The second farce

So Democrats chickened out of calling witnesses and let the Republicans acquit Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.[1] Honestly, I don’t know how it gets any more pathetic than this. I mean, seriously, is a president inciting a coup[2] a threat[3] to the constitutional oligarchy[4] or isn’t it?

It was Democrats who decided, after all, not to call witnesses,[5] even if the mainstream journalism framing—Steve Almond is typical[6]—generally blames Republicans for Donald Trump’s acquittal.

Such framing misses Democrats’ responsibility for presenting the strongest possible case against Trump. In electing not to call witnesses, even after they had secured a vote to do so,[7] they abdicated that responsibility. When you have presented your strongest possible case, then and only then does it become the jury’s, in this case, the Senate’s, responsibility to reach an appropriate verdict. Yes, that conclusion might have been foregone.[8] And yes, you might want to move on.[9]

But either this constitutional oligarchy, so often inaccurately styled as a “democracy,”[10] is worth defending[11] or it isn’t.

Either way, the Democrats simply aren’t serious. If Trump’s campaign to overturn the election,[12] culminating in the attempted coup,[13] was indeed a threat[14] and the constitutional oligarchy[15] is indeed “precious” and worth defending, then Democrats have been irresponsible in failing to do their utmost to hold him accountable and have further exacerbated the problem of presidential immunity.[16]

If Trump’s campaign[17] did not pose such a threat, then Democrats were just playing politics when they impeached him this time, pretty much like they were with the first impeachment, which I called “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[18] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden.[19][20] It’s either that the Democrats are serious or that they aren’t, and what we see now all too clearly is that they simply aren’t.

And both parties have other priorities besides the defense of what they keep calling a “democracy,” but is in fact a constitutional oligarchy.[21] Perhaps because, really, as a constitutional oligarchy, the system is not in fact under threat.

  1. [1]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992; Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/
  3. [3]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “What’s at Stake in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial,” New Yorker, February 7, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/15/whats-at-stake-in-trumps-second-impeachment-trial
  4. [4]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  5. [5]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992; Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today
  6. [6]Steve Almond, “The GOP’s Final Act In A Long Public Surrender,” WBUR, February 13, 2021, https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2021/02/13/donald-trump-impeachment-insurrection-gop-mcconnell-acquittal-steve-almond
  7. [7]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992; Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today
  8. [8]Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html; Daniel Bush, “The post-Trump identity crisis that’s fracturing the GOP,” Public Broadcasting System, February 5, 2021, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/the-post-trump-identity-crisis-thats-fracturing-the-gop; Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “Senate GOP gripped by conviction vote intrigue,” Politico, February 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/12/republicans-weighting-conviction-trump-impeachment-468862
  9. [9]Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today
  10. [10]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  11. [11]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “What’s at Stake in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial,” New Yorker, February 7, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/15/whats-at-stake-in-trumps-second-impeachment-trial
  12. [12]David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Underestimating the gravity of the situation, as Donald Trump faces a White House exit,” Not Housebroken, January 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/21/underestimating-the-gravity-of-the-situation-as-donald-trump-faces-a-white-house-exit/
  14. [14]David Benfell, “The danger that remains,” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/07/the-danger-that-remains/
  15. [15]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “The problem of presidential immunity,” Not Housebroken, January 24, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/01/the-problem-of-presidential-immunity/
  17. [17]David Benfell, “When it’s over but it isn’t,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/11/27/when-its-over-but-it-isnt/; David Benfell, “Underestimating the gravity of the situation, as Donald Trump faces a White House exit,” Not Housebroken, January 14, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/21/underestimating-the-gravity-of-the-situation-as-donald-trump-faces-a-white-house-exit/
  18. [18]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; see also Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  19. [19]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  20. [20]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  21. [21]David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/22/a-constitutional-oligarchy-deconstructing-federalist-no-10/

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