Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Is McConnell playing Long Game? -- Impeach Fast, Convict Slow

 Now that Donald Trump has been impeached a second time in his role as President, the question moves to the Senate where until January 22, Mitch McConnell is still in charge. To quote the classic Cold War film Hunt for Red October, he is "a politician, which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops. But it also means I keep my options open." And, while the word on the street is that McConnell supports the idea of impeachment and has told Republicans it is the way they purge Trump from the party, he is not inclined to rush the trial and will not call the Senate back until January 19 at the earliest. 

And that is potentially a shrewd move, and it's probably the right one.

The nature of a conservative is to be prudent and cautious, and it's ultimately about moving slowly as opposed to being too rash. The Senate is designed to move slowly; that was the intention of the Founding Fathers, intended to temper the potentially radical intentions of the People's House. 

The most important aspect of conviction will be the ability of the Senate to prevent Donald Trump from ever running for office again. That's the end game. That's how Republicans purge him. They do not need to have the trial while he is still in office, though that is what the Pelosi, Schumer, and the Democrats want. The Democrats are looking for symbolic action of "removing him from office," even if it's just a few days. But that is not necessary, and it's more effective to wait, hold the trial later, convict him, and make a lifetime ban on public office or government service the primary stipulation. 

Holding the trial later will also potentially defuse some of the tension among ardent supporters, and it can provide cover for Republican representatives and senators who, according to Rep Jason Crow of Colorado, fear for their lives if they vote yes. And, granted, Crow is correct that the Republicans are in a way failing the American people because they lack the same conviction and sacrifice that they expect of the soldiers they vote to send to fight and die for the country. As Crow noted, "Some of my Republican colleagues are afraid of the consequences of an impeachment vote. This congress sends our young men & women to war. Not asking my colleagues to storm the beaches of Normandy, only to show a fraction of the courage we ask of our troops. It’s time to lead."

That said, it probably makes sense for Pelosi to speak with McConnell and play the long game to ensure the real prize -- get him out of office and keep him out of it forever.

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