In their frenzy to bring down this president, Andrew J. Bacevich sees centrist elites rushing to bury any recollection of the catastrophes that paved the way to his election.
By Andrew J. Bacevich
There is blood in the water and frenzied sharks are closing in for the kill. Or so they think.
From the time of Donald Trump’s election, American elites have hungered for this moment. At long last, they have the 45th president of the United States cornered. In typically ham-handed fashion, Trump has given his adversaries the very means to destroy him politically. They will not waste the opportunity. Impeachment now — finally, some will say — qualifies as a virtual certainty.
No doubt many surprises lie ahead. Yet the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives have passed the point of no return. The time for prudential judgments — the Republican-controlled Senate will never convict, so why bother? — is gone for good. To back down now would expose the president’s pursuers as spineless cowards. The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC would not soon forgive such craven behavior.
So, as President Woodrow Wilson, speaking in 1919 put it, “The stage is set, the destiny disclosed. It has come about by no plan of our conceiving, but by the hand of God.” Of course, the issue back then was a notably weighty one: whether to ratify the Versailles Treaty. That it now concerns a “Mafia-like shakedown” orchestrated by one of Wilson’s successors tells us something about the trajectory of American politics over the course of the last century and it has not been a story of ascent.
The effort to boot the president from office is certain to yield a memorable spectacle. The rancor and contempt that have clogged American politics like a backed-up sewer since the day of Trump’s election will now find release. Watergate will pale by comparison. The uproar triggered by Bill Clinton’s “sexual relations” will be nothing by comparison. A de facto collaboration between Trump, those who despise him, and those who despise his critics all but guarantees that this story will dominate the news, undoubtedly for months to come.
As this process unspools, what politicians like to call “the people’s business” will go essentially unattended. So while Congress considers whether or not to remove Trump from office, gun-control legislation will languish, the deterioration of the nation’s infrastructure will proceed apace, needed healthcare reforms will be tabled, the military-industrial complex will waste yet more billions, and the national debt, already at $22 trillion — larger, that is, than the entire economy — will continue to surge. The looming threat posed by climate change, much talked about of late, will proceed all but unchecked. For those of us preoccupied with America’s role in the world, the obsolete assumptions and habits undergirding what’s still called “national security” will continue to evade examination. Our endless wars will remain endless and pointless.
By way of compensation, we might wonder what benefits impeachment is likely to yield. Answering that question requires examining four scenarios that describe the range of possibilities awaiting the nation.
The first and most to be desired (but least likely) is that Trump will tire of being a public piñata and just quit. With the thrill of flying in Air Force One having worn off, being president can’t be as much fun these days. Why put up with further grief? How much more entertaining for Trump to retire to the political sidelines where he can tweet up a storm and indulge his penchant for name-calling. And think of the “deals” an ex-president could make in countries like Israel, North Korea, Poland, and Saudi Arabia on which he’s bestowed favors. Cha-ching! As of yet, however, the president shows no signs of taking the easy (and lucrative) way out.
The second possible outcome sounds almost as good but is no less implausible: a sufficient number of Republican senators rediscover their moral compass and “do the right thing,” joining with Democrats to create the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump and send him packing. In the Washington of that classic 20th-century film director Frank Capra, with Jimmy Stewart holding forth on the Senate floor and a moist-eyed Jean Arthur cheering him on from the gallery, this might have happened. In the real Washington of “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, think again.
The third somewhat seamier outcome might seem a tad more likely. It postulates that McConnell and various GOP senators facing reelection in 2020 or 2022 will calculate that turning on Trump just might offer the best way of saving their own skins. The president’s loyalty to just about anyone, wives included, has always been highly contingent, the people streaming out of his administration routinely making the point. So why should senatorial loyalty to the president be any different? At the moment, however, indications that Trump loyalists out in the hinterlands will reward such turncoats are just about nonexistent. Unless that base were to flip, don’t expect Republican senators to do anything but flop.
That leaves outcome No. 4, easily the most probable: while the House will impeach, the Senate will decline to convict. Trump will therefore stay right where he is, with the matter of his fitness for office effectively deferred to the November 2020 elections. Except as a source of sadomasochistic diversion, the entire agonizing experience will, therefore, prove to be a colossal waste of time and blather.
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Furthermore, Donald Trump might well emerge from this national ordeal with his reelection chances enhanced. Such a prospect is belatedly insinuating itself into public discourse. For that reason, certain anti-Trump pundits are already showing signs of going wobbly, suggesting, for instance, that censure rather than outright impeachment might suffice as punishment for the president’s various offenses. Yet censuring Trump while allowing him to stay in office would be the equivalent of letting Harvey Weinstein off with a good tongue-lashing so that he can get back to making movies. Censure is for wimps.
Besides, as Trump campaigns for a second term, he would almost surely wear censure like a badge of honor. Keep in mind that Congress’s approval ratings are considerably worse than his. To more than a few members of the public, a black mark awarded by Congress might look like a gold star.
Restoration Not Removal
So if Trump finds himself backed into a corner, Democrats aren’t necessarily in a more favorable position. And that ain’t the half of it. Let me suggest that, while Trump is being pursued, it’s you, my fellow Americans, who are really being played. The unspoken purpose of impeachment is not removal, but restoration. The overarching aim is not to replace Trump with Mike Pence — the equivalent of exchanging Groucho for Harpo. No, the object of the exercise is to return power to those who created the conditions that enabled Trump to win the White House in the first place.
Just recently, for instance, Hillary Clinton declared Trump to be an “illegitimate president.” Implicit in her charge is the conviction — no doubt sincere — that people like Donald Trump are not supposed to be president. People like Hillary Clinton — people possessing credentials like hers and sharing her values — should be the chosen ones. Here we glimpse the true meaning of legitimacy in this context. Whatever the vote in the Electoral College, Trump doesn’t deserve to be president and never did.
For many of the main participants in this melodrama, the actual but unstated purpose of impeachment is to correct this great wrong and thereby restore history to its anointed path.
In a recent column in The Guardian, Professor Samuel Moyn makes the essential point: Removing from office a vulgar, dishonest and utterly incompetent president comes nowhere close to capturing what’s going on here. To the elites most intent on ousting Trump, far more important than anything he may say or do is what he signifies. He is a walking, talking repudiation of everything they believe and, by extension, of a future they had come to see as foreordained.
Moyn styles these anti-Trump elites as “centrists,” members of the post-Cold War political mainstream that allowed ample room for nominally conservative Bushes and nominally liberal Clintons, while leaving just enough space for Barack Obama’s promise of hope-and-(not-too-much) change.
These centrists share a common worldview. They believe in the universality of freedom as defined and practiced within the United States. They believe in corporate capitalism operating on a planetary scale. They believe in American primacy, with the United States presiding over a global order as the sole superpower. They believe in “American global leadership,” which they define as primarily a military enterprise. And perhaps most of all, while collecting degrees from Georgetown, Harvard, Oxford, Wellesley, the University of Chicago, and Yale, they came to believe in a so-called meritocracy as the preferred mechanism for allocating wealth, power and privilege. All of these together comprise the sacred scripture of contemporary American political elites. And if Donald Trump’s antagonists have their way, his removal will restore that sacred scripture to its proper place as the basis of policy.
“For all their appeals to enduring moral values,” Moyn writes, “the centrists are deploying a transparent strategy to return to power.” Destruction of the Trump presidency is a necessary precondition for achieving that goal. “Centrists simply want to return to the status quo interrupted by Trump, their reputations laundered by their courageous opposition to his mercurial reign, and their policies restored to credibility.” Precisely.
High Crimes and Misdemeanors
For such a scheme to succeed, however, laundering reputations alone will not suffice. Equally important will be to bury any recollection of the catastrophes that paved the way for an über-qualified centrist to lose to an indisputably unqualified and unprincipled political novice in 2016.
Holding promised security assistance hostage unless a foreign leader agrees to do you political favors is obviously and indisputably wrong. Trump’s antics regarding Ukraine may even meet some definition of criminal. Still, how does such misconduct compare to the calamities engineered by the “centrists” who preceded him? Consider, in particular, the George W. Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 (along with the spin-off wars that followed). Consider, too, the reckless economic policies that produced the Great Recession of 2007-2008. As measured by the harm inflicted on the American people (and others), the offenses for which Trump is being impeached qualify as mere misdemeanors.
Honest people may differ on whether to attribute the Iraq War to outright lies or monumental hubris. When it comes to tallying up the consequences, however, the intentions of those who sold the war don’t particularly matter. The results include thousands of Americans killed; tens of thousands wounded, many grievously, or left to struggle with the effects of PTSD; hundreds of thousands of non-Americans killed or injured; millions displaced; trillions of dollars expended; radical groups like ISIS empowered (and in its case even formed inside a U.S. prison in Iraq); and the Persian Gulf region plunged into turmoil from which it has yet to recover. How do Trump’s crimes stack up against these?
The Great Recession stemmed directly from economic policies implemented during the administration of President Bill Clinton and continued by his successor. Deregulating the banking sector was projected to produce a bonanza in which all would share. Yet, as a direct result of the ensuing chicanery, nearly 9 million Americans lost their jobs, while overall unemployment shot up to 10 percent. Roughly 4 million Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. The stock market cratered and millions saw their life savings evaporate. Again, the question must be asked: How do these results compare to Trump’s dubious dealings with Ukraine?
Trump’s critics speak with one voice in demanding accountability. Yet virtually no one has been held accountable for the pain, suffering, and loss inflicted by the architects of the Iraq War and the Great Recession. Why is that? As another presidential election approaches, the question not only goes unanswered, but unasked.
To win reelection, Trump, a corrupt con man (who jumped ship on his own bankrupt casinos, money in hand, leaving others holding the bag) will cheat and lie. Yet, in the politics of the last half-century, these do not qualify as novelties. (Indeed, apart from being the son of a sitting U.S. vice president, what made Hunter Biden worth $50Gs per month to a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch? I’m curious.) That the president and his associates are engaging in a cover-up is doubtless the case. Yet another cover-up proceeds in broad daylight on a vastly larger scale. “Trump’s shambolic presidency somehow seems less unsavory,” Moyn writes, when considering the fact that his critics refuse “to admit how massively his election signified the failure of their policies, from endless war to economic inequality.” Just so.
What are the real crimes? Who are the real criminals? No matter what happens in the coming months, don’t expect the Trump impeachment proceedings to come within a country mile of addressing such questions.
Andrew Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is president and co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new book, “The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory,” will be published in January.
This article is from TomDispatch.com.
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Very good article. This is the state of the nation. The country is the victim of decades of disinformation. What a sad state of affairs we are in.
Thank you. It seems it would be best, as Washington also preferred, to get rid of our vicious, counterproductive political duopoly and that related money. Some thoughts on possible alternatives to parties and other horrid concerns regarding the Medical-Military Industrial (“a lot of killers”, in and out of medical facilities) at my site, Home, and Outreach (Comments).
The most reasonable hypothesis is that the point of the entire exercise IS to keep “the people’s business” off the table, so that the system that pursues the business interests of the oligarchs who own and operate it can continue, while the clown show distracts the Stupids. And, guess what, it works!
What isn’t considered here is what President Pence might do to hasten Armageddon should the Senate Republicans decide to make him Commander in Chief, thank you very much idiot Democrats. The question isn’t whether Trump deserves impeachment, but rather do we.
Of course the question should be centered up0n impeachment of Trump which would serve as a warning to Pence if and when he would commit transgressions, both upon the American people and of people living abroad. No one should be considered to be above the law.
The irony of all of this is delicious. Trump encourages the leader of the Ukraine to look corruption associated with the origins of a failed coup attempt against his country instigated by the same people who launched a failed coup against our country (and himself), and now those who failed twice (but got immensely wealthy trying it) want to impeach our President (another coup attempt) for the supposed “crime” of having had the audacity to simply ask law enforcement to investigate both coup attempts and their associated corrupt activities.
“He must be overthrown for the crime of attempting to hold us responsible for our attempts to overthrow governments!!!”
Exactly. All of these, ‘they are both horrible’ judgments, obscures the fact that Trump’s enemies are much, much worse than Trump.
What they have done is treason, pure and simple. Before the election, I considered it a choice between evil and stupid. Trump is more stupid than I thought, and the Clintonites are far more evil.
There is almost nothing good to say about either side in this matter.
A rude, corrupt, loud-mouthed, belligerent President or a scheming, corrupt, dishonest, warring Congress.
It is the American condition that virtually none of these people, none of America’s leaders, are worthy to be praised.
The entire impeachment business is one more piece of dumb-show theater in Washington, theater which distracts from and obscures the ugly real workings of empire.
We should remember this whole trail of events – Trump’s calls about Biden’s activities – goes back to an American-induced and paid-for coup against an elected government in Ukraine, a coup approved by that smiling Peace Prize winner, Obama, the same man who brought hell on earth to Libya and Syria.
If they actually around to the trial, which I tend to doubt will happen, the participants should wear frock coats and wigs and offer speeches about “pledging scared honor.”
It would make good theater while off to the side they starve people in a half dozen lands, bomb the crap out of people in another half dozen lands, run a massive hi-tech international extrajudicial killing operation, support incredibly bloody tyrants like the Saudi Crown Prince, the Generalissimo of Egypt, and the thug Prime Minister of Israel.
These considerations on aspects of the impeachment, stressing its political nature, may be interesting to readers:
See: Oct 10, 2019, John Chuckman; /a-few-thoughts-on-the-house-intelligence-committees-impeachment-inquiry/
The purpose of the long, expensive Mueller investigation was to find evidence supporting the Democrats’ allegations of Russian interference with the 2016 election. It failed to find such evidence. Franky, some of us still have impeachment fatigue from the years that Democrats were “on the brink” of impeaching Bush Jr. Somewhere along the line, Democrats are going to have to face reality, acknowledging the consequences of splitting apart their own voting base.
50% of us don’t vote 1) it never improves anything and 2) we are busy earning enoigh to stay out the homeless shelter. Voting for the cat turd party orvthe dog turd party is too high on the hierarchy of needs
Indeed and well said.
As things are, we have only two viable parties when it comes to presidential elections. In 2016, roughly half of all registered voters rejected BOTH Clinton and Trump for essentially the same reasons. They either voted third party or withheld their votes. The US itself has been on a long economic decline, and we’re over 20 years into the Democrats’ war on the poor. For those who aren’t among the more fortunate, neither party today is the “lesser of the evils.”
Yes, to me the 2016 election required a detailed analysis of the relative value of cow flop and horse flop.
I did finally vote for horse flop, expecting nothing better than the absence of cow flop.
How has the writer of this drivel not noticed that these Democrats have not done a damn piece of legislation the entire time that President Trump has served in office? Just look at the record of Adam Schifty.
ADDENDUM: Not that the other side of the aisle has done any either…
Here Here! Great article!! Bravo!!
“The Great Recession stemmed directly from economic policies implemented during the administration of President Bill Clinton and continued by his successor. Deregulating the banking sector was projected to produce a bonanza in which all would share. Yet, as a direct result of the ensuing chicanery, nearly 9 million Americans lost their jobs, while overall unemployment shot up to 10 percent. Roughly 4 million Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. The stock market cratered and millions saw their life savings evaporate. Again, the question must be asked: How do these results compare to Trump’s dubious dealings with Ukraine?”
Clinton was indeed responsible for deregulating the banks and the elimination of Glass-Steagall. The liberals who once saved capitalism from itself are long gone and the banks who all along had a greedy need to get their hands on all of the cash in savings banks had their due by allowing investment banks and savings banks once again to live under the same roof. The same was true for the Savings and Loan banking deregulation which was signed into law in the rose garden by an overly optimistic president Ronald Reagan who claimed that deregulation of the Savings and Loan Banks would usher in a new era of investments and creative capitalism that then led to massive fraud and the collapse of the Savings and Loan banking industry.
The aftermath of similar deregulations follows a similar course. Energy deregulation resulted in the collapse of Enron a darling of the Bush Cheney administration. The Savings and Loan banking deregulation signed into law by Reagan led to the collapse of the Saving and Loan banks. The collapse of the Investment Banking system signed into law by President Clinton resulted in the Great Recession caused by the collapse of investment banks that provided separation between investment and savings banks which is what Glass-Steagall accomplished only to be undone by Bill Clinton as president of The United States.
Americans never learn any lessons from these deregulation failures because there is an Iron Triangle between the MSM the Government and Corporations and big banks.
At the root cause of this alliance between government elected leaders and big business including the banking industry and the other major industries which crosses both party lines is that Washington is controlled by the wishes of big business supported by lies and propaganda that the media uses taking full advantage or their monopoly of their bullhorns yelling conservative propaganda in the ear of every citizen. They need us citizens to vote for what is ultimately not in our interests to support deregulatory laws that are in the interests of big money but will eventually bankrupt a whole lot of citizens.
Trump became the darling of wealth when he pushed through tax deregulation for corporations. This deregulation did not produce any jobs as promised but instead funneled hundreds of billions of dollars into stock buybacks in order to prop up the price for shares. Corporations that were the recipients of large sums of cash in the form of tax breaks simply plowed all the cash into stock buyback initiatives to boost share prices. The net effect of the tax breaks resulted in the transfer of the tax break cash to investors. Nothing else happened except the rich got richer. The stock buyback programs had no effect on corporate bottom lines that routinely created red ink on the books due to creating losses for the purpose of tax breaks and it did not spurn production or innovation or increased employment. The tax breaks were simply transferred to wealthy investors who cared not a whit about anything other than their net wealth.
What is the long term financial health prognosis of American Corporations traded on the Stock Market? Did the tax breaks have any meaningful impact on their longevity? Did they actually fulfill the plans of Trump to make America Great Again (which is a stolen phrase made by many presidents)? Did creating tax breaks make American business’s stronger leading to a repatriation of industrial jobs formerly shipped overseas?
The answer is yes they made investors richer but no nobody else saw an economic revival with real wage increases.
There is a clear thread through all of this history that our government has routinely in the last decades passed laws signed by republicans and democrats that allowed the wealthy to clean up making a fortune while average American Citizens are also routinely left holding the bag. From the deregulation of Savings and Loans to Savings Banks to the Tax Breaks for billionaires Reagan, Clinton and Trump have all fallen in line to do the bidding of wealth based on false claims that deregulation is tantamount to economic security for average Americans.
The opposite has been the history.
America the crumbling empire.
TO CITIZEN ONE:
“Here, here!” So-called “liberals/progressives” (?) can never accept responsibility for the creation of the
economic and political problems which brought Donald Trump to office. They have pushed for medicare for
all with wisdom but have utterly failed to confront the loss of job of hundreds of thousands of Americans of
all “classes” and the murder and torture of hundreds of thousands of others in global wars or of Afro-Americans,
Native Americans and others within the US.
—Peter Loeb, Boston, MA
Great comment Citizen One! Yes, indeed. the betrayal of the working class for decades by the Clinton /Bush/ Reagan set who served the profiteers via bank deregulation and catastrophic wars for profit impacted the 2016 presidential election…..
Andrew Bacevich’s excellent article pointed out the folly of the impeachment crowd insisting on conflating Trump’s offenses with a redemption of Hillary Clinton as the rightful president and it’s therefore likely to backfire.
Hillary Clinton lost, IMO, partly because she was seen by some voters to be part and parcel of those misguided and wrongheaded policies. Meanwhile she carelessly dissed Trump voters as “deplorables”……
The “best and brightest” who knew how to crank the gears of government proved that all their insider knowledge of how things “work” were used in a way that did not well serve the people who are the backbone of this country.
And there remains a deeply entrenched MICIMATT that is incapable of understanding that they are part of the problem that brought us to Trump.
People are sick of the lies and distortions that don’t acknowledge that the banking deregulation landed like a ton of bricks on working people while enriching the banksters and that the wars destabilized regions enriched the profiteers, wrongly and tragically used the people serving in the military who are owed, IMO, a promise that they will only be asked to protect their country from a legitimate threat. And surely, those trillions of dollars wasted could have been used far more wisely.
Thanks, Andrew Bacevich for your thoughtful analysis of what’s ailing us! Great comment Citizen One!
Thanks for your comment and support of the vision that the problem we face is a duopoly evelync. There is the very high probability that our national government including both parties consisting of the Democratic and Republican parties have existed as a permanent duopoly combining both political parties into a single combined national political party. In practice both parties are aligned and supportive of policies that benefit the rich, For decades this duopoly has existed in secret right before our eyes. The blinders that have covered up our eyes are our national media news corporations that have no obligation to tell the truth to citizens and every responsibility under corporate laws to serve the interests of investors. Thus elections are merely a simulated battle for control of our government when the eventual victor always beholden to the power of money. The dysfunction of our democracy lies in the usurpation of the principles of democracy. Constitutional Democracy in America holds that citizens should have a say in how our government led by public servants should act based on serving their fellow citizens. That dream of a public servant led democracy has long ago been abandoned and has been replaced by a duopoly where both parties are beholden to the rich, the few and the privileged who do not represent the majority of the citizens of the nation.
Well and good I say. The rich deserve to dominate our politics and control both parties leaving us with no real choices. The propagandist media deserve to reap huge profits by controlling our elections in an era where campaign donations have no limits and the donors are protected by the newly reinterpreted version of protected free speech. To the media go the spoils and campaign deregulations are their gravy train. Here, here to the clever manipulators of elections that pass laws for gerrymandering districts and tech companies targeting individual voters with targeted advertisements on social media based on their stolen internet profiles in order to sway their votes.
We get the democracy we deserve in the end.
The point today’s Democrat voters can’t grasp: Most votes come down to economic issues. The Dem. voting base had long consisted of the poor and middle class, for the common good. The Clinton administration split this base wide apart, and the Obama years confirmed that this split is permanent. Oddly, our bourgeoisie remain clueless about the consequences. We spent over 20 years trying to clue them in, but it proved to be a lost cause.
Bill Clinton once told us the truth. “It’s the economy stupid.” That was why people took a chance on Trump’s presidency. He at least gave lip service to people’s economic struggles.
Of course previous presidents have been vile, but why not get rid of this narcissistic imbecile if it is possible?
He threatens the continuation of life on this planet by his denial of climate chaos.
> but why not get rid of this narcissistic imbecile if it is possible?
Because his successor would be Pence?
If they were not such a bunch of short-sighted fools and puppets of their financiers, I might at least hope that they were only planning to keep this up until the next Presidential election, without actually giving Trump the heave-ho
Yes, Trump deserves to be impeached. But first come Clinton, Little Bush and Obama – all for grievous war crimes. Of course, those three are retired and therefore, as far as impeachment goes, “off the hook”. But without holding those three accountable, this impeachment procedure against Trump is unconvincing, to say the least.
But of course the theater will go on because there is no cure for TDS (Trump derangement Syndrom), a disease the sheeple is afflicted with.
The author seems a bit naive. He calls the Republocrat elite “centrist,” thereby using their own deceptive self-description that is designed — as the British term “white man’s burden” was in the 19th century — to obscure the fact that the only thing centrist about the US power elite is their radical belief that the US is the center of the universe and deserves to be treated as such and remunerated accordingly. And the author doesn’t mention the gigantic Russiagate fake narrative even once, although it’s quite obvious that the “impeachment” is actually Russiagate2.0, that is, a second, renewed attempt by the security state and neocon Dems to restrain a sitting president who publicly supports detente with Russia and N. Korea and is trying to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan and even, hesitantly, from NATO. Trump is being attacked by the neocon “Blob” and the security state not because he is incompetent but precisely because he is barely competent enough and slightly brave enough to be making faltering, confused steps toward trying to shrink the American world empire.
In addition, the author misses what is surely the number one motive (among several) for the upcoming faux impeachment. It is almost surely not mainly about a phone call or about removing Trump. It seems to be an attempted psyop designed to create a smokescreen to divert attention away from the ongoing Barr-Durham investigation of the origins of Russiagate/Spygate. Real indictments and painful debunkings of many cherished elite lies are possible, and both the Dems and the security state are using a fake impeachment as a way to create a counter-narrative that will try to delegitimize the whole DOJ investigation and allow them to escape responsibility for creating probably the biggest fraud in US political history.
From article: “Holding promised security assistance hostage unless a foreign leader agrees to do you political favors is obviously and indisputably wrong. Trump’s antics regarding Ukraine may even meet some definition of criminal.”
Is that what happened? And no president ever did any kind of “antics” like that before? How about a vice-president? In fact, isn’t the deal much clearer in Biden’s case (given his resurrected quote to the council on foreign relations) that he threatened to hold hostage financial aid to Ukraine, unless the state prosecutor was fired, who was investigating the company that placed Hunter Biden’s on its board? And then once a new state prosecutor took over, the investigation sort of evaporated?
And where’s the rest of the crucial context re: Obama admin’s. Nuland, Biden, Clinton, et.al. fomenting overthrow of former Ukrainian president (through tactics that bolstered neo-Nazi political groups) shortly before Biden’s son was awarded, er, appointed to the board of Burisma?
You can find more context at Push Back with Aaron Mate talking with Max Blumenthal at The Grayzone. (2 parts.) A major defense contractor is enmeshed. See: thegrayzone.com, 10/08/2019
No doubt, as Professor Bacevich points out, status quo ante is a powerful force. And no doubt mountebanks of all stripes will mount new 3-card monte diversions to avoid identifying and discussing how to solve the most crucial problems facing the country.
There’s a pretty good case to be made that a primary purpose of the impeachment brouhaha is to knock the pins out from under the investigation of who exactly instigated the RussiaGate farce and did it amount to an internal coup against a sitting president?
strategic-culture.org, 10/05/2019 The Campaign to Stop William Barr
So who really knows which way the wind will blow through this? My fervent hope is, like Capone being sent-up for tax evasion, this relatively minor event will blow both major parties and their status quo to smithereens. Sort of a necessary precondition to getting a government that actually works on behalf of the will of the people, don’t you think?
“his critics refuse “to admit how massively his election signified the failure of their policies, from endless war to economic inequality.” This article lays it out so clearly. It would have been simple to have had Bernie win against Trump in 2016, but the media and the rich couldn’t allow that to cripple their greed. The Democrats are willing to repeat in 2020 with Biden so they can continue to rake in the Benjamins.
All this “high drama” obscures the fact that the rich got massive tax breaks, cut Wall Street and environmental regulations, privatized education and the prison industry, continued endless Wars, fueled massive increase to the MIC.
With growing population and continued environmental damage, we are facing a reckoning. Time for a WAKE-UP CALL.
The deep state moves to get rid of Trump are in full court press mode today. The arrest of two men supposedly “associates” of Rudolph Giuliani fully confirms Chuck Schumer’s statement that, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
Trump has repeatedly insulted the intel folks, the media, and the democrat party. Now they are intent on wreaking their revenge on him, whatever it takes. Just as these forces care nothing of killing millions, they also don’t mind corrupting and destroying the last aspects of the dream of real democracy in America.
True enough, but hatred and contempt, malign partisanship, have been the norm since at least Reagan’s time. For that matter, constant warfare has pleased us since about 1950. The impoverishing of the average American goes back to Reagan, too. I have no doubt that Team GOP will impeach the next Dem president, as well.
Thanks, Zhu! Your comment is short and to the point, although the first time I read it I saw “warfare has PLAGUED us since about 1950″ :) But a sarcastic(?) “pleased” us will do just as well!
One of the most well balanced articles I’ve read in a long long time. Glad I found this man.
Andrew Bacevich’s “America’s War for the Greater Middle East” provides a very good dive into our wrong headed 70 year trajectory.
And his talk at the opening of the Pardee School at Boston university especially his commentary during the Q&A is terrific.
It’s still available, I think, on you tube or at the Pardee School web site.
He’s an honest thoughtful historian.
So is Daniel Immerdar “How to Hide an Empire”. As well as Hajimu Masuda “Cold War Crucible” – the illusions and distortions that contributed to Cold War thinking and the violence it bred.
Each of these books pushes back hard on the illusions used to frighten people into disastrous wars.
sorry Daniel Immerwahr,,,,
Middle class liberals can’t grasp what happened in 2016, when roughly half of all registered voters rejected both Clinton and Trump. They maintain their resistance against seeing how deeply Democrats split apart their own voting base. They certainly won’t consider how Democrats drove away even more voters since the election. Republicans haven’t been picking up new supporters, but Democrats have lost more of theirs.
Throughout, some have tried to remind Democrats of a long established fact about elections: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Economic policies. The neoliberal Clinton wing pitted middle class again poor, workers against those left jobless, with predictable results. The Obama years confirmed that this split is permanent — and Democrats blamed Russia. Middle class liberals continue to wail for “economic justice” for themselves, oblivious to the masses who were already phased out of the job market. They have no idea that our poverty crisis, itself, is proof of the failures of our “free market” capitalism. Now they go all-out for a “socialist” who isn’t, in the name of a “revolution” to protect the status quo of middle class workers, within our capitalist system. Radical.
Too true, Fabian! Dems have certainly lost me!
Trump may be vulgar, white supremacist but nowhere as incompetent and destructive as George Bush. And yet, a lot of people, including the writer, wants to make the world believe that he’s the worst president ever.
I don’t think Trump or any other President in the world could do worse than the idiot who invaded Afghanistan, launched the war on iraq, under whose watch the biggest Financial crisis of all times happened.
And the author, in purpose or not, seems to forget that the impeachment may backfire once the Biden story in Ukraine will emerge.
Last but not least, I see as title by this author: ““The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory,”
Cold war victory is a nonsense. They didn’t win a damn thing, the USSR collapsed on its own, China which was another element of cold war lived on and may in a few years take over US economy, Cuba resisted, Socialism starts to be embraced by many americans as antidote to savage capitalism. So, posthumously, USSR may end up claiming victory!
Great comment!!! The leaders in China learned a lot in the 1990s when they saw what the “West” did to destroy Russia and made sure they did not allow the same attempts at “democracy” to destroy China!
All very true, Zambuto. Bush deserves to hang as much as Tojo did.
(1) Is the idea that, even when a member of Congress has evidence of acts by a president which, in the member’s “prudential judgment”, rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, he/she should not resort to the only remedy afforded by the Constitution? (2) Is it not conceivable that, while certain interest groups (the never-really-defined “elite”) may see an advantage in impeachment, that’s not the same as those interest groups’ pushing for impeachment in furtherance of a “restoration”? Further, to ascribe cause and effect solely to the “elite” removes from the equation the not-inconsiderable segment of the public (the “non-elite”, presumably) who just might prefer a president less enamored of insisting that laws don’t apply to him. (3) To describe criminal conduct as “ham-handed” is to mitigate its toxic effects. (4) Does the “failure of [the president’s critics’] policies, from endless war to economic inequality” refer to the policies that American voters have preferred for decades? The suggestion that the voting public (or, at least, the 50% of those eligible who bother to show up) has been a helpless by-stander is fanciful. Everything happens in the American body politic because enough people want it to (or aren’t interested enough to oppose).
I agree. You nailed it.
To your last line, GKJames- would that it were true! Read the full Gilens and Page study out of Princeton on American oligarchy of a few years back. It definitively proves that even if 80% of the populace wants something to happen, it only happens if the top dogs allow it to happen. In other words, we live under oligarchical rule. And that rule, whether being commandeered by Team Red or Team Blue, leaves what the average citizen wants out in the cold to freeze to death.
@ML: We can agree that the country’s become a plutocracy. But I come at the issue from the other direction: all structures and mechanisms of democracy remain in place. If enough of the public wants to change the status quo, it has the tools available to do so. The question is why it chooses not to (and why, instead, it perpetually howls in outrage). The answer, of course, varies depending on whom you ask. By and large, though, enough of the public isn’t sufficiently bothered by the state of things to do something about it.
In 2016, only 54% chose to show up to exercise THE most fundamental democratic right; participation in off-year elections for Congress is at about 38%. Incumbency rates are 90%+. And why is it that, invariably, third-party candidates never win?
Being an informed citizen requires hard work, even more so as issue become increasingly complex. At the core, though, is the reality that legislators sent to Washington are exquisitely sensitive to constituent discontent. In other words, if they don’t get an earful from the folks back home, they do what they do. But the instant that something enrages those folks and the switchboard on Capitol Hill lights up, you will see legislators turn on a dime.
Voter frustration is easy to understand. But condemning both sides, while convenient, wrongly suggests an equivalence that, on close examination doesn’t exist. Further, there is a huge difference between voters’ wishes being ignored and simply being outvoted.
“all structures and mechanisms of democracy remain in place. If enough of the public wants to change the status quo, it has the tools available to do so.”
The election process has been completely subverted. Look at the rigging that took place in the 2016 democratic primaries. The Plutocracy forces the public to choose between corporate sponsored warmonger from column A or B.
The structures and mechanisms in all branches of government have been taken over by the Oligarchy. The MSM uses its “Mighty Wurlitzer” to control the narrative to which the vast majority is exposed. “Constituent discontent” is kept to a minimum on all major issues by effective use of all the tools of propaganda that the plutocracy has been refining for decades. Any candidate that could provide meaningful change is either brought to heel or culled by the plutocracy during the primaries.
The extent of the difference of the “both sides” is a meaningless fight over whether we have gender specific restrooms to go with our Forever War. “Close examination” reveals a corrupt system that denies the public the ability to exercise its will. Examination of the actions taken during the Clinton and Obama administrations reveals that the “equivalence” is very substantial indeed.
The bloody mess of American politics has been bared for the whole world to see, right here in this crossroads age of humanity. The pain and suffering caused by this country doesn’t even register with the politicos. Democrats have become worse than Repubs; at least we knew GOP was the party of business, but we see that Dems have abandoned the working class totally. The Bushes and Clintons headed the breakup, and the fact that Hillary Clinton can’t exit the scene shows that. Yeah, the destroyer of Libya is considered a centrist, shows just what is wrong with this country.
The article says centrists believe in:
– corporate capitalism
– American primacy
– American global leadership (via military enforcers)
– so-called meritocracy
…That is, ‘meritocracy’ in a rigged game where going to the right schools helps you build the right social networks, leveraging inter-generational wealth, in a self-absorbed world dominated white supremacy so pervasive, it can be all but invisible when viewed from the inside. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a poster child.
First the Mueller report and now impeachment lite. It’s only crowd noise to keep all our eyes off the ball. If nothing is allowed to happen, the meritocracy wins again. That’s how nihilism works – for both sides.
Hillary an, ‘über-qualified centrist’? Centrist? If Hillary was centre, what on earth qualifies as hard right? US politics and terminology have me utterly baffled.
Believe me, you aren’t the only one trying to understand the new-speak!
HRC may style herself as a “centrist” or a “moderate” or “pragmatic” but you are correct, she is a right-wing Republican to her bones. The words “leftist” and “centrist” and “moderate” and “socialist” etc, are all simply confusing nomenclature for most Americans, much less anyone else in the world trying to make sense of our corrupt government and media. The fact is, most politicians today, whether on Team Blue or Team Red, are very right-of-center. With the exception of abortion and LBGTQ rights, there is little distinction between the two right-wing parties because there’s much, much more they agree upon than what they disagree upon. Most Americans are still blind to this fact, which is why there are so many partisans who rally round their preferred team colors each quadrennial dog and pony show, to the consternation of those of us who see the charade for what it is. The Democrats have always existed as a safety valve of sorts, for people to let off steam and anger when the more retrograde Republicans are having their turn mauling Americans’ wellbeing. Both parties should be $hit-canned and tossed out with the trash.
I think the point is, that it is not spectrum. The center represents the establishment and the continuance of things as they are.
Yeah, we’ve long had cause to impeach him – nepotism by populating the executive branch with his family, usurping Congress’ prerogative for raising revenue by unilaterally imposing tariffs, violations of the USs international obligations by unilaterally withdrawing from treaties, violating the emoluments clause, etc etc etc. But no, they want to impeach him for the crime of continuing America’s corrupt, sleazy style of foreign policy…
Exactly. Trump is the result of voter disgust with Bush III vs Clinton II, the presumed match up for a year or more leading up to 2016.
Now Democrats want to do it again, thinking they can elect anybody against Trump. That’s what Hillary thought too.
Now the Republicans who lost their party to Trump think they can take it back with somebody even more lame than Jeb, if only they could find someone, anyone, to run on that non-plan.
Trump won for lack of alternatives. Our political class is determined to prevent any alternatives breaking through this time either. They don’t want Trump, but even more they want to protect their gravy train of donor money, the huge overspending on medical care (four times the defense budget) and of course all those Forever Wars.
Trump could win, for the same reasons as last time, even though the result would be no better than last time.
Well, yeah but I recall that what won Trump the Republican Nomination was first and foremost his stance on Immigration. This issue is what separated him from the herd of candidates . None of them had the courage or the desire to go against Governmental Groupthink on Immigration. All he then had to do was get on top of low energy Jeb Bush and the road was clear. He got the base on his side on this issue and on his repeated statement that he wished to normalize relations with Russia . He won the nomination easily. The base is still on his side on these issues but Governmental Groupthink has prevailed in the House, the Senate, the Intelligence Services and the Federal Courts. Funny how nobody in the Beltway, especially not in media, is brave enough to admit that the entire Neoconservative scheme has been a disaster and that of course we should get out of Syria . Nor can anyone recall the corruption and warmongering that now seem that seems endemic to the Democratic Party. Of course Trump has to wear goat’s horns. “Off with his head”.
The good that can come of this is that the Republicans and Democrats will be investigating each other, and their allies in the intelligence services. Lots of malfeasance on both sides will be exposed.
I wish the slick I.D. politics obsessed corporate Dems nothing but the worst, absolute worst. They reap what they sow. If it means another four years of Trump, so be it. It’s the price that’s going to have to be paid.
At a time when a majority of U.S. citizens cannot muster up $500 for an emergency dental bill or car repair without running down to the local “pay day loan” lender shark (now established as legitimate businesses) the corporate Dems, in their infinite wisdom, decide to concoct an impeachment circus to run simultaneously when all the dirt against the execrable Brennan and his intel minions starts to hit the press for their Russiagate hoax. Nice sleight of hand there corporate Dems.
Of course, the corporate Dems would rather lose to Trump than win with a progressive-populist like Bernie. After all, a Bernie win would mean an end to a lot of careerism and cushy positions within the establishment political scene in Washington and throughout the country.
Now we even have the destroyer of Libya mulling another run for the presidency.
Forget about having a job the next day and forget about the 25% interest on your credit card or that half your income is going toward your rent or mortgage, or that you barely see your kids b/c of the 60 hour work week, just worry about women lawyers being able to make partner at the firm, and trans people being able to use whatever bathroom they wish and male athletes being able to compete against women based on genitalia (no, wait, I’m confused now).
Either class politics and class warfare comes front and center or we witness a burgeoning neo-fascist movement in our midst. It’s that simple, something has got to give!
I think the better choice this time around would be Tulsi Gabbard in lieu of Bernie. Bernie is old, just had a heart attack and tends to follow the herd far to often. Look at his joining the neocon republicans and neoliberal democrats in piling on Trumps latest wise decision to pull out of Syria. Believe me I am no Trump fan but I do believe he needs to be supported when he makes the right call regardless of what you think otherwise.
Absolutely right, Drew H.
This whole charade, from Russiagate onward, has been nothing but peeve (Killary’s loss) and, more so distraction and deflection. Distraction of the electorate and deflecting their attention and hate toward Russia. And distraction from the fact that Congress, so busy with Russiagate first, now Ukrainegate, can only find time to award themselves and their best buddies massive tax cuts and obscenely enormous taxpayer (our $$$, not theirs, of course) spending raises for that paragon of US exceptionalism, the MIC. Oops, did we not do anything about medical costs? about homelessness, increasing poverty, the disappearance of real jobs and their replacement (when replaced) by temporary gig work or zero hours contracts and the like.
Actually – rents (never interestingly included in the inflation measures) are now taking up, according to something I heard (NPR – and it was quickly dismissed and its implications ignored), to 90% of some people’s income… And here in the south west I can attest to the ever rising rent phenomenon all too personally.
A snarky Warren supporter told me she was “concerned” about Bernie’s health.
I responded that it seemed evident that “Liz” was loath to criticize the DNC leadership and, that if we were to elect an Obama 2.0, the Right would return with a vengeance.
this is pitiful: See Jimmy Dore on YouTube: Elizabeth Warren Face Plants On Biden Corruption Question
When Establishment politicians do it, it is not corruption, it is business as usual. Sleazy pay-to-play has been the rule since at least Chinagate (which in many ways was a better model for Russiagate):
“In addition to partisan complaints from Republicans, columnists Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, and Morton Kondracke, as well as a number of FBI agents, suggested the investigations into the fund-raising controversies were willfully impeded.
FBI agent Ivian Smith wrote a letter to FBI Director Freeh that expressed “a lack of confidence” in the Justice Department’s attorneys regarding the fund-raising investigation. He wrote: “I am convinced the team at… [the Department of Justice] leading this investigation is, at best, simply not up to the task… The impression left is the emphasis on how not to prosecute matters, not how to aggressively conduct investigations leading to prosecutions.” Smith and three other FBI agents later testified before Congress in late 1999 that Justice Department prosecutors impeded their inquiry. FBI agent Daniel Wehr told Congress that the first head U.S. attorney in the investigation, Laura Ingersoll, told the agents they should “not pursue any matter related to solicitation of funds for access to the president. The reason given was,
‘That’s the way the American political process works.’
I was scandalized by that,” Wehr said. The four FBI agents also said that Ingersoll prevented them from executing search warrants to stop destruction of evidence and micromanaged the case beyond all reason.
FBI agents were also denied the opportunity to ask President Clinton and Vice President Gore questions during Justice Department interviews in 1997 and 1998 and were only allowed to take notes. During the interviews, neither Clinton nor Gore were asked any questions about fund-raisers John Huang and James Riady, nor the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple fund-raising event led by Maria Hsia and attended by Huang and Ted Sioeng.”