It's not just the president who is on trial

  • Susan Estrich

    Susan Estrich

By Susan Estrich
Posted12/20/2019 1:00 AM

In other news, can you believe Christmas is next week? I mean, who has bought anything? It just jumped on us, like impeachment, but you need gift wrap and tape.

I have never seen impeachment show up at such at inconvenient time, even for die-hards like me. Not to mention all the new movies.


"Is there something new?" we ask one another.

Not today, it seems. The hottest story is Page Six's "reporting" on Hunter Biden's latest paternity suit. Did Biden really have a baby with a stripper after having broken up with his sister-in-law? And exactly what was he doing to earn a million dollars, much less from a Ukrainian company? Legally, of course.

The Republicans want to rush this impeachment thing along since we know the end. The Democrats want people to pay attention.

Trying President Donald Trump should be a big deal in a democracy. That it is not, or might not be, or at least that a substantial body of spinning tops is trying to turn it into a boring reality show, is a measure of the beating our democratic institutions have taken under this administration -- as well as the holiday travel. This isn't about sex. It isn't about what "is" is. The president abused the power of the presidency to serve his partisan political ends. He held up much-needed foreign aid for no reason other than his own hoped-for partisan advantage. He besmirched the office of the presidency.

And if the Republicans have their way, it will be over by the New Year's sales.

He's going to get away with it. I understand that. But process matters. This is not the World Series or the Super Bowl. It is democracy on trial: the Senate sitting in judgment; a finding to be made based on fact and law, conviction or acquittal.

Donald John Trump is not the only one on trial here. It's the Constitution, stupid. I know what the cynics say: This was nothing but a partisan game from the beginning; there is nothing to be said or learned; take a vote and game over.

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I think we're way too far along for that.

We have initiated a process that must be treated with the seriousness it deserves, not as a dismissive tweet but an example of how justice is done for the world to see.

Can the Senate do that?

Can men and women, when called to sit as judge and jury, put down their phones and listen; take off their pins and hear; think about anything more than the evening polls?

Probably not.

That is what everyone is betting: that they will behave like the trained swamp dwellers who they are, who got them there, who keep them there, putting raising money ahead of raising principles, getting in line behind a man they openly disrespect.

Maybe that's how it will go. But we should at least get to watch it -- slowly; watch decent men shed their patina of decency -- deliberately; let them talk their way into circles -- with passion; let them wonder just how dumb we really are.

There is no rush, not because we need to know what happens but because we need to see how it happens. And that will tell us more about the men and women who would be our leaders in the future than where they are now, and where they hope to end up quickly.

© 2019, Creators

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