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Good for the gander / October 02, 2019
This report from The Washington Post on Monday certainly caught my eye:

RICHMOND — Virginia state Sen. Amanda F. Chase strapped a .38 Special to her hip and swaggered through her first term in “Mr. Jefferson’s” Capitol like she owned the joint. The Chesterfield County Republican cussed out a cop over a parking spot, called the Senate clerk “Miss Piggy” and said rape victims are “naive and unprepared.”

Chase was swashbucklingly on brand again recently at the staid Country Club of Virginia, where she staged a fund raiser with Joy Villa, a performer who went to the Grammys this year in a gown resembling President Trump’s border wall, accessorized with metal spikes and barbed wire.

“I love ballsy women,” gushed antiabortion activist Leslie Davis Blackwell, as Chase and Villa posed for pictures and declared themselves kindred disrupters.

In a state where Trump’s approval rating is in the basement, Chase is the rare suburban Republican who is embracing the president as she seeks a second term in a pivotal election this November.

The Post article was headlined, “With Trump-style bravado, suburban state senator alienates her own party.” Indeed, Senator Chase has turned off area Republicans so thoroughly that the Chesterfield County GOP has kicked her out of the party.

Which begs the question: When will Republicans do the same with their major domo, President Trump?

State Sen. Chase may be a privileged buffoon — lipping off to the Capitol Police in the manner alleged of Chase would buy you and me a night in a jail cell — but she’s but a mere echo of the boss, and look at how Republican officeholders bow and scrape at his feet.

Seriously, what gives? Are Republicans secretly ashamed of the corrupt human tornado, as Hillary Clinton called her old rival this week in an undeniably apt bit of phrasing? Why is it that we’re reading so many bombshells in the news that are tied to sources inside the White House, generally described as unnamed senior officials and persons not authorized to speak directly but privy to Oval Office deliberations?

It might be easy to brush off White House leaks that describe the lawlessness, corruption and general insanity of this president, except for the fact the stories keep turning out to be true. Surely you’ve read by now about the biggest leak of all — the existence of a whistleblower report alleging that Trump has compromised America’s national security in his dealings with a foreign power.

Surely you have heard this news, because it’s all so last week. As questions intensified about the nature of the whistleblower’s allegations, the White House undertook what must have seen like a brilliant move at the time — releasing a rough transcript of a July 25 conservation between Trump and the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. (It’s going to be a real challenge keeping names straight with a scandal that spans continents.) The conversation between Trump and Zelensky concerned the withholding of $400 million in U.S. aid to help Ukraine stave off the encroachment of Russia next door. After Zelensky expressed eagerness to purchase more American anti-tank weapons, Trump said to him, “I would like you to do us a favor though.”

That favor, of course, was digging up dirt on Trump’s political foe, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. The younger Biden has an unseemly but perfectly legal connection to Ukraine as a board member of one of its big natural gas companies. No credible evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden has ever come to light in connection with Hunter Biden’s service on the gas company board, which surely explains Trump’s eagerness to prod Zelensky into digging something up. Before we go any further, let’s allow that there’s a greasy relationship here for the younger Biden that demonstrates anew, like we needed the reminder, that all kinds of legal behavior in the political and business worlds ought not to be. Yet compared to Trump — or Trump’s children, who’ve sought to profit off the presidency since Day One — the dealings of Hunter Biden don’t just fail to rise to the level of small potatoes, they’re not even a french fry.

The Trump White House is so incompetent that officials there (led by the King Tweet) apparently believed the release of notes from the July 25 conversation would quell the storm. LOL. Instead, here we are, a week later, and Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry, and Trump’s usual lickspittles have responded by going on TV and making all kinds of laughable defenses on behalf of the Commander-in-Cheat.

This is a simple story, which is why Trump is in such trouble: he plainly sought to extort a foreign leader to come up with dirt against Biden, holding out much-needed U.S. aid (including $250 million for Ukraine’s military) in an invitation for a foreign country to intervene in the 2020 election. In doing so, he most likely broke laws barring foreign contributions to U.S. political campaigns, not to mention statutes against bribery and extortion. More seriously still, he violated his oath of office to secure and protect the United States from outside influence in ways that easy fit the Founders’ conception of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

We already know this much — it’s right there in the phone call! The question is, how much else is there that we do not know? And is there enough “there there” that it becomes impossible to tie the matter to a single conversation which, for better or worse, could conceivably be waved off as Trump having one of his usual tantrums? That’s what the impeachment inquiry launched by Democrats this week will seek to find out.

Look, it’s obviously a serious thing to contemplate the removal of a president from office. Impeachment should not be taken lightly, nor out of an overt political desire to overturn the will of the people (notwithstanding the fact Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes in 2016). Democrats need to carry out a careful process, realizing that impeachment in the House is very unlikely to result in conviction in the Senate. (This is the two-step process for removing a president from office under the Constitution’s impeachment clause.) All this said, Trump’s unfitness for office has been plain as day the moment he first set foot in the White House. Democrats know it, congressional Republicans who aren’t complete wingnuts know it, and some significant share of the White House staff knows it, too.

So what say ye, members of the Grand Old Party, those of you who ousted a member of your own ranks in Virginia — in the middle of a highly contested struggle for control of the General Assembly in elections one month from now, no less? How can you can turn your backs on poor liddle Amanda Chase but lack the spine to do the same with her idol, “the big guy”? Sen. Chase, for all her evident faults, does not stand accused of flouting her oath of office and trashing the Constitution. She may have a tendency to bark at the law, but she hasn’t created a sense of lawlessness at the top echelons of the U.S. government. She’s just a lowly peon, or troll, or something. I thought Republicans were tough-minded realists, ready to take on the difficult problems that namby-pamby liberals were too scared to confront, but apparently this is a rough-n-ready mindset reserved strictly for dealing with the little people.

Trump and his minions: so many of them, you can’t keep count of ‘em all.

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