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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: bill clinton

What We Can Still Learn From Kenneth Starr

For anyone who criticized the late Kenneth W. Starr in life, it might be prudent to observe the ancient Latin injunction: Say nothing but good of the dead. Or to step by in silence.

Yet the career of the former federal appellate jurist who served as Whitewater independent counsel and instigated the impeachment of President Bill Clinton merits rigorous attention, if only because his story illuminates so starkly the hostility of the religious right and the Republican Party toward American women.

No doubt Starr would protest that assessment and instead call attention, as he so often did, to his pietistic moralism. He always peppered his speech with phrases like “as we say in the New Testament,” and once sent forth a flack to inform Washington reporters that as he jogged along the Potomac River every morning, he sang Christian hymns.

That posturing went on full display during the Whitewater probe that he steered into a sex hunt. He was appointed by a panel of right-wing Republican judges after they forced out the moderate Republican Robert Fiske, who was about to end the fruitless investigation. From the beginning, Starr was tainted.

Whitewater was in fact a dry hole, because the Clintons had lost money on the ill-fated land deal and done nothing wrong. Having promised and failed to bring down both Bill and Hillary, he tried to resign– and then was forced by outraged conservatives to resume the hunt with his tail between his legs. It was not long before he started searching for a way to shape the prurient gossip about Bill Clinton into a criminal prosecution.

At that point, Monica Lewinsky fell into his clutches, thanks to Linda Tripp, a vindictive “friend” who also happened to be a conservative zealot, and Lucianne Goldberg, a scheming literary agent who had once spied on reporters for Nixon. Starr mercilessly exploited the young woman who had entered into an affair with the feckless president. Rather than accept a proffer that had been given to his own prosecutors, Starr tormented Monica (and her mother!) for months with threats of prison, unless she told the untrue story he wanted to hear, and wore a wire into Oval Office.

He concluded the investigation by humiliating both her and the president with the publication of The Starr Report, described aptly by critic Renata Adler as “a voluminous work of demented pornography.” By then Starr’s manic invasion of what many Americans regarded as private behavior had turned the public decisively against him. His inquisition crashed, along with his lifelong yearning for a seat on the Supreme Court.

In the ensuing episodes of his life, Starr confirmed all the suspicions about him aroused by the Lewinsky debacle. His professed concerns with morality and the protection of womanhood proved time and again to be a scrim for his worldly priorities of profit and power.

In 2007, Starr joined the defense team of Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy pedophile who had raped many underage girls and ultimately committed suicide in a Manhattan jail cell. He arranged for Epstein to obtain a sweetheart plea deal from US Attorney Alex Acosta, who had worked under him at Kirkland & Ellis, Starr’s longtime law firm. When exposed a decade later, this revolting scheme forced Acosta’s resignation from his Trump administration post as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Yet Starr’s “morality” easily accommodated this lucrative and depraved bit of lawyering.

Even so, a few years later Baylor University, a Baptist religious institution, named Starr as its president and chancellor. The university had reason to regret that choice soon enough, when Starr was revealed to have repeatedly concealed an epidemic of rapes at the school between 2012 and 2016. The Baylor regents bounced him from the presidency after an independent investigation of his conduct, and he subsequently quit his posts as chancellor and law professor in disgrace.

When Starr returned to the public stage as a lawyer for Donald Trump during his first impeachment, nobody could still pretend to be surprised by his hypocrisy. Untroubled by Trump’s history of boastful adulteries and serial abuse of women --including his first wife, who had accused him of marital rape -- or his hush payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels, Starr liked to talk about how proudly he had voted in 2016 to prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency. Naturally, Trump eulogized him as “a great American patriot.”

How did Starr’s perverse style of conservatism, supposedly motivated by Biblical rectitude, inform his abuse of the heroic Lewinsky and his subsequent excusal of rapes and rapists? Apparently, he justified it all in the name of his godly mission. But now we have the whole sordid record of how he used virtue as a cover for vice. It is impossible to find in this reactionary figure even a trace of respect for female dignity and equality.

And now we know just how deeply embedded his pious misogyny is in the modern Republican Party that still admires Ken Starr.

If There's A Crime Wave, That May Well Be Trump's Fault Too

On June 8, San Francisco voters recalled the city’s most recently elected district attorney, Chesa Boudin, because of perceptions of rising crime in the city. Two days later, the public hearings of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol began.

Associating increasing crime and evidence of wrongdoing by former President Trump is not a coincidence.

There’s some debate whether crime rates have, in fact, increased. In San Francisco, for instance, the number of rapes and assaults fell below pre-pandemic levels while Boudin oversaw prosecution of crime in that city. Across the country, crime rates hardly crested in ways that suggest a wave; datapoints for all sorts of crimes, from the severe to the silly, are scattershot.

But the murder rate is the bellweather of crime data — homicides can’t easily be reclassiffied as other crimes that don’t end in death — and murder is up in San Francisco and elsewhere, rising from 5.1 per 100,000 people in 2019 to 6.5 per 100,000 people the next year, so something is happening although clear explanations elude us.

Until 2020, most blame for rises in crime landed on the so-called Ferguson Effect: the theory that public disapproval of law enforcement, as evidenced by mass protests, causes police officers to either fear enforcing the law because of criticism or legal liability, or to refuse to do their jobs without broad public support. Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, championed this explanation of crime. Former Director of the FBI, James Comey, reinforced the same idea in 2016; instead of calling it the Ferguson Effect, he called it the “viral video effect.”

There’s a perception that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime — the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’” he told reporters.

But right now, criminologists don’t know why violent crime is up in certain places. Inflation explains the increase in property crimes, but the increase in violent crimes is somewhat of a mystery, one that finds convenient explanation for the unprecedented chaos of 2020-21: The pandemic, stupid.

A change in routine activities is related to a change in crime,” says Richard Rosenfeld, Curator’s distinguished professor emeritus of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

“One criminologist has referred to the pandemic as the greatest criminological experiment in history,” Rosenfeld continued. “I don't know if that's the case, but it certainly did fall in line with, in my business, what we refer to as the routine activity theory of crime. That is how crime patterns are tied to the day to day activities of the population.”

It makes sense to invoke COVID commotion to explain the unexplainable. But other historical events occurred simultaneously with the pandemic: namely, impeachments of the president.

The House of Representatives voted to impeach then-President Donald J. Trump on December 18, 2019 and the Senate acquitted him on February 5, 2020, two days after the Trump administration declared COVID-19 a public health emergency and twenty days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of a pandemic.

That was just the first impeachment. The second iteration of impeachment — when the House voted to impeach Trump again on January 13, 2021 and the Senate acquittal happened exactly a month later — coincided with the pandemic's second wave of infections.

The causation that some criminologists are attributing to the pandemic might well belong to the formal accusations against the leader of the free world.

Understanding why the crimes of a president could inspire or unleash crime amongst the electorate is where political sociology and the study of deviant behavior collide. Researchers from Washington State University went directly to that intersection, hypothesizing that, after the Watergate scandal, government institutions’ perceived loss of legitimacy would cause an “increased risk of revolution, rebellion, and/or wholesale violations of the laws.”

While the attitudes of people surveyed didn’t adhere to the hypotheses exactly, crime did increase after Watergate; the researchers weren’t wrong. After the crimes and cover ups committed by the various personalities connected with the scandal revealed themselves starting in 1972, rates of lawbreaking — outside the White House — rose, and significantly. Between 1973 and 1974, the number of overall crimes committed increased by 1,535,000, one of the largest jumps in the country’s history. Between 1974 and 1975, that same count went up by over one million again: 1,039,000 more crimes overall.

To be clear, the idea that a public exposure of wrongdoing at the highest levels of government and society delimits deviance doesn’t track entirely. In 1998, President Bill Clinton underwent the same House indictment-Senate acquittal two-step Trump did, but crime decreased in 1999 and thereafter.

But Clinton’s impeachment was different; institutions didn’t lose their legitimacy during that process— despite unethical and unorthodox behavior by special counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the three judge panel in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals that appointed him.

The Monica Lewinsky scandal was about what a man did in the Oval Office, not the office itself. A president can ethically get his joint copped while occupying the position. Clinton was a classic case of sexual indiscretion, perhaps even harassment. His behavior was inexcusable, for sure, but nothing that the average cad hadn’t already done or couldn’t do in his own workplace.

Orchestrating break-ins on political opponents – whether in some swank Northwest Washington apartment complex or the House of Representatives — is never legal or ethical. These indiscretions are rarefied, almost impossible for the average American to conceive, much less pull off. It would make sense that exposing them could unleash mass repudiation of the criminal code.

This explanation of crime spikes doesn’t debunk the Ferguson Effect, which posits that police recede in the face of criticism of their treatment of the public. Rather, it’s the flip side of Ferguson; that criticism of police is just a symptom of law enforcement’s loss of institutional legitimacy. Crime follows the fall, like it did after Watergate, and as it’s likely doing now.

There’s not quite enough evidence — mercifully, the United States Congress hasn’t completed enough impeachments for a robust study sample — to conclude that indicting and tossing a president of office can set off a crime spree. It’s still just a theory. But it’s not an outlandish one.

Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent, and she later established a blog under the same name that earned several professional awards. Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.

Whatever Happens In Midterm, The MAGA Fantasy Isn't Coming True

So, here’s my question for the MAGA crowd, one of several related questions, actually: When was America last great, and what was great about it? Also, when did it quit being great, and why?

To a skeptical observer, it often looks as if restoring the social and political arrangements of, say, Alabama in the 1950s is the movement’s goal. Black people and women in their subservient places, white Protestant men ascendant, and the Cisco Kid and Pancho the only brown people in sight.

To be fair, it’s more the Mayberry of the Andy Griffith Show most of them probably have in mind: more Opie, Aunt Bee, and Barney Fife than Gov. George Wallace and Birmingham’s racial enforcer Bull Connor. Nobody really imagines that racial segregation and police riots are coming back.

For most people, those halcyon days ended at about age twelve, around the time they started reading newspapers, watching TV news, and grokking the adult world. In childhood, life seemed simple, violence and disorder unknown. I can never hear The Judds' saccharine song Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days) on the country oldies station without thinking of Alabama’s hillbilly genius Hank Williams.

The song evokes a bygone era of innocence when “families really bowed their heads to pray/Daddies never went away.” Meanwhile, Hank Williams’ heartbroken songs about drinking, sinning, and running around evoked the world as it was. Grandpa knew, but the children of Mayberry had no idea.

Too many still don’t. Hence MAGA, a fantasy.

That’s an even more roundabout way than usual of saying that regardless of which political party prevails in the November 2022 congressional elections, it would be foolhardy to expect dramatic change of the kind MAGA enthusiasts think they want. They can cheer all they want for a gangster former president who basically called in a hit on his own running mate, but the deck remains stacked against them.

First, it’s not yet clear that Trump is going to get away with it. Should upcoming hearings by the House Select Committee on January 6 prove even halfway as shocking as predicted—a former GOP congressman working as an investigator for the committee describes the evidence as “absolutely stunning”—all Fox News’s horses and all of its men won’t l be able to save him. Also, the former president may yet face criminal indictment, if not by the Justice Department, then by a Georgia district attorney investigating his attempts to strong-arm the state’s electoral process.

A lot can happen between now and Election Day to upset Republicans’ expectations. Should the Supreme Court, as expected, overturn Roe vs Wade, in effect rendering women of childbearing age vassals of the state, voters could turn strongly against them. Many Democratic strategists favor making the 2022 election a referendum on abortion rights, an issue strong enough to overcome voter frustration over inflation and gasoline prices.

“Give us the House and two more senators,” writer Josh Marshall suggests Democrats should say, “and we will make Roe law in January 2023.”

Not that the Republicans have put forward serious plans for dealing with economic woes. Given the customary level of voter superstition that holds the sitting president and his party responsible for things over which they have almost no control—inflation and high energy costs are rampant worldwide—they may not think they need to.

But regardless of what happens in November, the real impediments to making MAGA daydreams come true are the Senate filibuster—the very thing that has stymied the Biden administration’s legislative goals--and equally decisive, the presidential veto.

“No one at the White House will say this out loud, certainly,” veteran political reporter Matt Bai writes in the Washington Post, “but the fact is that losing control of the House (and possibly the Senate) in November would instantly make the presidency a more manageable job.”

Certain aggravating congressional Democrats would lose their megaphones. Also, the last two Democratic presidents to lose control of Congress in mid-term elections were Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010. Confronting Rep. Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” Clinton issued 17 vetoes over the next two years, including most significantly in this context, a GOP bill banning so-called “partial-birth abortions.”

Clinton also faced-down a Republican-led government shutdown in the winter of 1995-96 and ended up being re-elected easily the following November.

For his part, President Obama too fought off numerous Republican attempts to repeal his signature Affordable Care Act and won easy re-election. Give these MAGA cranks “a couple of years to show us what kind of government they have in mind,” Matt Bai thinks, "and Biden will look like Abraham Lincoln by comparison.”

My own view is that although he really can’t say so until 2023, Joe Biden probably won’t run for re-election, and shouldn’t. Putting Trumpism on life support is a sufficient lifetime political accomplishment. It’s long-past time for generational change at the top of the Democratic Party.

Do Republicans Really Want To End School Shootings? Not That Much

Before the next mass shooting, which is likely to occur tomorrow, someone should mention what is most obvious and disturbing about America's endless gun safety debate. Congressional Republicans are unwilling to restrict their constituents' access to assault weapons, even though they know that means many more innocent children (and adults) will die.

Or to put it even more bluntly, Republicans block sensible gun legislation because they are perfectly willing to sacrifice little kids in order to protect the most extreme interpretation of "Second Amendment rights." When Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). asked at a recent hearing whether his Republican colleagues were there to protect "the kids or the killers," they fumed in outrage. But they had no honest answer to his question.

Instead, Republicans offer a continuous stream of irrelevant and pointless "solutions" that will do nothing to stem the tidal wave of bloodshed. They yammer about mental health, as if they've ever been willing to fund adequate access to psychological services — and as if the mentally ill are a principal source of gun violence, which is assuredly untrue. They vow to "harden schools," and to check the locks on school doors every week, as if that would prevent a shooter from getting inside — or stop a shooter who lurks outside a school building when classes end.

They will pontificate ad nauseam about anything and everything except the kind of gun laws that could mitigate the slaughter.

While the Republicans and their sponsors in the gun lobby try to distract us from plain facts, the prevention of mass shootings is not mysterious or arcane. Exceptionally clear data show that banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines tends to prevent mass shootings.

When President Bill Clinton and congressional Democrats passed an assault-weapons ban in 1994, mass shootings declined; when that ban expired 10 years later, mass shootings increased. Millions of those weapons of war were already in private hands when the ban commenced, so the decline in mass shootings was gradual — but when the ban ended, skyrocketing sales of the AR-15 and similar rifles initiated a very robust resumption of carnage.

Last year, a team of researchers at Northwestern University's School of Medicine again examined the history of the assault-weapons ban. They eliminated a source of confusion about the law by looking only at mass shootings — incidents resulting in the deaths of four or more people — rather than all gun deaths, as prior studies had done.

According to Dr. Lori Ann Post, who led that 2021 study (and who happens to belong to the National Rifle Association), their review found that "if you prevent the access to assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and semi-automatic or rapid-fire guns, it prevents the actual incident itself... people don't even go out and do a mass shooting in the absence of an assault rifle."

The study found that during the ban, its provisions prevented at least 11 mass shootings and that had it continued, another 30 such incidents would have been prevented. Post also remarked that "purchase of the assault weapon is often the final step in the preparation and execution of a mass shooting," an observation confirmed again this week when a perp bought his AR-15 just hours before going into a Tulsa hospital to kill his doctor and three others.

The Republican deniers may scoff at the 1994 ban, citing cherry-picked data to claim it didn't work. They may point out, correctly, that mass shootings represent a very small percentage of gun deaths. But in the meantime, we have seen several major industrial countries that legislated weapons bans after horrific school shootings and similar bloody tragedies.

The results of that gigantic, worldwide social experiment are undeniable: Those countries suffer a tiny fraction of the mass shootings that now occur here constantly.

Bear in mind that other industrialized nations endure all the same conflicts that afflict us. Their populations include platoons of alienated boys, frustrated men, hateful racists and seething lunatics of all sorts. Yet in those places, dangerous men don't have easy access to weapons that kill many people very quickly.

So, let's stop pretending that we don't know how to stop mass shootings — and let's also stop pretending that Republican legislators who oppose gun regulation actually care about saving our kids from those atrocities. They don't.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

'In Great Spirits,' Clinton Expected To Leave Hospital On Sunday

Washington (AFP) - Former President Bill Clinton will spend another night at a hospital in California being treated for an infection, his spokesman said Saturday.

Clinton, 75, who led the United States from 1993 to 2001, was admitted Tuesday evening to the UCI Medical Center in Irvine, south of Los Angeles, with a non-Covid-related blood infection.

Spokesman Angel Urena said on Twitter that Clinton will remain at the hospital overnight "to continue to receive IV antibiotics before an expected discharge tomorrow."

Clinton is "in great spirits and has been spending time with family, catching up with friends, and watching college football," Urena tweeted.

The New York Times, quoting an aide, reported the former president developed a urinary tract infection that turned into sepsis.

Sepsis is an extreme bodily reaction to infection that affects 1.7 million people in America every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It kills 270,000 of those infected every year.

The infection was the latest health scare for America's 42nd president. In 2004, at age 58, he underwent a quadruple bypass operation after doctors found signs of extensive heart disease.

Six years later he had stents implanted in his coronary artery.

Former President Clinton Hospitalized With Non-COVID Blood Infection

Bill Clinton was hospitalized on Tuesday with an infection that is not COVID-19, according to multiple reports. Clinton, 75, was admitted to University of California, Irvine Medical Center, CNN reported. He was feeling better when the news broke around 9 p.m. ET, according to a statement from Clinton's office “He is on the mend, in good spirits, and is incredibly thankful to the doctors, nurses, and staff providing him with excellent care," the statement read. Now 75, he is being treated for sepsis that originally spread from a urinary tract infection. The 42nd president was previously hospitalized in 2010 to fix a heart problem. He underwent the procedure at New...

We Still Don't Know The Truth About Kavanaugh’s Shady Finances

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

By joining his fellow conservatives on the Supreme Court in declining to block one of the country's most restrictive abortion laws, a Texas statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy, Justice Brett Kavanaugh made good on his unspoken pledge to demolish Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh's actions could change the fabric of this country for decades, and empower radicals within the Republican Party to strip away more rights of Americans.

Against that dystopian backdrop let's not forget two crucial historic facts. Kavanaugh lied his way through his confirmation hearings. Facing multiple and credible allegations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh lied about witnesses; he lied about corroboration; he lied about friendships; he lied about parties. He also lied about an array of other topics, including state drinking ages, vomiting, his yearbook, and his accusers. Kavanaugh lied about his grandfather, federal judges, warrantless wiretaps, and stolen emails.

Second, some deep-pocketed patron, or patrons, over the years have clearly covered Kavanaugh's personal finances. Someone erased all of the many financial pitfalls he faced, including tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, while setting up him for a luxurious lifestyle well beyond what he could afford on the salary of a federal judge. We still don't know which benefactors paid for Kavanaugh's $92,000 country club initiation fee in 2016 for the Chevy Chase Club while he was making $225,000 a year, had two children in private school, and was saddled with the most debt of his life, approximately $100,000.

The staggering country club fee, which Kavanaugh plainly could not cover himself, represented the most egregious hole in Kavanaugh's make-no-sense financial disclosure made during his nomination. For instance, in 2006, he bought a $1.2 million home in a tony suburb of Washington, D.C. and made tens of thousands of dollars of upgrades while earning $175,000 and sitting on a modest savings account.

The disclosures should have been a huge red flag for the press. "The personal finances of Supreme Court nominees regularly come under scrutiny during the congressional vetting process," the Washington Post reported in 2018. And Kavanaugh's finances were by far the most befuddling of any Supreme Court nominee in modern history. But the press mostly yawned through the story.

The Post actually published one of the most detailed examinations of his finances during the time of Kavanaugh's nomination. The report though, raised no serious questions of wrongdoing, and was at times openly sympathetic towards Kavanaugh: "He has in many ways stayed true to his intent, following the Jesuit mantra of service above self instilled in him by the elite Catholic high school he attended in suburban Washington."

The Post piece also made sure only to quote friends of Kavanaugh, as they ran interference for the nominee. ("He's not the type of guy who does things to keep up with the Joneses.") One buddy told the Post that Kavanaugh joined the extravagantly expensive Chevy Chase Club because it was conveniently located near his home. Not a single Democrat or independent financial analyst was quoted questioning the obvious inconsistencies in Kavanaugh's filings.

Why didn't the Beltway press go all Whitewater on Kavanaugh? For years the D.C. media, amplifying GOP attacks, couldn't sleep at night knowing Bill and Hillary Clinton might have made money on a land deal that had crooked local ties. (Fact: They lost money on Whitewater.) Breathlessly covering every hearing, every allegation, every Republican leak, the hyperactive Beltway media treated the story as Watergate-meets-Iran Contra; the very idea that a Democratic politician may have benefited financially from some inside chicanery was presented as one of the most important and compelling news stories of the decade.

Suffice to say that if Bill Clinton had joined an exclusive country club while governor of Arkansas, which he clearly did not pay for, journalists would have camped out on the story for months and excavated it without pause.

A middling jurist who immediately embarrassed himself when nominated by Trump by claiming no president had ever "consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination," Kavanaugh has always had the earmarks of a willing suck-up; someone who was cultivated and advanced by right-wing forces not for his judicial intellect, but because he's willing to do what he's told. Like help overturn Roe v. Wade.

With so little media attention paid to Kavanaugh's massive expenditures over the years, we still don't have any answers. We don't know if he's operating on the Supreme Court under a constant conflict-of-interest cloud, because we don't know which wealthy forces have aided and abetted his rise.

One possible, unconfirmed explanation for how Kavanaugh's debt magically evaporated, how he bought a house he could not afford, and joined one of the most exclusive and expensive country clubs on the East Coast while living on the salary of a federal employee? Kavanaugh's rich father secretly gifted him lots of money over the years. (Kavanaugh's father drew a large salary working for a cosmetics trade group and walked away with a $13 million payout in 2005.)

Kavanaugh and the White House likely wanted to avoid that Daddy Warbucks storyline during the confirmation hearing though, since the jurist was presented as a hard-working, aw-shucks Everyman who worked his way up to the highest echelons of the American judiciary.

And guess what? As Kavanaugh does his best to outlaw choice, the press has never tried to confirm any key facts surrounding the endless unanswered questions of Kavanaugh's finances and his miracle $92,000 country club fee.

Why The Press Urged Cuomo To Resign — But Not Trump

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Rushing in to inform readers that in the wake of damning investigation into his history of sexual harassment, New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is no longer suited for office, the New York Times editorial page waited barely 24 hours to reach its sweeping conclusion — "Governor Cuomo, You Should Resign." [EDITOR'S NOTE: Cuomo offered his resignation on August 10.]

"Regardless of what may happen in a court of law, the governor has only one conscionable option left: He should resign," the Times announced. "If Mr. Cuomo cares for the well-being of the state and its citizens as much as he has said he does over the years, he needs to do the right thing and step down."

The Times was unequivocal. What made the clarion call so jarring was it came from the same editorial page that refused for four years to demand Trump resign from office — to conclude, as they did regarding Cuomo, that stepping down remained Trump's "only conscionable option left," and urging him to do the "right thing."

Trump ran a criminal enterprise out of the White House, which everyone at the Times understood, and still the paper could not summon the courage to call for his resignation. Yet the Times sprinted into action in order to insist a Democrat step down? The contrast is stunning even if you agree, as so many Democrats did, that Cuomo had to leave office.

What explains the radically different standards the Times uses for announcing sitting Republican and Democratic office holders are no longer fit to serve? How does the Times, after refusing to weigh in on Trump's fitness for office for four years, announce Cuomo must resign less than a day after the results of the New York investigation was announced?

Here's the larger context: The media love to call for the resignation of Democrats. Republicans though, not so much.

In the 1990's, dozens of major newspapers loudly demanded a Democratic president step down for the good of the country. That president's sin? He lied about an extramarital affair.

"He should resign because he has resolutely failed — and continues to fail — the most fundamental test of any president: to put his nation's interests first," USA Today announced unequivocally of Bill Clinton in September 1998. "Bill Clinton should resign,'" echoed the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He should resign because his repeated, reckless deceits have dishonored his presidency beyond repair."

When Republicans tried to drive a Democratic president from office for lying about his personal life, media elites couldn't wait to tell Clinton to get lost. (None of those same papers told Trump to do the same thing.)

To be clear, the Times was not one of the dailies that demanded Clinton resign, so they managed to avoid that glaring hypocrisy. Still, we see a clear pattern in terms of media resignation calls made for Clinton and Cuomo, and crickets for Trump.

It's not like the Times didn't have endless, obvious opportunities to demand that Trump step down. Most recently, it would have been for the blood-thirsty mob he incited on January 6 after trying to use all levers of the government to overthrow a free and fair election last November. For trying to engineer a coup, plain and simple.

Or last year, when Trump refused to protect America from the Covid-19 virus invasion, and then made America's pandemic response worse every day by constantly lying to the public about science.

"Any CEO who was deemed responsible for allowing a massive tragedy to unfold would be immediately called upon to resign or be fired, even if he or she were six months from retirement," noted former Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart in a CNN column last summer, shaming newspapers for remaining silent regarding Trump's much-needed departure.

Or in 2019, when Trump openly colluded with a foreign government to dig up dirt on his political opponent, while offering up the assistance of the Department of Justice. He hid transcripts of presidential calls on secret servers in hopes of covering up the collusion, and publicly threatened to expose the crucial whistleblower, insinuating that he or she should be executed. He's also urged that a Democratic member of Congress be arrested for treason.

Or the Times should have insisted Trump leave office based on his chronically deranged behavior, which made him categorically unfit to serve, such as being a habitual liar who shredded our public discourse. Trump also lined his pockets while serving. He coddled murderous dictators. Spent his day wallowing in racist attacks, lobbed vicious, personal attacks against the press, and regularly inspired white nationalist gunmen to unleash murderous attacks.

By not taking a public stand, newspaper leaders like those at the Times sent a loud, collective message that what Trump was doing to America did not represent a looming crisis; that the country could easily weather the storm and no drastic action was needed. Note that in 2019, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said he didn't really view Trump as being an unprecedented figure in American history, and likened him to Edwin Edwards, a controversial Louisiana Democratic governor from the 1970s and 1980s. (The two men have almost nothing in common.)

It's true that calls for resignation certainly would not have forced Trump from office. They would however, have helped change the national debate and more accurately reflected the crisis our country faced with a tyrannical liar at the helm. And quite simply, the calls would been the right thing to do.

The Times was right in urging Cuomo to resign. Too bad the paper of record failed to make that same obvious demand while Trump was shaming the Oval Office.