What I began to fear nearly five years ago, as the Orange Avatar descended down his golden escalator within his eponymous tower announcing his intent to run for president, has happened.
Drip by drip, our sensitivities erode. Cut by a thousand cuts, the nerves of our consciences fray, and are then severed. We awake, and what would be unacceptable- unbelievable- a few short years ago now barely register on the Richter Scale of Right and Wrong.
For those of us who have resisted and have clung, albeit tenuously, to high ground during the downward spiral away from what we innocently believed were values, sanctified if not sacred, impeachment proceedings have finally and mercifully begun.
Mere days after the Mueller Report was laid to rest, with Robert Mueller strongly suggesting that there were at least ten instances of Trump obstructing justice, The Beast resumed his slouch. Alas, the DOJ position is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, so Trump, seemingly emboldened, was at it again.
Per his own transcript of a 7/25/19 phone conversation with the the Ukrainian president, Trump, at least to many thinking people, made it clear that Ukraine’s receiving of nearly 400 million for armaments with which to defend against Russia’s ongoing aggression was contingent on Ukraine declaring an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter (ostensibly because Hunter sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas producer, and Joe had sought the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to protect his son.) At no time had Ukraine seen any evidence in the matter. Thus the birth of the now infamous “quid pro quo.” You want arms? We want dirt. Does this constitute bribery? Extortion? Abuse of power? Sure looks like it, all of which are impeachable offenses. Biden, at the time, was Trump’s leading opponent heading into the 2020 election. Coincidence? Yeah, sure.
And thus began the next chapter. A whistleblower, still unknown to most of us (Trump wants him or her outed) alerts the Inspector General within the State Department. The dominoes fall. Witnesses, primarily career diplomats and ambassadors, emerge. Corroboration of wrong doing mounts. Fast forward to 11/15/19. Maria Yovanovitch, ousted ambassador to Ukraine, (having been bounced because Trump and cronies believed she was trying to undermine the specious investigation of the Bidens) is called as a witness. Clearly, she is a dedicated and patriotic public servant. She spoke articulately and with marked sincerity, and could not conceal her hurt for having her character impugned. What were this woman’s sins?
She committed the sin of doing exactly as she was sworn to do. She upheld the Constitution and took on corrupt interests within Ukraine, raising the ire of Trump and his personal stooge Rudy Giuliani. A smear campaign was launched, attacking her fitness for a job she performed superlatively well for 33 years. She was a marked woman. In the phone conversation transcript, Trump tells Ukraine’s president she is, “Bad news,” and “Will go through some bad things”. A threat? A physical threat? We can only conjecture.
Is this how far the presidential bar has been lowered? Tragically, no. It descends further.
During the hearing, as Yovanovitch is testifying, Trump is concurrently tweeting in real time. “Everywhere she went turned bad. She started off in Somalia; how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian president spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him.”
Like a malignant Greek Chorus of one, Trump maligns and intimidates the witness during her testimony in real time. Another impeachable offense, literally committed during the impeachment hearing! Scant years ago, if this appeared in fiction one could not suspend disbelief. But it happened, and one would expect the incredulity and outrage to be universal.
Perhaps The Beast no longer slouches toward Bethlehem, but has arrived, victorious, met with nary a whimper to be heard, let alone a bang.