetings woulda, shoulda, coulda been reported to law enforcement. Instead, it appears naivete provided a get-out-of-jail-free card. Folks like Donald Trump Jr., basically, were too dumb to know better.
As he has for most of his life, Daddy Trump will get away with it. There is enough in the Mueller Report to give the House reason to impeach on obstruction. There aren’t enough Republican senators with the spine or the love of country to provide enough votes for impeachment. This is like a trial where the prosecutor presents an air-tight case, but the jury is prejudiced against a verdict based on the facts. The GOP, forever the party that has clung to the rule of law, now only cares to cling to its waning power.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, possibly the best-qualified Democratic candidate for president and probably the least-likely to win the nomination, tweeted this:
“To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways. The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”
To review, here are just some of the crimes (some misdemeanors, most felonies) committed since Trump became president.
- Emoluments violations: Trump empire trading influence for money.
- Trump inauguration committee over-billing for profit.
- Wikileaks involvement in election.
- Trump having lawyer Michael Cohen pay Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal for silence; campaign violation?
- Paul Manafort selling campaign research to Russian operatives.
- NRA = largest Trump campaign contributor; 23 different Russian entities gave money to NRA.
- Trump obstruction of justice firing FBI director James Comey.
- Trump witness tampering telling Cohen to lie, then threatening his testimony to Congress.
- Trump hiding/suppressing transcripts of meetings with Vladimir Putin.
- Russia holding kopromat information that makes Trump vulnerable to blackmail.
- Trump Tower Moscow.
- Refusal to release tax returns.
- Ties to Deutsche Bank money laundering and loans.
- Ordering unconstitutional imprisonment of migrant families.
- Declaring a national emergency (Google it if you’re fuzzy) when there was no emergency.
Just one or two of those should be enough to impeach a president. Many have compared the Trump Crime Spree with Watergate, but Trump’s malfeasance makes that look like a third-rate burglary (Ed Note: !).
Regardless of party affiliation, I’m naïve enough to believe that citizens with common sense ignore the fake news, “witch hunt,” presidential harassment bool sheet to see Trump for what he is: A lying, cheating con man, an empty suit. If he’s not impeached, when he leaves office (hopefully after one term) he’ll spend the rest of his life in court as the defendant in a dozen lawsuits. (You’re right, Donald. You’re f*cked.)
Trump has bankrupted his way through life and has never had to pay a price. Perhaps that’s why the MAGA hats admire him for getting away with it. If so, Superman’s favorite phrase – truth, justice and the American way – has been perverted. If Trump isn’t punished, there is no truth and no justice in the American Way.
My generation has seen the lies and the injustice from front-row seats. Perhaps we’ve become overwhelmed, jaded or just damn tired.
We’ve fought wrong wars in Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan where too many young lives ended and too many lies were told by our leaders to justify the reasons to fight.
We watched the first president to resign be pardoned even though he committed crimes to win an election for a second term that was already won. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon because he thought the country needed to heal. That wound is still open and fresh. (And let’s never forget that Nixon committed a treasonous act by sabotaging Vietnam peace talks to assure his narrow victory in 1968.)
We watched another Republican president become involved in a scandal that should have led to impeachment. Ronald Reagan, though, was in his second term and Iran-Contra was Watergate-too-soon. The country was distracted by the excesses of the ‘80s – life in the fast lane, everything all the time. We weren’t being drafted for a war on the other side of the world and didn’t care about illegal arms sales to Iran to fund right-wing rebel groups in Central America. President George H.W. Bush pardoned six people involved in the scandal; his attorney general (William Barr) supported those pardons.
Who killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman? Not O.J. Simpson.
The bank executives who cooked the books and nearly caused a world financial collapse in 2008 are still making bank and never were charged with committing financial fraud.
Police shoot a black man and there’s video evidence that it wasn’t a “righteous shoot” but the grand juries and the court cases rarely produce a righteous result.
We have a Senate majority leader who rules over that chamber like a king. Mitch McConnell bends the rules and makes the decisions purely along party lines. His declaration that his main duty was to make sure Barack Obama would not be elected to a second term should have been reason to censure or expel. His mockery of Senate rules prevented Obama from even nominating a Supreme Court justice. Now, SCOTUS is, at best, a split branch with Chief Justice John Roberts left to cast most deciding votes. Like Nixon, he reportedly committed an act of treason by failing to agree to a bi-partisan announcement that the Russians were trying to influence the 2016 election.
You can do the crime and not do the time. There’s a Thanos-sized thumb on the scales of justice.
How naïve were our Founding Fathers? They set up three branches of government to provide checks and balances. It looked good on parchment. They assumed and hoped that the men serving in those branches would choose right over wrong, the greater good over self-interest, country over party.
Trump has cravenly trashed Washington like Godzilla trashes Tokyo. The Democrats in the House are worried that an impeachment charge won’t bring a conviction. The Republicans in the Senate are afraid of Trump’s 50 million Twitter followers. Courage and spines are in short supply.
My generation has allowed and observed our country to be FUBAR. True, it has “survived” Vietnam, Watergate, the 2000 “election” and the 2008 financial meltdown. We’ve always assumed that The System was designed to keep functioning. It’s closer to failure than function. For some reason, generations need identification. It started with Baby Boomers, followed by Generation X, Millennials, Centennials. While cynical about now, I’m naïvely hopeful. Maybe Generation Fix is in the on-deck circle.