“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott
I am continually reminded of this phrase as we listen to the back and forth between Democrats and Republicans over President Trump and his possible impeachment. What tangled webs of lies and half-truths are spun before us. There are charges and countercharges. Who is telling us the true facts? Is there one honest man? When, if ever, will we know the real story?
I, of course, have my own opinion. I may be completely wrong, but this is my analysis of how we got into the present morass of deceit and name-calling.
First, let me define the word “establishment.” The term refers to those highly-educated, but not always wise, Democratic and Republican partisans who are involved in the government of the United States, either by direct action or by influence. These people may be politicians, lobbyists, civil servants, or noteworthy observers/commentators in academia and the media. Some of them are dishonest charlatans, but most of them are patriots who wish the very best for our country.
Many members of the establishment were horrified by the nomination, campaign, and election of Donald J. Trump. They considered him a gangster-like, somewhat deranged, political loose cannon – a danger to the nation. Because of this perceived danger, some people in the bureaucracy, including a few persons highly placed in the CIA, FBI, Justice and State Departments, believed themselves to be morally justified in taking steps to prevent Trump’s election. It was a perfect example of the old maxim, “the end justifies the means,” the end being the protection of the republic; and it led to an effort, financed in part by the Clinton campaign, to gather “dirt” on Trump (the Steele Dossier). Much of the later discredited “dirt” was scarfed up in unsavory interactions with corrupt Ukrainian operatives.
After Trump was elected, the focus shifted to an all-out attempt to remove him from office. The Steele Dossier was discredited, so the President’s enemies now charged him with colluding with the Russians during the 2016 campaign. The Russians certainly interfered in the 2016 elections, and most of their relatively small and ineffectual effort was on Trump’s behalf. There were even rumors suggesting that Putin possessed compromising information on Trump and that our President was under his thumb. Many Trump haters actually believed this to be true. By machination, a special prosecutor was appointed, and two years of investigation followed. Finally, the President was cleared of collusion.
But Trump’s enemies were not ready to give up, and the next move was to hit him with a somewhat nebulous accusation that he had obstructed the investigation into the now disproven Russian collusion. The Mueller investigation failed to make a formal charge of such obstruction, but this did not deter members of the House Judiciary Committee from pursuing the matter. Then, as supporters of an obstruction investigation struggled to gain traction, a whistleblower came forward to assert that Trump had improperly pressured the president of the Ukraine, and perhaps others, to investigate past activities of Joseph Biden, past Vice-President and potential Democratic nominee in the 2020 Presidential campaign. Nancy Pelosi, Chairperson of the House of Representative, used this new charge to open an informal impeachment inquiry to be conducted by Adam Schiff and his House Intelligence Committee.
The whistleblower’s accusations of wrongdoing by the President were largely based on his conversation with President Zelensky of the Ukraine, and thus far any evidence of malfeasance appears flimsy to the point of absurdity. A transcript of the conversation between Trump and Zelensky was produced, and there was no clear indication of wrongdoing. Perhaps it was foolish for Trump to bring up the name of a political opponent while talking with a foreign leader, but, considering past activities by Biden and son in the Ukraine, there was nothing wrong about it. There was no obvious pressure or evidence of a quid pro quo. Of course, Democratic House members and Presidential candidates support impeachment and wish to pronounce Trump guilty without benefit of trial; but unless other damning information about the President is revealed, the impeachment inquiry is a total waste of time and only serves to further divide the nation.
President Trump is a tough talking political in-fighter. Many think him arrogant. He exchanges insults with his political foes almost every day, and he has ugly little names for opposition leaders – Pocahuntus, Sleepy Joe, etc. Often he is downright nasty. Yet, beneath that hard exterior I am convinced that the President yearns for respect. A few days ago, as Trump was briefing press members at the United Nations, I actually began to feel sorry for the man. He went through a list of the heads-of-state and other leaders he had talked to during his stay in New York. He is a veritable human dynamo. How could he have had substantive discussions with so many people in so short a time? As Trump talked to the press, he described progress on being made on trade matters and other international concerns. Finally, he took his first question from a reporter, and that reporter ignored the subject of the President’s brief and harangued Trump about the Zelensky phone call. Trump appeared genuinely discouraged and upset by the attack. The economy is doing well, progress is being made in trade talks, employment is at an all-time high, and we are not involved in any major military conflict – yet the press continues to demean the President and give him no credit. The attacks become extremely tiresome. No wonder Trump disparages the mainstream media and seeks solace by conducting rallies among his supporters across the land. He rages against his enemies in a most un-Presidential manner, and he thereby gives his opponents more material with which to assault him.
I do not believe that Donald Trump is the evil man that many of his opponents think him to be. He is rough and often uncouth, and he sometimes says foolish or untrue things; but I think he wants to be a truly outstanding President, and he continually strives for what he thinks is best for this nation. I approve of many of his policies and applaud some of his achievements. I am particularly impressed by his success in reviving the economy and his effort to restore some balance to our trade with other countries, particularly China. Work on trade relationships is extremely difficult and long overdue. There are other concerns that are yet to be addressed by the Trump Administration, and I believe wonderful things could be achieved if both parties (and the press) would declare a truce and bring a stop to the most pernicious forms of political warfare. Working together, we could build an even greater America.
Even as I write this, however, new accusations of lying and corruption are being hurled across the political divide. So much dirt is being thrown that, when it is over, the National Mall will need to be re-sod.
Are Trump, Giuliani, Biden, and Schiff the evil manipulators their enemies describe, or are their accusers the guilty ones? Perhaps all of them belong in Federal prison. When will the truth be revealed? Unfortunately, considering the sad state of journalism, I’m not certain that the real story will ever come out.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . .”