The only thing worse than staging a Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump—giving the big bully a national stage to whine about being persecuted and put on a pro-wrestling extravaganza—would be not staging a trial, and letting the would-be American dictator get away clean.
That's Congress's dilemma. Show trial or no trial.
Duty calls. There's really no choice.
Over at our place, Boss Trump's departure from Washington on Air Force One began the best 24 hours of the year, if not the decade. First, the ultimate Florida Man flew off to the happy golfing-ground of celebrity thugs and deposed dictators. O.J. Simpson, Al Capone, Richard Nixon, Cuba's Bautista and Nicaragua's Somoza all settled there, among others. The boulevards are crowded with South American drug lords.
As Diane Roberts wrote in the Washington Post "reality is negotiable" in the Sunshine State. "Trump still won't admit he lost the election, and he still denies any responsibility for inciting the mob that looted, pillaged and desecrated the Capitol, leaving four rioters and a police officer dead. In Florida, he won't have to." Trump's taking up residence is a Carl Hiassen novel waiting to be written.
Later that same evening, the coach's daughter and I watched our Arkansas Razorbacks in a comeback win against Auburn. We've been watching Razorback basketball for almost as long as we've been married, a very long time. It's a bonding ritual.
Next morning we reported to the university hospital for our Covid-19 vaccinations. A huge relief, if you haven't had yours.
As I say, pretty much a perfect 24 hours.
If he'd just stay put Trump could cheat at golf and squat on his golden toilet for the rest of his life as far as I'm concerned. But you know he can't live without publicity. Absent the crowd, Trump doesn't exist. This is a guy who used to call New York tabloids impersonating his own press agent to brag about the starlets he was banging.
Publicity and conflict, that is. Without enemies, Trump is nothing. Life to him is a zero sum game. If he isn't humiliating somebody, then he must be a loser. And that way, as his niece Mary Trump has written, lies psychological dissolution. Being him must be hell these days.
Nevertheless, try him the Senate must, regardless of the odds of conviction. To do otherwise would be to wave off the most consequential crime against American democracy since the Civil War. That it was an incompetently conceived and poorly executed coup attempt can't disguise that's exactly what it was: an attempt to overthrow the US government by force.
The mob was chanting "Hang Mike Pence!" within an hour of Trump giving them their marching orders. During his speech at the so-called "Save America" rally, Trump emitted an encyclopedic list of lies claiming election fraud, and then urged the crowd to march to the Capitol to "fight like hell," or else "you're not going to have a country anymore."
As Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, put it in announcing her vote for impeachment, "the President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack." Former Attorney General William Barr called his actions "inexcusable."
Senate Republicans who alibi that it would be "unconstitutional" to impeach a former president are simply hunting cover. Sure he's already gone, but a secondary effect of conviction would be to disqualify Trump from ever running for office—and that would certainly be worth the effort.
Not trying Trump would also embolden any future would-be president-for-life to run wild with no fear of consequences. So it simply must be done. The "unconstitutional" gambit is GOP Senators fearful of MAGA cultists turning against them in future primary elections.
Florida's own Sen. Marco Rubio went on Fox News to warn that "We already have a flaming fire in this country, and it's like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire."
Appeasement isn't how we've traditionally dealt with terrorists in this country, Senator. But nice try. And good luck running against Ivanka.
Meanwhile, what nobody knows is what kinds of evidence House managers will produce at trial to make Trump's guilt even clearer. Some of these MAGA goons facing serious prison time could be motivated to start talking. It's already clear that the mob didn't gather by chance.
Rejected nationwide by a large majority, and twice by Georgia voters, Trumpism has never been weaker. A well-conducted impeachment trial could be exactly what's needed to finish it off.
And if not? Well, state and federal prosecutors in several jurisdictions are looking at Trump for financial and tax crimes, not to mention what the U.S. criminal code calls "seditious conspiracy," i.e. the use of "force to prevent, hinder, or delay, the execution of any law of the United States."
Works for me.