From the very start, the entire presidency of Donald Trump has been predicated on one spiteful, overarching goal: to eradicate the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Whether it was the reckless dismantling and corruption of all those Executive agencies meant to serve the American people, the weaponization of the Justice Department in his attempts to gut or kill the Voting Rights and Affordable Care Acts, the repudiation of our foreign alliances and strange embrace of totalitarian dictatorships, or the poisoning of the federal judiciary with incompetents and ideological hacks, Trump’s entire presidency can be fairly cast as one extended attempt to reverse the progress the country experienced under Obama.
His desire to construct a “wall” to repel immigrants, his unilateral revocation of longstanding, strategic arms treaties and trade agreements that have irrevocably transformed the U.S. into an erratic and unreliable pariah among nations, all seek to distinguish himself from that legacy, to set him apart. Indeed, he commonly tweets about his achievements, bragging about them in comparison to Obama. Because, apparently, he can’t bear the thought that an African American could do a better job than he.
Conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin, writing for the Washington Post, observes that as of next week, Trump will finally attain the satisfaction and recognition he craves. He will have done something that distinctly separates his historical legacy from that of Barack Obama: he will be impeached.
Trump can hate-tweet, and House Republicans can rant and lie all they want, but Trump, after what is expected to be a near straight party-line vote in the full House next week, will have gotten his one line in history: “Trump was impeached for abusing his office to pressure a foreign nation to influence a presidential election in his favor and for obstructing Congress’s investigation of the same.”
Historians tasked with examining Trump’s presidency will always note the singular asterisk following his name, but they will search in vain for a similar notation for Obama. Because even with the unprecedented degree of personal smears, attacks and lies leveled against President Obama by the Republican Party (which controlled both chambers of Congress throughout the majority of his tenure), there was never any serious thought given to impeaching him. Trump will own that distinction for the rest of of his life, and history will faithfully record it for all time.
As for those Republicans, as Rubin points out, they too, along with their many enablers in the media, will also, forever, experience the verdict of history on their own actions during this period. They too will be remembered long after this process has run its course:
For the Republican Party, this episode is, we can only hope, the final nail in a party that has become a mouthpiece for foreign propaganda and an anti-democratic enabler of a corrupt president. We arrived at this point because Republicans rejected character as a qualification for president; Republicans joined in Trump’s assault on facts; Republicans attacked and smeared the intelligence community; Republicans refused to hold Trump accountable for obstruction of Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation in Russian interference in the 2016 election; and Republicans refused to find fault and perhaps agree on a lesser penalty than impeachment. Without a willing and deceitful right-wing media and “useful idiots” in the House Republican caucus, we would not now be facing the ordeal of impeachment.
Likewise, the “sham” trial being concocted right now for Trump by the Republican Senate will also make for sorry fodder in this country’s historical record, as Majority leader Mitch McConnell openly colludes with the administration to reach what is obviously shaping up to be a predetermined and preordained outcome. Because Trump will not only have succeeded in permanently staining his own presidency, but abetting the destruction of the Senate’s historical reputation for integrity as well:
It is fitting I suppose that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is already colluding with the White House to conduct a sham Senate trial in which witnesses will be prevented from testifying. McConnell hammers the last nail in the coffin of the Senate’s reputation when, without hesitation nor any concern for the institution and in the role of the trial juror’s foreman, he plots with the defendant to promulgate rules that ensure the least amount of fuss in the march to their predetermined outcome.
Rubin is conscious of the sad legacy that will be left for her fellow Republicans as the years pass along and future generations are tasked with examining the behavior and actions of her compatriots, tacitly acknowledging that college-level studies in political science and the history of this time will forever, invariably, be reduced to examining the antics of such GOP “representative” specimens such as Jim Jordan, Louis Gohmert and Matt Gaetz (for the record, Jordan has declared he “doesn’t care” how he’s remembered). Conversely, the bravery and integrity of ordinary civil servants, the Fiona Hills, the Marie Yovanovitches, the William Taylors, will be extolled as examples of dedication and courage.
And, in what must be a painful political admission, she credits Democrats for steadfastly following their Constitutional responsibility in this sordid affair.
Anyone not intoxicated by the brew of Fox News-Breitbart-Federalist-Sinclair-talk radio conspiracy theories, out-and-out lies and hysteria would, after only a few minutes of viewing the past two days of House Judiciary Committee proceedings, conclude that one party is utterly unfit to hold office and is collectively off its rocker. The other, however imperfectly, is attempting to lay down a marker, to conduct constitutional hygiene and to leave bread crumbs for history that lead to the conclusion: This was the most corrupt president in history who violated his oath and betrayed his country.
Rubin acknowledges there may not be more than “bread crumbs” of democracy left in this country if after all this Trump manages to get himself re-elected in 2020. But she remains hopeful– now that he is about to achieve the unique distinction he has always desperately craved—that the American electorate will see fit to dump this president, and the corrupt party that supported him, into that collective trash bin of shame where all historical travesties go to die.
Those who still love democracy, constitutional government, the rule of law and the promise of a multiracial and multiethnic democracy had better choose a Democratic nominee wisely and then work like hell to elect him or her. The alternative is unimaginable.
There have been far too few Republican voices willing to call out this president for what he is, and for the threat that he represents to our system of government. Rubin has been one of those few.