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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,309

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ONCE in the last 150 years a President was impeached but then not removed from office

That's not a whole lot of precedent to go drawing sweeping conclusions from. Yet I see that one instance cited as evidence that a political party that fails to remove an impeached President from office then goes on to suffer at the polls in the following election.

Once is merely a data point. No one can even attempt to connect the dots because there is only that one dot. Period. One event does not a pattern make. One event can be explained by any number of theories. Mine? Republicans were caught blatantly playing politics with the most solemn of constitutional obligations. They deployed a nuclear weapon to punish a jay walking violation. They moved to nullify a national election based on "smoking gun" evidence such as Bill Clinton's famous assertion that "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is."

Republicans turned a sordid private sexual liaison between two consenting adults into a full blown constitutional crisis. A case could certainly be made that a President dallying with an intern showed poor judgement, or even an abuse of power on a personal level, fully separate from the discharge of his presidential duties. Essentially that's it. Bill Clinton was impeached in large part for lying under oath about a personally embarrassing matter. Worthy of a Congressional censure? Perhaps. Worthy of removing him from office? I think the American people gave a clear response to that question at the ballot box.

Nothing Bill Clinton did in office even remotely rose to a level that justified the forced removal from office of an American President for the first time in American history. Bill Clinton did not obstruct justice. He agreed to testify under oath to a grand jury, quite unlike the current President. Hell Donald Trump didn't just lie about an embarrassing sexual dalliance, he engaged in a criminal conspiracy to cover it up using hush money and shell companies, and he did so in direct violation of Federal laws regarding campaign finances and disclosure. Individual One is already an unindicted coconspirator to a Federal Felony that already led to the conviction of the man he directed to commit the crime. And that is the least of the High Crimes and Misdemeanors strong evidence points toward him committing.

Republicans suffered a stinging electoral rebuke after failing to remove Clinton because they played brutal politics with the most grave of constitutional responsibilities. The trial of Bill Clinton in the Senate was a joke, because the entire effort to remove him from office was a bad joke on America to begin with, and that was obvious to the American public from day one. Republicans allowed political calculations dictate their judgement when it came time to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the voters called them on that.

The impeachment of a President and the subsequent removal from office of a President should never be determined by a preset political agenda, whether that agenda is to remove a rival from office, or to best position one's party for an upcoming political contest. The evidence must speak for itself, and do so boldly. And the evidence must dictate the course of action undertaken, be that to impeach or to not impeach. Republicans played politics with impeachment before. Democrats should not now. Republicans were punished for doing so last time. And if the legitimate case against Donald Trump is strong enough, but Republicans circle their partisan wagons around him anyway, they will be punished by voters for doing so again come the 2020 elections.

O.J. Simpson was acquitted. Hertz did not rehire him.

The O.J. Simpson trial acquittal (temporarily) kept him out of jail. It did not improve his public image no matter how many times he said that it exonerated him.

Let the Republican Senate clear Trump along partisan lines if that is their choice. Let them own Trump as their national brand if they do. His entire sordid history will have been broadcast to the nation for weeks by then. No amount of Barr pre-report release type framing will be able to get out in front of the avalanche of dirt that will be viewed daily by tens of millions. By the time impeachment reaches the Senate other indictments, other scandals, may well also be on the table; coming from NY's Southern District and elsewhere. But there will already be more than enough to bury an elephant without that.

Trump and the Republicans will claim that he's been exonerated under every possible scenario short of his removal from office, and that includes the Democratic majority House failing to impeach him, or even bothering to try. They will label any Democratic oversight hearings a partisan abuse whether or not the word impeachment is associated with them. They call it all a witch hunt now. They will call it all a witch hunt then.

We can not let fear of Republican tactics constrain how Democrats uphold the Constitutional obligations that come with the offices they hold. Once we do so we validate the Republican narrative, that all of this is merely "political", that every step we take is driven by political calculations. And once we do that we have surrendered the high moral ground and any call to actual patriotism.

"It's all political". Those are the grounds that Republicans want to fight on. Let them. Let them be exposed as acting from narrow political interest in the Senate once the House moves on impeachment. Let them do so after the whole nation knows the full story about all of the charges that they would vote to clear Trump on. Hertz dumped Simpson as their spokesman. They understood rehiring him would further damage their national brand. Let the Republicans go all in on Trump. And then let the voters vote on the Trump Party brand.

If the House Does NOT Impeach Trump Will Use it Against Us.

For starters he would call that another case of his being "exonerated." His spin is as obvious as his orange hue. Democrats and the media raised "a hue and cry" about him working with the Russians, and demanded an investigation, claiming it would prove him guilty. Democrats got what they asked for but not the results they expected, he claims. Trump points to not being indicted, to "no evidence of collusion", as proof that the investigation was a hoax all along. Mueller called their bluff and exposed Democrats lies, that is the story in Trump world.

If the House does not impeach Trump Trump will say it is because the evidence does not support impeachment and Democrats know it. Full stop. Trump would call a failure to move articles of Impeachment against him as a tacit acknowledgement by Democrats that there are no real grounds to support that move. He will call the Mueller Report the first exoneration and no move toward impeachment as his second exoneration.

And then he will attack Democrats with it. He will call everything Democrats say in the wake of Mueller's Report being released as just an effort to smear him, because our lies would be exposed if Democrats actually attempted to make any formal move against him. And that, he will say, is why we don't take that step. I fully expect that Trump would go even further than that though. He would say that if Democrats really believed half of what they say against them they would have been bound by the Constitution to begin an Impeachment process.

Trump won't say that now of course. He will only say that after the impeachment threat is over AND the 2020 Presidential campaign is being waged against his by then designated Democratic opponent. He will say Democrats always knew that they lacked the evidence to impeach, so they had to resort to slander. He will say we couldn't put up but then refused to shut up. He will say any Democrat who actually believed the lies they kept spouting against him but didn't move to impeach him is a coward and even traitor to their oath of office, motivated only by politics and which way the wind is blowing. Trump will say that the House refusing to impeach him is the ultimate proof of his total innocence and the ultimate proof that it was always just a partisan witch hunt meant only to unlawfully take down his presidency

I frequently see a call for "vetting" Bernie Sanders. I welcome vetting Bernie Sanders

And the same goes for all of our candidates. I make this observation though. There is a fine line between vetting and attacking. Vetting means exploring possible legitimate concerns about a candidate. It means impartially examining his or her record to see if controversial stances or actions are contained within it that must be addressed. It means considering past or present behavior at odds with the values and beliefs that candidate currently espouses. It is a combination seeking of the truth and light probing to determine whether a candidate has critical weaknesses that will successfully be exploited by our common enemies. It is important that all of us vet all of our potential candidates.

Vetting however does not mean looking for facts or events that can be ripped out of their proper context and spun politically to damage a specific candidate only. It does not mean fixating on every possible blemish one candidate possesses, minor as it might be in the larger picture, to the attempted exclusion of any exculpatory information or extenuating circumstances. It does not mean an unrelenting attempt to tear one candidate down while other candidates are barely given any similar scrutiny by the same players so intent on vetting one of them. That isn't vetting, that is negative campaigning pure and simple, and there is a big difference between the two.

What FOX news gave unlimited coverage to Benghazi allegations, that quickly went well beyond the "vetting" of Hillary Clinton. It was a political agenda. It was a hit job. True "vetting" is not a partisan fixation on taking someone down, be that a Hillary Clinton, a Bernie Sanders, or a Joe Biden. And every camp that employs negative campaigning calls it "vetting". And usually the inverse is true also, those being vetted often claim to be victims of negative campaigning.

OK, so it isn't always as clear as day which is which from a single instance. But DU has a pretty sophisticated membership. I think we are up to telling the difference between the two if we really want to.

I suspect it will end up being to Biden's advantage that this "issue" came up now

Nothing that has come up so far can't be handled by Biden and his team. Or let's put it this way. If they can't handle it now when the first primary votes are still almost a year away, then they are in way bigger trouble than I ever would have imagined.

I have always liked Joe Biden, he was briefly my choice for President in 2008, after Clark didn't run but before it was clear he was going nowhere in the polls. But part of Joe's charm is that he has permeable personal boundaries. That makes him accessible and genuine. Biden spontaneously says what's on his mind and on occasion puts his foot in his mouth as a result. Biden is also extremely gregarious, which can lead him to spontaneously cross into another person's space, usually welcomed but maybe not always. Biden no doubt knows this about himself. On quick reflection he realizes when he has misspoken, and I bet he knows when he has perhaps not been as respectful of another person's physical space, in retrospect, as he should have been. My guess is that there were other times besides the two now being reported on when this or that woman would have preferred Biden kept a little bit more formal distance from them than he did. But, to quote an old Rolling Stones song "that ain't no hanging matter, that ain't no capital crime." With a few reassuring words of respect, and a hint of contrition and "regret" if he has ever not been sensitive enough to the potential of any woman's discomfort with some physical contact, Biden can even come out of this stronger.

I am sure most of the women who Joe Biden has physically reached out to have taken it positively, but a relative few have not. Now is the best time for Joe Biden to address that dynamic, which he has been doing quite well so far. This "issue" will fade with time as the daily news cycle invariably moves on. It will be very old news before the Iowa caucus. It will be ancient news by the time Biden wins the Democratic nomination, if in fact he does. And with it being ancient news by that time the Republicans will be denied any chance to use "Biden's inappropriate behavior" as a bombshell revelation in a sneak attack on him during a General Election campaign.

That is how I think this plays out from here, and if I am right I am glad this is happening now, not later. And if I'm wrong, and Biden really bungles how he deals with all of this, or if, in an improbable worst case, there is more to these isolated allegations than it now seems, well than I am even more glad that this is coming up now. Either way we need this far in the rear view mirror long before our nominee faces Trump in the General. And that means dealing with it now and putting it firmly to rest one way or another.
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