In June 1972 a group of dirty-tricksters connected to the Nixon White House broke into the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel and attempted to plant telephone bugs, so they could spy on the Democrats in advance of the November election when Nixon was going to go head to head with George McGovern.
The vital question always was, what did President Richard Nixon know about this minor crime and when did he know it?
In the spring and summer of 2016 high officials in the CIA and FBI under the Obama administration decided to spy on the campaign of Donald Trump as he was getting ready to go head to head with Hillary Clinton in the November election.
So now, 44 years later the vital question is, what did President Barack Obama know about this when did he know it?
Both Nixon and Obama had their reasons for wanting to spy on the opposition. Both would probably, if pressed, resort to that last resort of scoundrels: national security. But a bedrock principle is that in a democracy we don’t weaponize elections. Societies that try to criminalize political opposition are already partially down the road to tyranny, just ask the people of the ancient Roman Republic, the protagonists of the French Revolution, or modern examples like Venezuela or the Russian Federation.
Democrats like to spend their waking and dreaming hours ruminating upon their great desire to impeach President Trump for various and sundry high crimes and misdemeanors—among them eating two scoops of ice cream at a White House reception when everyone else was served one. Republicans who get their own electoral fever dreams from the malarial swamps the Orange One has vowed to drain, are now starting to hope that maybe 18 months after he left office they can impeach Obama.
Nothing in the constitution says you can’t impeach a former president, just like there was nothing that said that the heroes of the French Revolution couldn’t toss deceased members of the French royal family into the streets to show that they were now a true democracy. Obviously, you can’t throw a man out of office when he’s already out—but you can soil his reputation.
To be fair, the Republicans never did have a chance to impeach the former president for illegally employing the IRS to target conservative non-profits, or for things such as using the Espionage Act to hound more whistleblowers and reporters than any other president in history, as a former ACLU president, Nadine Strossen commented this week. Republicans who make the point that Obama skated on offenses that any other president would have been held accountable for have a pretty good case.
But it’s not enough to employ “what about?” when you are talking about Trump. You need to deploy enough heavy artillery that the case for impeaching Obama more than balances that of impeaching Trump. You must bring to bear so much evidence that both sides scratch their heads, rub their chins and exclaim: “Yikes! Maybe we better all give up on this impeachment thing and go back to trying to win the hearts and minds of the voters on, well, policy matters.”
It would be the political equivalent of mutual assured destruction.
Roseanne Barr: terminally stupid
John Wayne once said, “Life is hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid.”
Some people are just too stupid to function in society. That’s why they invented the Darwin Award, which, if you’ve never heard of it, is given to a person (usually posthumously) for advancing evolution by getting killed before he can spread his genetic material.
It’s too late for Roseanne Barr and her eponymous TV show, but don’t think for a moment that by destroying the reboot of her successful comedy series Barr didn’t cause a sigh of relief among the Hollywood establishment, even one might say, in the corporate bowels of ABC, where they would much rather be politically correct than make a lot of bucks off a demographic that Hillary Clinton once dismissed as the “Basket of Deplorables.”
Because it was getting darned embarrassing that the Trump-loving TV audience was earning this much respect from an entertainment industry that would much prefer to truss that audience en masse, stuff an apple in its collective mouth and roast them over an open vent of Mount Kīlauea.
It’s too convenient by half. It’s almost as if someone put something in Barr’s coffee and whispered in her ear that because her series was so successful she could get away with saying ANYTHING and her show would keep on rolling. Well, that works for Donald Trump—at least for the moment—but he truly is unique and so far, no one who has tried to imitate his crassness has profited by it.
It’s fairly obvious from how swiftly the blow cancelling the show descended that ABC was waiting with its finger on the trigger for Barr to make the mistake they were pretty sure she would make eventually. After all, just like the president, she stays up all night making random tweets. It was inevitable that such stream of consciousness mental droolings would lead to disaster: a tweet that was so racist that even the bundle of money she was making for ABC couldn’t save her.
It’s sad for the state of television that a show that at least fairly portrays about half of the country has been cancelled because its star is a bigoted buffoon. But you can bet that the show business establishment won’t be shedding any tears.