During the first 186 years of the U.S. Constitution’s existence, only one president was impeached. And yet, within the last 45 years, three different presidents have faced impeachment.
Is this a consequence of increased polarization, where opposing political parties seek the ultimate punishment? Or is it a random historical coincidence, and a vast amount of high crimes and misdemouners just happens to be taking place during a relatively short time? Or has Congress only now noticed the impeachment clause hiding in the Constitution, and thought, “Hey, as long as it’s there, we might as well use it”?
Well, personally, I think more presidents should have been impeached throughout history, so maybe it’s just that our predecessors overlooked some pretty egregious shit.
In any case, this impeachment process is different from the others, and not just because we are seeking to remove a brittle, easily agitated ignoramus who was never qualified to be president in the first place.
No, it’s because the issue of fairness has never before been such a concern when we’re discussing whether or not we should evict someone from the White House.
You see, Republicans are obsessed with being fair to Donald Trump. Their arguments throughout this entire process have had little to do with the facts (there is little dispute about what happened), or the appropriateness of pressuring a foreign government to interfere in our electoral process.
For example, Republicans are very big on identifying the whistleblower. “Who is the whistleblower? Is he the whistleblower? Are you, them, or it the whistleblower? Hey, I think I’ll name someone I think is the whistleblower, even if it’s against the law and opens the door to death threats!”
Now, all but the dimmest of Republicans know that it simply doesn’t matter who the whistleblower is. All that matters is whether what he/she reported is true. And by the way, all the allegations have been verified about six thousand times now.
So even if Hilary Clinton were the whistleblower, it wouldn’t matter when assessing Trump’s innocence (although that would be a hell of a plot twist, and I’m sure someone’s working on the screenplay right now).
When they’re not insisting that they need to know the whistleblower’s identity (for absolutely no valid reason), Republicans are bemoaning that Robert Mueller, the FBI, and just about everyone who has investigated the president has some deeply held bias against him that corrupts the very act of looking into Trump’s criminal behavior.
Again, even if every single person involved in investigating Trump possessed a seething contempt and loathing for the man (and really, who could blame them?), it would not matter.
Bias is irrelevant as long as the facts are correct. If someone commits a crime, we do not say he can walk solely because the cops and the district attorney don’t like him.
Unless the GOP is willing to argue that this imaginary bias provoked investigators to plant evidence and make up transcripts — which I’m shocked they haven’t done yet — then this too is a pathetic smokescreen.
By the way, I’m old enough to remember Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and I have no recollection of anyone claiming that Kenneth Starr had an obligation to be fair and unbiased. Granted, much of the public debate at that time centered on whether a blowjob counted as “sex,” but the point remains.
Among the other accusations of unfairness is the GOP opinion that this process is being rushed, or that Joe Biden and his entire family committed far greater crimes.
At the risk of indulging absurdity, it should be pointed out that even if Biden shot someone on Fifth Avenue — to make up a totally deranged example — it would have no bearing on whether or not Trump should be kicked out of office. Impeachment is about the president’s behavior, not the possible shenanigans of his political rival’s kids.
Speaking of children, I can’t be the only one who thought it was odd when Republicans lost their minds over an impeachment witness making a pun about the president’s son’s name. These same defenders of the sanctity of childhood have no problem stuffing other, brown-skinned kids into cages. But hey, they’ve got their priorities.
And those priorities include shrieking that the impeachment process is a grotesque travesty of justice.
Um, no — a grotesque travesty of justice would be, for example, what happened to the Central Park Five.
Oh, that’s right. Trump was one the loudest voices perpetuating that particular injustice.
And that’s what is so interesting about the GOP’s new and sudden interest in fairness.
You see, this is the same party that dismisses wealth inequality and shoddy health care as the price of freedom. They care little that well-documented racial imbalances exist in every facet of American life. They do not concern themselves with the fact that the Electoral College screws over the will of the people.
The concept of fairness never enters the GOP equation for any of those issues. To Republicans, being fair means being nice to the Republican president, and shutting up as they plot their right-wing power grab.
That’s all it has ever meant to them.
Featured image: New York Magazine