The End is Near

Alan Zendell, December 11, 2018

As 2018 lurches to a close and the news media binge over indictments and irrational tweets, each with its own spin added, it’s important to not be swept up in their hysteria. Try to screen out all the nonsense and flack, and concentrate on what’s real.

One real thing we know is that the new Congress will be sworn in on January 3rd. That’s still 23 days off, but the current Congress will be in recess for most of that time. Trump and the Democrats will spar over the border wall and keeping the government open, Congress may send the President a binding resolution rebuking the Saudi Crown Prince, and Robert Mueller will continue to reveal information about his investigation, but no significant business will be concluded before the year-end recess.

In the meantime, the media, in their continual competition for ratings, will spin and hype every bit of news, real or fake. Talking heads will pontificate about Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Russia, trade wars, climate change, the economy, and whether Trump will be impeached. Remember, all those “experts” have been wrong about almost everything and they’re all paid for their input, so they’ll keeping talking even if they have nothing to say. Ignore all of them and stay focused on what’s most important to you.

Trump will probably reach some token agreement with China so both countries can save face, but don’t expect it to affect your life significantly. He probably will not reach an accord with Russia, but that won’t directly affect you either unless you have family in Ukraine. The truth is, no one has any idea what will happen in 2019. Financial markets will struggle to attain stability but if things don’t go well with trade, corporate earnings, and (un)employment, they may have to drop first.

The most entertaining show will be put on by the Democrats, who will struggle mightily not to squander their first Congressional majority since 2010. They’ll squabble and try to put on a good face so they can make the case that they can be trusted to govern in 2020. Progressives will push some form of universal health care, but it won’t come to a serious vote in this Congress as long as Conservatives control the Senate and the White House.

What will likely happen is that the Democrats will fight among themselves over how to deal with the president. Jerry Nadler (Judiciary) and Adam Schiff (Intelligence) will keep their committees busy drafting subpoenas. Expect sparks to fly and the Twitter wires to smoke as the Democrats launch an all-out effort to see Trump’s tax filings and financial records, including every deal he’s ever attempted to close with Russian operatives.

They’ll be salivating when they’re sworn in on January 3rd, but it’s not entirely clear what they expect to accomplish. Do they really intend to try to impeach Trump? The cooler Democratic heads know that’s not a wise course. If there’s not indisputable evidence of “Crimes and  Misdemeanors” against the people, impeachment won’t pass muster in Mitch McConnell’s Senate. And if there is, the Republicans themselves will act, just as they did in 1974.

No doubt, millions of people would love to watch Trump crash and burn. It would feel as good as watching Rocky Balboa knock out Apollo Creed (the first time.) I’m not immune to vengeful lust, and if anyone deserves to be disgraced and humiliated, Donald Trump does. But – would impeaching him be good for the country?

I can’t escape the irony that James Comey, who may be more responsible for our current debacle than anyone else, got it right the other day. The country needs to be rid of Trump and all the hate and divisiveness he fostered and enabled, but the killing blow should be delivered at the ballot box in resounding numbers. We can’t vicariously defer to a public executioner. We have to do it ourselves one vote at a time.

My guess is that the Democrats’ strategy will be to harass Trump during every day of the next Congress. Make him fume and rage and let him hang himself with ever more unhinged behavior. Let him disintegrate in plain sight the way Nixon did, and hope cooler heads (Alexander Haig, where are you when we need you?) can hold everything together until the next election.

As Trump makes himself irrelevant and Republicans who are up for re-election in 2020 see the handwriting on the wall, enough of them may realize that their futures depend on demonstrating that they’re actually capable of governing to break the Congressional gridlock and accomplish something useful.

Sound like a fantasy? Maybe, but it’s my fantasy, and I won’t give it up without a fight.

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Downward Spiral

Alan Zendell, December 10, 2018

I was as wrong as everyone else who predicted Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win in 2016. I could rationalize being wrong by reasoning that the combination of the incompetence of Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisers and a couple of unfortunate decisions by James Comey made it more of a Clinton forfeit than a Trump victory, but I won’t.

What I will do is apply that logic to why, after swearing off making predictions, I now feel confident in my view of the future. This isn’t about inferring logical conclusions or predicting specific events as much as it’s trusting my gut instincts, which usually serve me well. I realize now that in 2016, the prospect of Donald Trump as president was so horrifying, I simplify forced myself to believe it couldn’t happen.

Now that we’re here, there’s no point in denying reality. To help me work through this, I turned to Dante Alighieri, whose vision of Hell and Purgatory looks startlingly appropriate to today’s actuality. We haven’t spiraled into Hell yet, but every so often I feel like I’m about to burn up – or is that global warming I feel?

Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell confirm how far we’ve sunk, and how devastating the consequences of not fixing this mess will be. We passed through Limbo between the time of Trump’s election and the day he took office. Dante’s Limbo was a place where those who had never known grace resided. That sounds like a fine metaphor for Trumplandia, a place of no morality where hypocrisy and lies replace values and integrity.

Lust, Gluttony, and Greed seem fitting abodes for the Donald. Whether it’s his perverted sexuality or his limitless quest for wealth and power, we must avoid going there with him. Trump could only be defeated there if we matched his own abhorrent nature, and it’s hard to see how becoming him would solve anything.

Anger is a place Trump knows well, along with its corollary, Hate; he’s spent the last three years dragging the country there with him. I’m angry as hell about that, but that’s just playing into his hands. As Martin Luther King, Jr said, darkness cannot drive out darkness, hate cannot drive out hate – only love can do that. Does that mean we should love Trump? No, but it does mean the first step in defeating him is not letting anger and hate blind our senses.

The final three Circles of Hell, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery, define the Donald Trump we know today. He fights like a cornered rat, he has no respect for the truth, and there appear to be no levels to which he won’t stoop to have things his way. He has led the country through all nine circles, and it’s up to us whether we want to be delivered into the Center of Hell.

That’s the basis of my newfound optimism. I must believe that decent people will do whatever is necessary to end this nightmare. If we don’t, we’re doomed as a nation. We might stumble on through a few more generations, but the light in the darkness that America represents for the world cannot survive much more of Trumpism.

Because I believe that, I’ve begun listening to what my gut tells me. More and more, the world of Trump has been feeling like the final months of the Nixon administration. The Nixon White House entered a downward spiral with the Saturday Night Massacre of October 1973, when the president attempted to kill Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox’s investigation into the Watergate cover-up.

Nixon raged against his accusers and became ever more isolated. The nightmare dragged on for ten months, as the entire nation sensed his hold on power and his sanity slipping away. I have that feeling now. I look at other Republican lawmakers, and I see dozens of rats on the bridge of a sinking ship, calculating the optimum moment to jump off. Like Nixon and Watergate, the process may seem to go on interminably, but it will end the same way.

What happened then was eerily similar to what’s happening now. A trickle of damaging information turned into a cascade, as confederates turned on each other. When it threatened to become a tsunami, the House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend impeaching the president in July, 1974. In August, the nation saw clear evidence that Nixon had obstructed justice when he tried to direct the FBI’s investigation away from the White House, and that was the final straw.

Trump may not resign and he may not be impeached. But his downward spiral will end in defeat and repudiation. It has to. My grandchildren deserve to grow up in the America they were born into.

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Trump 2020?

Alan Zendell, December 7, 2018

With the midterm elections behind us, the question on most politicians’ minds is whether Donald Trump is likely to be re-elected in 2020. It’s clear that he has a loyal base of support that represents about one third of the electorate. He won in 2016 because rust-belt blue collar workers and suburban women joined that base. There was also broad disaffection with Hillary Clinton and an “I don’t like either one of them” mentality which caused many voters to abstain.

Trump proved adept at stirring up anger and confusion, easily disrupting whatever passed for a strategy among Democrats. His lack of regard for political norms, his willingness to make outrageous comments from which he never backed down, and his disregard of the truth served him well when appealing to voters who felt left behind or disenfranchised. Get people angry enough and they’ll overturn the establishment, even if they don’t know what will replace it.

As 2019 approaches, we have nearly two years of Trump’s performance to evaluate. He lurched and stumbled through a world of laws and constitutional requirements, and proved to be either unaware or totally disdainful of both.

His attempts to overhaul immigration on his own were slapped down by the courts. His attacks on Obamacare failed, and so far have resulted only in increasing health insurance costs across the country. He has alienated most world leaders and dealt a serious blow to respect and confidence in America around the world. His base may turn a blind eye to those things, but what about everyone else?

For two years I’ve tried to screen out Trump lovers and Trump haters and focus on what people who voted for him despite not liking him had to say. In 2017, whenever Trump lied, pandered to racist elements, or displayed his lack of moral center I heard, “Yes, but…” from most of them.

The but was his one singular achievement, which amounted to jumping aboard the Republican tax cut bandwagon. Stock prices soared on speculation, and at least for one year, there was a little more money in middle-class pockets and a lot more money in already wealthy pockets, though economists forecast a trillion dollar deficit next year as a result. Unemployment continued  downward  to twenty-year lows, but wages remained stagnant. The sense that our economy was strong kept Trump afloat, but will that continue?

His tendency to lie and exaggerate his achievements had to eventually wear thin, and now it’s apparently becoming clear to many who voted from him in 2016 that there’s little or no substance to his brags; more importantly, he’s dangerous. Diplomacy cannot succeed when the rest of the world doesn’t believe anything our president says, and without diplomacy and trust-based negotiation, the result can only be worsening differences and an increased risk of war.

We’ve seen no substantive change from either North Korea or Iran, our relationship with Russia deteriorates weekly, and there is no evidence that Trump’s brash trade policies have done more good than harm. Voters have been paying attention, and they spoke quite eloquently during the midterm elections. Trump’s base has shrunk to its core. He’s lost the confidence of most of the voters who held their noses in 2016 and decided to take a chance on him.

His manner and his lack of respect for truth made him an unreliable international partner, leaving military strength as his only leverage in negotiations with other countries. And the one thing that bulwarked Trump’s support during 2017 turned sour in 2018, as speculative rises in market indices sputtered and floundered. As I write this, the volatile world markets are in the midst of their fourth major downturn in the last month, and the major market indices are lower than they were in January.

President Clinton inherited the lower deficits that resulted from Bush-41’s tax increases. Bush-43 inherited a balanced federal budget but his military adventurism wasted it, and Obama inherited an economy teetering on total collapse. Trump inherited the strong stable recovery that resulted from Obama’s policies, but the next two years are on him.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept that a storm is coming. The sun is shining, the air is calm, and despite forecasts and radar maps, until we see the lightning, hear the thunder, and smell the ozone, we cling to our perception that it’s a beautiful day. The economy is like that, too.

With Democrats in control of the House, Trump will not have a free ride next year, and that’s without considering what the continuing investigations of him may yield. All the elements are in place for Donald Trump to suffer a crushing defeat in 2020, but of course that will largely depend on whether the Democrats find a viable candidate and don’t manage to shoot themselves in both feet as they did in 2016.

Can Trump be defeated? Damn right he can, but the Democrats are also quite capable of squandering the opportunity. If they do, imagine the harm Trump can do with six more years.

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Donald and Vladimir

November 30, 2018

Today, speaking for President Donald Trump, Sarah Sanders said, “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax … probably undermine[s] our relationship with Russia.” After all the outrageous things she’s said on his behalf, that’s a pretty amazing statement. I can’t even characterize it. It’s obviously incorrect, a deliberate distortion of reality. On the other hand I wouldn’t classify it as something as routine as a Trump lie.

Like many people, I’ve paid close attention to the intricacies and nuances of Trump’s behavior, and I wonder if something more sinister and scary is going on. I fear Trump may be suffering from a case of circular Doublethink. I know it sounds funny, but I’m serious. “Doublethink” means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously and accepting both as true (http://www.orwelltoday.com/doublethink.shtml).

Doublethink isn’t just a literary device invented by George Orwell. It’s an insidious form of delusional thinking. When delusions lead directly back to a starting point in an alternate reality that is a direct contradiction of everyone else’s perception of reality, and the sufferer cannot distinguish the difference, we have circular Doublethink. If the sufferer is the president, we have a serious problem.

The rest of us, even among Trump’s base can clearly see the reasons our relationship with Russia is on the rocks. There are three threads that we know about. First, the Russians attempted to hack our election in 2016 and use social media to intensify anger and division among Americans. Every intelligence gathering agency in our government agrees and describes the situation as a critical threat to our security.

A second thread is the well-documented attempts made by the President to extend his real estate empire to Moscow. For three decades, Trump attempted make a deal with Putin and other Russian oligarchs to build a trademark hotel there. According to today’s news, they intended to offer a gift of a $50 million dollar penthouse to the big man himself to sweeten the deal. What makes this thread so interesting is that former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen revealed in court that previous statements claiming those efforts ended in 2014 or 2015 were lies. Trump was still attempting to close a deal with Putin in June 2016, smack in the middle of the primary election season.

The third thread is the attempt by members of Trump’s team to get Russian assistance in hacking the Clinton campaign and their meeting with Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. It is this thread that resulted in  bipartisan support for the Mueller Investigation into Russian interference in our election and any possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s team.

To add another critical piece to this picture (which by no means completes it) back in 2014 when Russia engineered the Annexation of Crimea away from Ukraine, Donald Trump accused President Obama of weakening us by allowing Putin to get away without consequences. Trump promised repeatedly in 2016 that he would never let Putin into the Ukraine. Yet, in 2017, when the latter decided to grab another piece of eastern Ukraine and cut Kiev off from two critical ports on the Sea of Azov, Trump did nothing. And he has taken no action in response to Russia’s naval engagement with Ukraine forces last week, except to cancel a meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Trump now wants Americans to believe that the Mueller probe is hurting our relationship with Russia. He wants us to forget that Russia has been a very bad actor on the international stage during Putin’s tenure as President, and that it was in fact Russia’s aggressive, illegal actions that resulted in Congressional approval of the Special Counsel’s charter.

So I have to ask, is Sarah Sanders’ statement a lie or is it something Trump actually believes? We’re used to his lies and distortions, his alternate facts. But what if this is something different? What if Trump is incapable of recognizing the difference between blaming Mueller and blaming Russia’s actions?

If your neighbor kills someone and he’s convicted of murder and sent to prison, is the prosecutor or the court responsible for leaving his family fatherless? Or is your neighbor responsible? If Putin and Russia are guilty as charged, is it Mueller’s fault that relations with Russia are at a post-Cold War low? I think I can actually see how that works out in Trumpthink. But the logic is so twisted and tortured, it can’t possibly be the product of a sound mind.

So tough guy Trump, who was going to confront our enemies wherever he met them has canceled his summit with Putin, while Putin high fives with the Saudi Crown Prince. It looks to me like what always happens when a puffed-up bully meets a real strongman. I can’t wait until Trump’s meeting with Xi.

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A Trump Thanksgiving

Alan Zendell, November 22, 2018

I’ve always considered Thanksgiving untouchable. For years it’s been the only American holiday that remained free of self-righteous religious preaching and self-important politicians, who were thankfully smart enough to realize that what we were most thankful for was not having to see or hear them for at least one day. Most of us would rather enjoy our families and friends, steeped in the warmth of our own personal spirituality.

Of course, it was different this year. Our self-loving president filled the airwaves with a military teleconference with some troops stationed in Afghanistan and Kuwait. It’s not uncommon for presidents to thank the military stationed overseas for their service on Thanksgiving. It’s always a staged, artificial event, because…well…presidents feel it’s something they’re required to do. Most don’t do ritual all that well, but we forgive their awkwardness because, after all, we really are thankful to the people we have deployed all over the world to protect us.

As usual, however, Trump couldn’t leave it at that. Our president, who pulled every string he had and paid off everyone he could to avoid serving in the military himself is horribly miscast as Commander in Chief. Amidst all his lies, exaggerations, and hate-mongering, he is at his most disingenuous when he is lauding the military. He has no business being in the same room as the generals who invest their lives in protecting us.

Last week, he demonstrated once again how shallow his respect for our military really is. Like every banana republic dictator who ever lived, he cares nothing for genuine heroism and patriotism. All that matters to Donald Trump is demonstrated loyalty to him, as we saw when he attacked the Navy Seal Admiral who oversaw the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Why? Because retired Adm. William McRaven, who served under Presidents Bush-43 and Obama stood up for the constitution, claiming that the president’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in his lifetime.

A mere few days later, Trump had to read from a prepared text to thank our troops, but as expected, he quickly veered off script to make the Thanksgiving call about himself. He told his captive audience on the other end of the phone line how he has single-handedly created the strongest economy ever seen anywhere in the world. (He omitted that as a result of his trade policies and tariffs, the stock markets ended in negative territory for the year, yesterday, despite the massive tax cut that enabled large corporations to reap windfall profits.)

He also whined about the ways the courts are a constant roadblock for him. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was cited as a particular thorn in his side. Those damn Obama judges have apparently been obstructing Trump’s efforts at imperial rule. (He also omitted that his intemperate remarks about the courts sparked a never-before heard rebuke from the conservative Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.)

Instead of giving those soldiers he loves so much a needed day off from the horrors of their Afghanistan tours, and for one day letting their families and those who are truly grateful to them shower them with praise, Trump treated them to an attack on a co-equal branch of our government, one sworn to uphold the constitution our troops are there to defend. He made himself and his huge ego the star of the show. And he somehow equated the thousands of desperate migrants who left poverty and death behind in Honduras and Guatemala with the ISIS and Taliban terrorists our military is dealing with. How utterly offensive is that – but our president has no clue.

I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with three generations of family, the way it’s supposed to be spent. I’m going to ignore Donald Trump for the rest of the day (now that I’ve gotten this off my chest.) We’re going to eat too much and be thankful to be together. The only thing allowed on television screens for the rest of the day is football, and for one day we’ll act as if all is well in the world and in our country.

There will be plenty of time tomorrow to get back to the task of preventing Donald Trump from destroying it all.

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Jungle Values

Alan Zendell, November 20, 2018

If you long since gave up being shocked by anything Donald Trump does, you shouldn’t be surprised at his complete indifference to the crimes of the Saudi Crown Prince. “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, we’ll probably never know for sure,” was Trump’s reaction to the CIA’s near certainty that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Instanbul last month.

If that triggers a feeling of déjà vu, it’s because it was the same refrain he used when the CIA told him Russia definitely hacked our 2016 election at the direction of Vladimir Putin. It was the same thing he said when Roy Moore, his favored candidate in Alabama’s special Senate election was credibly accused of assaulting teen-age girls, and when recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was similarly accused in sworn testimony by a California University Professor. And when several of his cabinet officers were accused of enriching themselves at the public trough, Trump was equally deaf and blind to reality.

There are two different themes at work here, the result being an unfortunate confluence of values or lack of them. One is the mantra he learned at the knee of mob lawyer and Joesph McCarthy devotee Roy Cohn: whenever you’re accused, deny, deny, deny. Whenever Trump is inconvenienced by reality, that’s what he does, secure in the knowledge that his base will agree, regardless of the evidence.

The second is the convergence of two of Trump’s campaign themes, America First and discarding political correctness. We convinced ourselves it was all bluster, but we were wrong. Trump meant every word of it. We saw it when he continually insulted our traditional allies in Europe and Canada, and when he refused to criticize the dictators who rule North Korea, The Philippines, Russia, and China.

Trump really believes America’s immediate self-interest comes ahead of everything else, and he feels no need to sugarcoat that. It’s not clear whether his tough approach to diplomacy has accomplished anything other than creating enormous turmoil in world economies and in our allies’ capitals. And it’s also not clear that what Trump perceives as America’s short-term interest is actually good for the country. There’s even less reason to believe that his view is in our long-term interest.

The latest evidence of this is the case of the Saudi Crown Prince. The media trumpets it as a conflict between traditional American values and Trump’s raw pragmatism. That’s naïve, and one thing Trump is right about is exposing that as BS. Our government has used other countries’ alleged human rights violations as excuses for actions that would otherwise have been seen as indefensible by most Americans.

I clearly recall President Lyndon Johnson justifying his expansion of the Vietnamese War as a defense of “the freedom loving people of South Vietnam.” We all knew that was crap, and Johnson might have done better using Trump’s approach, and simply declaring that the war in Vietnam was a war against Soviet and Chinese Communism. We still might have demonstrated against it, but at least he’d have been telling the truth, misguided as it may have been.

That’s basically what Trump did today. He declared that American policy doesn’t care how corrupt or criminal the Saudi Royal family is. As long as they consider Iran their mortal enemy, they are free to bomb civilians in Yemen, fund terrorism, and continue to stand in the way of Israel’s acceptance into the community of nations.

They can go on murdering their own citizens whenever it suits them, treat women like chattel, and live in obscene luxury while most of their country resides in squalor. The Saudis are not our friends, despite Trump describing them as outstanding allies, as opposed to Canada, Mexico, and the of the EU who he claims rip us off and expect us to pay for their defense with American tax dollars.

Trump applies the rule of the jungle to all situations. Human values always lose when they’re weighed against strategic benefits. Our friends are merely the enemies of our enemies. The thing is, maybe Trump is doing the country a service by looking at the world that way and dispensing with political correctness. In doing so, he’s clearly defining the political arena for 2020.

The 2018 election was a clear repudiation of the excesses of Trumpism. The 2020 election may well be a referendum on what kind of country we want to be.

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Nancy’s Choice

Alan Zendell, November 12, 2018

Now that the Democrats have won back the House, what are they going to do with their majority? The Party’s performance in recent decades isn’t encouraging.

Nancy Pelosi, if she becomes Speaker, must quickly determine the House’s course for the next two years. She has three basic approaches from which to choose. She can attempt to negotiate bipartisan legislation with Trump and the Senate, obstruct the president’s agenda, or go down the path of investigating Trump with an eye toward impeachment. Whichever she chooses there can be no waffling. Once she picks a strategy she’ll have no choice but to see it through.

Above all, she must never trust anything Trump says, publicly or privately, and not rise to the bait he throws out with his tweets and hate-mongering rallies. Chaos is his friend. He will lie and mislead as he always has, his primary goal being disrupting the opposition and convincing himself that he won. Nothing else matters to Trump. He’s a master at it, and he prosecutes every objective with ruthless obsession.

The question of whether to pursue bipartisan objectives is complex. On one hand, the new House will contain a number of eager Progressives looking to make a mark, and Pelosi herself needs to have legislative wins to provide momentum for 2020. She’d love to be able to take credit for ending Congressional deadlock, but she can’t get too carried away with fantasies.

Trump cares not at all about bipartisan solutions. He won’t take any position that angers his base, and he has carefully honed that third of the country’s electorate to despise Progressivism. He will never voluntarily back off on his appeals to racism and his attempts to keep immigrants out so America will remain dominated by white money. He’ll never compromise on any significant issue unless he is compelled to by the courts or he senses cracks in his own party.

The worst thing Pelosi can do is invest her majority in long, drawn out attempts to create legislation based on assurances from Trump. If she makes that mistake, it will be election season 2020 before she knows it and the Democrats will have no record to run on.

As to obstructing Trump’s agenda, Trump has and will blame Democrats for everything that doesn’t get passed, whether or not there’s any truth to support him. The 2018 election wave established that a significant majority of Americans are already wise to that tactic, so Pelosi really has little to lose. On the positive side, she received her majority because the key voters who were the difference in the 2016 election stated clearly that they don’t like the directions Trump is taking us.

Many voters, myself among them, saw this election as an opportunity to prevent Trump from doing any more damage to our American value system. That includes restoring the EPA’s role in protecting the environment, halting efforts to further dismantle the health care safety net, and standing firm against the erosion of women’s rights.

It also includes fighting against the continued destruction of our international relationships. Congress has a lot to say about trade and diplomacy, about borders and immigration and preserving America’s role as a safe haven for the oppressed. Specifically, the House can prevent the spectacle of thousands of troops patrolling our border with Mexico simply by taking positive action to refuse to fund it.  

Finally, Pelosi must determine what portion of her limited resources to divert to investigating the president. No doubt, it would be immensely gratifying to obtain access to his tax and financial records and show a pervasive pattern of conflict of interest with his foreign investments. Likewise to embarrass him over revelations of improper, possible illegal actions during his election campaign. More than half the country would love to dance on his political grave the way he did last week when Republicans who distanced themselves from him were defeated. It would feel great for a while, but what would the endgame be?

If the objective is to cow the president, Pelosi should forget it. Donald Trump is absolutely shameless. He will never back down unless he’s defeated by cohesive bipartisan disapproval or a sharp rebuke from the courts. And if her objective is impeachment, she should seriously rethink that.

The Mitch McConnell, Republican dominated Senate would only convict the president if the Mueller investigation found evidence of serious criminal behavior and clear cooperation with foreign governments during the election campaign. It took a delegation of senior Republicans led by Barry Goldwater to convince Richard Nixon that he could not remain in office. And if his party begins to turn on him? Whenever Trump senses threat he turns into a feral animal. I can’t imagine that the resulting spectacle would be good for the country.

I wish the new Speaker well. Her decisions may determine our political future for decades.

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