Brooks lists reasons why impeachment means trouble

David Brooks has a column today headlined “Yes, Trump Is Guilty, but Impeachment Is a Mistake,” with the subhed “This political brawl will leave Trump victorious.”

Yep. That’s quite likely. That’s why this is a bad place to be, if you want to get rid of Donald Trump.

Here’s the list of reasons Brooks offers:

  • “This will probably achieve nothing.” If you mean, he won’t be removed from office, you’re almost certain right. Two presidents in our history have been impeached, and neither was removed from office. There is no reason to think this time will be different — especially if you listen to the alternative-reality nonsense coming from the mouths of Senate Republicans.


    David Brooks

  • “This is completely elitist.” Brooks means inherently, in that you put Trump’s fate in the hands of 100 senators instead of the voters. But elitism comes into this another way: Some of the people out there saying Trump hasn’t done anything wrong actually think that. They are low-information people who subscribe to the “They all do it” school. You sort of have to have above-average understanding of the norms of diplomacy, politics, and presidential behavior to understand how stunningly unprecedented this is, and understand that if this isn’t impeachable, it becomes hard to imagine what would be.
  • “This is not what the country wants to talk about.” Well, no, it’s not what I want to talk about, either. I want to talk about why Joe Biden must be the Democratic nominee, and must be elected. Of course, if you mean the country wants to talk about football and reality TV, you lose me. I don’t feel obliged to respect apathy.
  • “Democrats are playing Trump’s game.” Oh, yeah. Indeed. The more divided the country is, the more this parasite thrives.
  • “This process will increase public cynicism.” Yeah, maybe, among the uninformed. And that’s a lot of people.
  • “This could embed Trumpism within the G.O.P.” This is an interesting argument, and it makes some sense. It goes this way: Electoral defeat will discredit Trumpism among Republicans (if it doesn’t just crush the GOP permanently). This will harden Trump’s position as being at the heart of the party, with all the loyalists gathered ’round him.
  • “This could distort the Democratic primary process.” Yep, and in unpredictable ways.

Of course, in the end, if I were a House member — of either party, or (my preference) no party — I don’t think I would feel like I had an alternative. Sure, you know he’s not going to be removed from office, and given that we’ve seen over and over that his supporters are impervious to reason, it will greatly increase his chances of being re-elected.

But the Constitution charges the House with a responsibility. And it’s hard for me to see how the House walks away from that responsibility, in light of what Trump has done. You can’t just act like, yeah, it’s OK to do that and still be president. You have to say, “No!”

This is a terrible moment to be a House member. And a worse moment for the country….

163 thoughts on “Brooks lists reasons why impeachment means trouble

  1. bud

    Perhaps a month ago these arguments had some merit. But now each and every one of these points is obsolete.

    “This will probably achieve nothing.” Trump probably won’t be removed from office but if the senate can muster a simple majority that speaks volumes. To be on record as a president that a majority of both houses of congress decided had committed impeachable offenses is very important. Besides if even more comes out, which could happen during an impeachment inquiry, perhaps 67 senators could be persuaded. Brooks misses that possibility.
    “This is completely elitist.” That doesn’t even make sense. This is about our duly elected members of congress doing their job. That’s not elitist. That is what representative democracy is about. Heck you could say that about ANY issue. Is it elitist to pass a budget funding the military?
    “This is not what the country wants to talk about.” That statement is a truism. Of course no one wants to talk about this. People don’t want to talk about a cancer diagnosis either. It’s an uncomfortable topic. But it’s what is necessary.
    “This process will increase public cynicism.” Please. That ship sailed a long, long time ago. Public cynicism likely INCREASES if congress DOESN’T impeach. Does Brooks ever talk to Democrats? Democrats are furious and might stay away from the polls in droves is congress acts in a feckless, timid manner by taking direction from the false equivalency crowd.
    “This could embed Trumpism within the G.O.P.” Where has Brooks been?? The GOP IS the party of Trump. There really is no Trump party in any relevant form without Trump. The party of Bush, McCain and Robert Dole is looong gone. Brooks is in denial to suggest otherwise. What a naïve thing to say? Clearly Brooks has been on a deserted island to make a statement this absurd.
    “This could distort the Democratic primary process.” Yep, it sure could. But at this point NOT impeaching is a far, far worse problem for the Democrats. Of course the stuff about Biden is going to have an effect on the primary process. But again, that ship has sailed. Biden will now be under intense scrutiny. But that is apart from the impeachment process.

    The bottom line is this: Not impeaching is far more damaging to the Democratic party than impeaching. Brooks column is about a month out of date.

    1. David T

      Saying the GOP is the party of Trump is like saying the Democrat is the party of Hillary. Both would lead to one thing, short lines at the polls.

      1. Barry

        Disagree. Plenty of politicians across the country that were Democrats didn’t embrace Hillary Clinton at all and didn’t fear her- And knew she wouldn’t run against them or fight them. Hillary also embraced most of the longstanding Democratic viewpoints on issues.

        Republicans legislators are almost exclusively terrified of going against trump. He also has driven the party sideways into a tariff supporting, protectionist stance that most every elected republican would have vehemently hated only 4 years ago.

  2. Bill

    That’s disheartening.I much preferred today’s NYT ‘ editorial board piece,”Why the Trump Impeachment Inquiry Is the Only Option”.Everyone should read that one.It’s a clear,concise explanation of this sad affair.tRump stinks.
    Here’s something for the weekend…

  3. Pat

    I read that Trump’s re-election campaign has already increased by $13 million since the impeachment inquiry announcement.

  4. Mark Stewart

    I think I have said all along that Trump will be impeached. This is who he is and who he as always been. He’s been unethical and self-aggradizing his entire life. Donald Trump will force impeachment – because at the end of the day he has always been a failure, however he tries to spin it.

    Will he be convicted in the Senate? I didn’t think so after the Mueller Report nightmare. But now that Trump has himself provided the confirmation of his un-Constitutional – almost treasonous – behavior I’d say that it is the likely outcome. The GOP in the Senate will stand firm and stoic and dread the spotlight. It won’t be anything but chaotic and ugly. And then they will vote. Most, but not all, will uphold their Constitutional oaths. If not, what are we as a nation?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’ve seen partisanship do some really horrible things to people’s brains over the last 25 or 30 years, but nothing like what Trumpism is doing to Republicans’ brains at this moment in our history.

      To hear Republicans who have seen the transcript and the whistleblower complaint say there’s nothing there exceeds anything I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s truly a case of calling black white, and white black. I’ve never seen plain reality denied to this extent.

      I don’t see how we can continue to have a republic if people are going to behave this way. When facts don’t matter, what hope is there for the future?

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Thumbs up.

              Remember Strother Martin, as Liberty’s psychotically giggling sidekick? One of his better roles, even though he’s better known from Cool Hand Luke…

              1. Bill

                I forget how many times I saw,’Cool Hand Luke”.I saw that one on Main Street when you could sit through the movies over and over…

      1. Mark Stewart

        Most of them know the reality, but they don’t know if the base does, so they cower. Do you hear anyone actually defending Trump, however? I mean besides the rabid ones who rant and rage all evening on FOX?

        This is a one step at a time. The Democrats first needed to reach an internal consensus. Then the Congress will need to deliberate. Then some Republicans will peel away from Trump. Then when the Congress votes some more will stand up. Only then will any GOP Senators say boo against Trump. They are all politicians after all, they understand the safety of leading from behind. Poor Lindsey Graham – which will he chose when he must make his mark?

        1. Harry Harris

          My biases influence my conclusions. They influence my decisions and commitments. In the case of Trumpism and the recent Republican party, their biases and perceived self-interest is dictating their perception of facts. That is dangerous to the country and to the development of our citizenry – and devastating to any sense of nationhood.

      2. David T

        How is this any different than Democrats who still say Hillary has done nothing wrong, or the Clinton’s period? The only thing that has changed is the body count has slowed down.

          1. David T

            Just the ones where there were two bullet holes in the back of the head.

            Brad enjoyed The House of Cards series on Netflix, if you aren’t familiar with it it’s a documentary about the Clinton years.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “How is this any different…?”

          It is completely different from anything that has ever happened before in U.S. history. There is absolutely nothing that comes anywhere close to it, ever. Never before has a U.S. president been caught pressuring a foreign leader to help him take down his chief political rival here at home.

          I can’t think of anything that compares to it.

          There IS no “what about?”

          1. bud

            Nixon did something similar with the North Vietnamese to help win election in 68. People’s memories are short. However, Nixon was not yet president so the point stands.

            1. Pat

              The American people would have elected the devil to get out of
              Vietnam. As soon as Saigon fell, impeachment went into full swing.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, we had pulled out some time before. But South Vietnam fell in the spring of 1975.

                  The north sort of took their time, marshaling their forces I suppose, before launch the final offensive.

                  But yeah, as soon as we pulled the rug out from under the South, the North’s victory was inevitable…

        2. Harry Harris

          There are such Democrats. I know very few of them. I’ve been critical of Bill since before he left office. I opposed Hillary for the nomination in 2008 and 2016. There’s no equivalence.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I, of course, take a back seat to no one in criticizing Bill.

            The editorial page I ran was tied for first in the country to call on him to resign, back in ’98. I think The Orlando Sentinel did it the same day we did…

            Now, of course, I’d be glad to have Bill, or Richard Nixon for that matter, as my president. Anyone who has ever served in that office — perhaps even Andy Jackson — would be an improvement over what we have…

            1. Harry Harris

              My biggest irk early-on about Bill C was his public apology to the opposition for furnishing them just what they needed – scandal. He never apologized to me for putting at jeopardy the things that I had worked to help bring about. His Machiavellian tactics, personal lack of discipline, and seeming self-entitlement gave us George W Bush – despite his denial of responsibility. In a similar vein, Hillary has been sloppy, unwise, and personally uncautious, giving us Donald J Trump as President. Both Clintons showed skill at governing, but lacked the true humility to avoid falling to their lower angels. I hope each personally and privately has come to some honesty and repentance for their failings.

              1. Barry

                Contrary to David’s assertion above, I don’t consider myself a Democrat (or a Republican anymore)

                And I didn’t vote for bill or Hillary Clinton. I didn’t vote for OBama either.

                And I sure didn’t vote for trump.

      3. Barry

        I heard Tom Ridge (former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and Homeland Security Director) this morning. He didn’t say he supported or was against impeachment but he said the transcript was very problematic.

        He stated his biggest concern was that with all the issues we currently have with Ukraine (and the problems they face) that the idea of Trump even mentioning Joe Biden (or any American) was stunning to him. He said that a President was thinking about one political opponent with all the serious issues Ukraine faces was very revealing about Trump’s approach and he feared for the national security of the nation if that was how distracted Trump was right now.

  5. Mr. Smith

    Michael Gerson put it better in his column from yesterday, where he wrote that “Impeachment may be inadvisable … especially if it increases Trump’s chances of reelection. But it matters like a fate, not a choice.”

    Gerson continues: “Trump’s role is to push and push until he meets firm resistance to his abuse of power — something he has rarely experienced.” “He has spent so many years in the trash heap of corruption that he can no longer recognize the stench.” Then turning to his enablers, including in particular those in the Senate, Gerson writes, “Because Trump tests boundaries of morality and legality, his defenders are, in effect, calling on Americans to ratify those changes.” And as a result, they have become “bodyguards of a petty, cruel, lawless, would-be autocrat.” If that’s how they wish to be remembered, then they should go ahead and oppose this so-called president’s removal.

    1. David T

      So what Gerson is saying is the Democrats got nothing so they just need to get reporters to twist things around so it appears that the moral Democrats have a valid excuse for losing the election.

  6. bud

    Brooks and Gerson are both looking at the electorate and missing one of the parts. Think of the electorate as a triangle. There’s the Trump base. Then there’s teeny, tiny swing voter leg. Brooks and Gerson see the Trump base and the teeny, tiny swing side as swinging toward Trump if the Dems impeach. I doubt Trump’s base can get any more energized. Do they suggest that if the Dems suddenly drop the impeachment process Trumps base will suddenly become less energized and hence less likely to vote? That is absurd.

    As for the teeny, tiny swing voter group it’s at least possible that a few will be upset by impeachment and thus vote Trump. But given the miniscule size of the swing voter group this is probably inconsequential.

    But the very large group and Brooks and Gerson can’t find for some reason is the Democratic base. This is huuge part of the electorate. Perhaps 70 million voters are solidly in the Democratic camp. If impeachment is stopped now then millions of Democrats are just going to throw their hands up and say what is the point of voting? You just can’t do electoral math by assuming 10s of millions of voters are just automatically in line with the Democrats whichever way the impeachment process goes. That is a huge flaw with many of these self-professed “moderates”.

      1. bud

        But you see in this election Brad, you are NOT a swing voter. Or more precisely you’re not a persuadable voter. Clearly you’re not going to vote for Trump. Perhaps you won’t vote for the Democrat if it’s Warren or Sanders, you’ve been evasive about that. But you are not in the teeny, tiny swing voter leg this time around.

  7. Sally

    Brad, I don’t fully agree with David Brooks reasoning, but I am on the fence about the House decision to begin impeachment proceedings. Polls already show people don’t care, and the inside-the-Beltway drama just increases voters’ Trump fatigue. With this in mind, I hope Biden veers away from the uproar, saying something to the effect that “let the constitutional process unfold, but let’s talk about what’s important in your household. How’s your health care? How’s your family finances? etc.” Reporters in the field say that’s what voters want to hear.
    I suspect you’re keeping up with the uproar the NYT created with its article narrowing information on the whistle blower. The paper is getting skewered — over 4,000 negative reader website comments on the executive editor’s explanation of the decision, chiding that the paper would go to court to protect one of its sources, Washington Post protection of Deep Throat, chilling effect on future whistle blowing, and so on. Personally, I think it was a terrible editorial decision.

    1. Mr. Smith

      ” I hope Biden veers away from the uproar, saying something to the effect that ‘let the constitutional process unfold, but let’s talk about what’s important in your household. How’s your health care? How’s your family finances? etc.! ”

      No, no and again no. This is not just another election about individual prosperity or the lack of it. NO candidate should ignore the poison being poured into our body politic by this so-called president. His incompetence, cynicism and corruption is debasing this country on an ongoing basis and attempting to ignore the consequences that should come of that would be to neglect what’s essential. If the public is too ignorant, indifferent or disengaged to care, then they deserve another four years of this.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        OK, I found the story in question. And I read that this morning! Or at least skimmed through it.

        The thing that got everyone upset just went right past me…

        1. Mark Stewart

          WTF is the Grey Lady doing trying to out a deep source – espc one clearly risking a lot (like their life given Trump’s UN comments Thursday and the brainwashedness of some of his supporters) for the public good? It’s bizarre. I’m sure they wanted to know to verify the sourcing, but to publicize was a total failure of judgement.

  8. Barry

    I wasnt sure about impeachment but I’m 95% there now.

    As bad as it is for the country, I think Trump and his reflexive cheerleading squad is worse. I think it’s time.

    Chris Wallace on Fox News this morning blasted Trump defenders. He said their dismissal of what had occurred was revealing.

  9. Realist

    Why go the long, drawn out process of justifying formal impeachment proceedings to be sent to the Senate? According to everyone in the House who believes Trump is guilty of impeachable offenses, then vote to impeach, send the evidence they have to the Senate, let the Senate take the evidence, and proceed with the formal trial. Let the public know what the physical evidence, what the treasonous acts were, and any other supporting evidence that warrants a Senate vote to remove Trump from office.

    The investigating committees have been laboring for years seeking evidence sufficient enough to move forward. Now they are convinced they have it based on the conversation between Trump and the president of the Ukraine. Move forward immediately so this will be out of the way as soon as possible. Then start the 2020 campaign in earnest and bring the issues the candidates support to the forefront of the news cycle.

    Based on the sieve like nature inside the Beltway relating to keeping a secret for more than 5 seconds, it is amazing that the name of the one who wrote the complaint based on the information relayed to him or her by the actual whistleblowers has not been made public. The names of the ones providing the information will be a prime target sooner or later and their names will become known no matter how hard they try to keep themselves out of the public eye. It is the nature of the DC Beltway Beast that devours everyone inside it sooner or later.

    Hate Trump for who and what he is, a self-centered narcissist who doesn’t believe the rules and protocols of office apply to him and one who engages in immature tweets and social media messages attacking anyone he targets at the moment. But, in the end, without actual names and testimony before the House or Senate, the extremely well written document by the person labeled as the whistleblower is still hearsay and is second, third, or possibly fourth hand. The release of the Trump produced transcript supported the fact that a conversation took place and certain issues discussed but again, the person authoring the complaint did not hear the actual conversation and only repeated what he or she was told.

    Given the actual fact of no first hand, in-person knowledge of the conversation and depending on what others provided, in any court of law, the probability of the complaint being dismissed is probably greater than 75%. Personally I would have a problem with it even though past behavior indicates the greater possibility Trump is guilty but even Trump is entitled to a fair interpretation of the law concerning evidence that can be verified by one who was present and is willing to step forward and testify.

    Maybe the resident attorney on this blog can address this with more clarity and understanding.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Given the actual fact of no first hand, in-person knowledge of the conversation and depending on what others provided…”

      That may describe the whistleblower’s complaint, but I’m going by the transcript Trump himself release, which constitutes his endorsement of the contents, which to me is as good as a confession — although I’m no attorney, either…

      1. Realist

        Trump’s critics are going to read into the transcript and complaint what they want to read into them. Trump’s supporters are going to do the same. After carefully reading both, while there are aspects of the complaint that comply with the transcript in general, there is no definite endorsement one way or the other as to actual and “clearly” stated intent by Trump in the transcript. In a bizarre way, it comes down to a “he said, he said” scenario and only the two actual participants in the conversation know the real truth of intent or attempt to intimidate. Everyone else is irrelevant unless they were on a line listening and privy to intended actions by Trump prior to the conversation.

        Not a defense of Trump but until the actual participants, the writer of the complaint and his or her sources come forward and testify as to the veracity of the complaint, Trump has a legitimate and IMHO, a legal standing of innocence of the pending charges in this matter. If his comportment as POTUS is sufficient for an impeachment indictment, he would have been kicked out of office a year ago.

        This is no time for political fun and games by either side because the stakes are too high for the future of this country. Democrats have been suckered into a game they cannot win and against an opponent they cannot defeat in the sense that he would ever under any circumstances admit to and concede that he is defeated. Trump is so far under Hillary’s skin that she has come out swinging again when it would serve her and the Democrats better if she would remain silent. But she simply cannot just as Trump cannot.

        If anything good could come of this, it would be that every sitting member of Congress and the executive branch would be voted out of office and sensible, intelligent, and informed representatives elected who would be willing to work together for the betterment of this nation.

        1. Barry

          They dont have to find him guilty of a criminal offense. As Lindsey said in the 1990s, ( but has conveniently forgot) they can impeach a president simply to cleanse the office.

      2. Barry

        Support for impeachment in recent polls has risen dramatically to near 50%. I suspect it will only increase.

  10. Realist

    My comments regarding the complaint being based on second-hand information are now moot because the requirement in the 24May2018 Revision, the FIRST-HAND INFORMATION REQUIRED was shown and spelled out clearly on page ii. The first few sentences in the requirement was, “In order to find an urgent concern “credible”, the IC IG must be in the possession of reliable, first-hand information. The IC IG cannot transmit information via ICWPA based on an employee’s second-hand knowledge of wrong-doing. …..etc.”

    As discovered after Trump released the transcript and the written Disclosure of Concern document, in the August 2019 revision, the requirement has been removed and according to the ICWPA, the hearsay presented is acceptable. This is an open door for the committees to walk through without providing any information about the whistleblower or his or her sources of information to anyone. This allows anyone within the intelligence communities with a grudge against Trump or in the future, perhaps a Democrat POTUS, to file a Disclosure of Concern and can do so with prejudice and not be held accountable even if the charges are not proven.

    This is to me a very dangerous the Office of IC IG has opened and placed their credibility on an even slippery slope than it is now. Some of the members of this blog will welcome the new provisions because they want Trump out of office by any means necessary. I personally do not support this new protection for bogus whistleblowers whether it is used against Trump or a Democrat POTUS.

    Democrats did this once before when Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” on Senate votes for SCOTUS and federal judge bench nominations. The results of his move are an open wound for Democrats that won’t heal in the near future. Trump is still POTUS and has a majority in the Senate. There are numerous federal bench positions open and unless impeachment actually takes place, Trump can name anyone he wants to a bench and considering the end run by the Office of IC IG, he will come out swinging. It is in his nature to fight back and not back down.

    1. bud

      Democrats did this once before when Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” on Senate votes for SCOTUS and federal judge bench nominations.

      Reid specifically excluded SCOTUS nominations. McConnel and the Republicans ended it for SCOTUS. Reid ended the filibuster because the Republicans had become obstructionist. Frankly I’m glad the filibuster rule is gone for bench nominations. It needs to be gone for everything.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Realist, Don’t overcomplicate it. This is over; Trump and Giuliani have managed to sink themselves with their own admissions which align with the whistleblower complaint. The only part left is to watch Mulvaney plead the fifth in front of Congress. Whether or not Trump did withhold military aid to Ukraine is not something Congress is going to pass on pursuing. It will come out.

      And while I don’t believe that we are ever likely to hear (read) the Putin and MBS conversations, there is no doubt that the House and Senate intelligence committees will review them. What is the chance the general consensus is not “I am shocked and saddened by what we have learned”?

      There is no joy in reporting these facts. We have a President who has proven himself not simply ineffectual but who has ably demonstrated his unsuitability for the office of President. We can decide later his crimes and the punishment, now we need to see this through to conviction in the Senate if Trump will not resign himself.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Wow. I was really ignorant about Laura Nyro. I had no idea she wrote all these songs:
            “Stoney End”
            “And When I Die”
            “Eli’s Comin'”
            “Stoned Soul Picnic”
            “Save the Country”

            Where was I when she was cranking out this stuff?

      1. Doug Ross

        So this time you’re CERTAIN it is over? Unlike the other times?

        If Trump is still President a year from now, will you admit you were wrong?

        I would put the odds that Trump resigns or is impeached by the full Congress at 10:1. Might happen, but not guaranteed… I would bet more money that Biden is gone first.

        1. Mark Stewart

          I am certain, Doug, that Trump should be removed from the office of which he is unworthy. Every further development, mostly Trump initiated, simply lends credence to the veracity of this viewpoint.

          1. Doug Ross

            Should and will are not the same. Bill Clinton SHOULD have resigned.

            We’re on at least the 20th time someone has said “This is it!” in terms of Trump’s tenure.

            What you are saying is that Trump’s phone call and the transcript he released will take down the presidency… this in the absence of an actual accuser and any indication of an actual quid-pro-quo deal. It sure seems like just run of the mill politics as usual to me… this is worse than the pallet of $100 bills Obama sent to Iran? Ok. There was no quid pro quo there… just a normal financial transaction.

            But it’s fine. Trump resigns or is impeached. Democrats win the White House in 2020 and take the House and Senate… and we then see the most effective government in history led by Biden or Warren, Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, Maxine Waters, and AOC. I can’t wait for the Dream Team to take over! Prosperity and equality will abound.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              No, Doug, this is the first time rational human beings — folks like Nancy Pelosi, who wanted to hold back the demand for impeachment as long as she could; folks like those seven moderates with their op-ed, who before this had done their best to spend their time on other issues — have said “This is it!”

              And they’ve said it because this is a moment unlike any that has gone before. It is qualitatively different.

              Previously, people wondered whether Trump colluded with the Russians in their efforts to help him get elected. No such evidence was found.

              This time, Trump colluded, and handed over evidence of collusion — a written account of the call in which he colluded. Actually, “colluded” is far too weak a word. It’s not like a foreign leader came to Trump with the idea of interfering in our election and Trump went along with it. He is, unquestionably and to a shocking degree, the instigator. It’s his idea — an idea based upon a moronic conspiracy theory that’s been repeatedly debunked.

              We know you hate government and politics, but it’s absurd to say this “seems like just run of the mill politics.” I’ve spent my adult life as a professional observer of politics, and nothing like this has happened before during my career.*

              You’re a smart guy, so you should really not resort to parroting the Trump talking points: “Where’s the accuser? No quid pro quo!” These are pathetic attempts to excuse the gross abuse of power that that “transcript” — which Trump willingly released, being too stupid to know what it meant — reveals.

              A digression… Speaking of Trump’s stupidity on that point… The fact that he considered this call to be totally innocent, business as usual, kinda makes me want to know what he said in all the conversations we don’t know about.

              That said, there probably isn’t anything as nakedly out of line as this on other calls, because if there were, this one wouldn’t have shocked all the professionals who were listening in…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                * I said nothing like this has happened “during my career,” by which I mean from the time I had my first newspaper job in 1974 to my current status as a blogger and editor-in-exile. 🙂

                Bud reminds us that something comparable DID happen in 1968, when Nixon intervened to sabotage peace efforts in Vietnam so that he could get elected….

              2. Doug Ross

                So the transcript is the smoking gun? That’s what the impeachment hinges upon? It’s a cut-and-dry case that will be over in weeks?

                I’m 100% certain worse deals have been offered by U.S. Presidents in my lifetime… things we will never know about. Do you think the CIA, is squeaky clean in all activities related to foreign affairs?

                We’ll see how it plays out. I don’t think we’re anywhere close to Watergate level yet. I await the evidence beyond the transcript which is just Trump playing big mouthed big shot. But be careful what you wish for because I don’t see how Biden DOESN’T get dragged into this.

                1. Barry

                  I don’t care regarding Biden. I think there is ample evidence and reporting to prove Biden was doing the exact opposite of what you and trump’s defenders are allude to..

                  But regardless, it’s well worth it to get trump out of office.

              3. David T

                “No, Doug, this is the first time rational human beings — folks like Nancy Pelosi, ”

                That’s as far as I got in that comment.

                1. Doug Ross

                  David, David, David… don’t you remember the good old days when Nancy and Barack were in charge and there was no racism, no gun deaths, free healthcare, no income inequality. I realize Obama was only in the office for 96 short months… but look at all he accomplished. And that’s just around the corner again when Trump resigns or is impeached, Pence loses to Biden or (please, God!) Warren, and Democrats retake the Senate. That first 100 days of Biden’s presidency is going to dwarf Reagan’s start.

                  I CAN’T WAIT!!!!

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Doug, what is your problem? Why are you so blind to what is in front of you? Why is the legitimate, sincere concern of people who love their country something that inspires you to sarcasm?

                    How can you see this the way the blindest Trump supporters see it — as politics as usual? Where WERE you all those years before 2016, when a situation like this was unthinkable?

                2. David T

                  Well he did get that Nobel Peace Prize, so I guess he accomplished something that first month in office. And Chicago is safer now than before he was President.

                3. David T

                  “Why is the legitimate, sincere concern of people who love their country so”

                  Who in God’s name are you talking about? Certainly not the Democrats.

            2. Doug Ross

              As for the talking points, do you think the whistleblower must be identified and testify? How do you think that will play out if he/she doesn’t?

                1. Mark Stewart

                  Fitsnews, Ron Paul and Lindsey Graham all in one sentence?

                  Think I am gonna just back on out of the saloon doors at this… ride far, far away.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Yeah, that’s pretty disturbing. I always saw Paul as a flake, but relatively harmless. This piece just drives right off a cliff at full speed….

                    It’s wild enough that, if I were a young-enough person to start a new career, I might respond to this latest ad from that job-posting service I’ve written about several times recently. Because Paul’s piece reminds me of the importance of having good people out there in our intel apparatus, people devoted to the country rather than themselves or parties or ideologies…



                2. Barry

                  I believe Ron Paul is still peddling “last days” food supplies on right wing radio. LOL

                  What a waste of space…

              1. Doug Ross

                Lindsey was added as a joke… just because those who used to defend his wisdom now have to backtrack. Will Folks is a smart guy who understands the political reality of the world better than most.

                But forgive me for taking the word of someone like Ron Paul who has decades of experience in Congress and no skin in the “love/hate Trump” game over, checks notes, a guy who writes an op ed for the NY Times who has become increasingly irrelevant since November 2016.

                1. Doug Ross

                  I assume you all won’t read the Ron Paul piece because you might have to revise your thinking in some small way. Better to put on the blinders and stick to content that supports your view.

                  But ask yourself- what’s in it for Ron Paul to take Trump’s side?

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Doug asks, “But ask yourself- what’s in it for Ron Paul to take Trump’s side?”

                    Exactly the same thing that’s in it for Lindsey Graham: Re-election from a red state.

                    Of course, the key thing is getting through the primary, and that’s where the main danger lies for anyone wearing the Republican label who fails to bow down before Trump…

                2. bud

                  Will Folks is nothing but a attention seeking self-declared adulterer. His “insight” is limited to slamming liberals while ignoring ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that runs counter to his ideologue narrative. About as insightful as a National Enquirer piece on alien abduction.

                3. Mark Stewart

                  Good lord, Doug. I read Rand Paul’s conspiracy theory fest. I also read the entire memo that Trump released. And analyses of the whitleblower’s report.

                  This is not about political granstanding. The Russians did actively interfere in our 2016 election. Trump did clearly ask the President of Ukraine to help him out politically, and he did do so after explicitly tying the offer to Ukrainian military aid and to Giuliani / Barr.

                4. Doug Ross

                  Then it’s an open and shut case, like I said. Trump will be out before the end of the year, if he lasts that long. Then our long national nightmare will be over and Biden/Pelosi/Schumer will be in charge.

                  If I was smart enough to post video links like Bill, I would cue up “Happy Days Are Here Again!”

                  I have no dog in this fight. I don’t care if Trump stays or goes. I don’t support him and wouldn’t vote for him. His presence is the White House has little impact on the majority of Americans’ lives…

                  I just point out hypocrisy and derangement when I see it.

                5. Doug Ross

                  Methinks bud protests a bit too much. Folks has been anti-Trump for quite awhile now thanks to the deficits.

                6. Doug Ross

                  “Well, let us know when you see some…”

                  If you’ve spent 2.5 years saying “this is the final straw” or “we are in the midst of a existential disaster”, seek professional help for Trump Derangement Syndrome. If you are a Democrat who now think George W. Bush wasn’t so bad, please see your pharmacist and get a prescription for “Hypocricillin”.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    You see things in such odd ways…

                    Of COURSE Bush wasn’t so bad. Neither was Nixon. Any previous president in the last century would be a VAST improvement over this situation.

                    We’re not talking quantitative difference here, but qualitative.

                    Sometimes I say “any president in history,” but on my more careful days I wonder whether he’s really that much worse than Andy Jackson, James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson. I guess this is one of my conservative days…

                    But even then, Trump is unique. Those guys were deeply flawed, but no one is more unfit in more startling, and often unique, ways than this guy…

                7. Doug Ross

                  What’s Trump’s innocent death body count? Let me know when it approaches 1% of Bush’s.

                  Dead bodies are a bigger deal than phone calls.

              2. David T

                I noticed nobody has answered your question.

                ” do you think the whistleblower must be identified and testify? “

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Actually, as I understand it, the law protects his identity. That’s why the NYT was subjected to such an angry outcry the other day, for providing details that narrow down who he is.

                  There are a lot of reasons for this protection, among them the fact that the President of the United States is sharing with the world his fantasies about killing the guy, the way we did in the good old days. The way the kinds of world leaders Trump admires — such as Putin and Prince Mohammad bin Salman — still do.

                  Meanwhile, he IS expected to testify — once the details are worked out that allow him to do so while having his identity protected.

                  Frankly, I doubt his identity will stay secret for long, despite his legal right…

                2. Doug Ross

                  I prefer a whistleblower like Edward Snowden. One who is willing to put his entire life on the line to expose illegal activity by the government. He gave up everything for what he believed in.

                  Meanwhile, some CIA employee who thinks Trump has committed treason and likely expects him to be impeached because of it hasn’t got the guts to make his/her claim in public. Because???

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Doug’s saying he prefers a traitor who ran to hide behind Putin in order to avoid prosecution for his crimes — his actual CRIMES, mind you — to a professional public servant who followed the nation’s laws in order to report a gross abuse of power by the most powerful man in the world.

                    That’s really messed up…

                    What’s next? Joining Bill Maher in praising the courage of the 9/11 terrorists?

                3. Barry

                  “ I prefer a whistleblower like Edward Snowden. One who is willing to put his entire life on the line “

                  Right, you prefer someone to take it upon themself to leak highly classified info themselves to make a point. I doubt that surprises anyone.

                  “ Meanwhile, some CIA employee who thinks Trump has committed treason and likely expects him to be impeached because of it hasn’t got the guts to make his/her claim in public. Because???”

                  -Because the law allows for it, prescribes it, and protects people when they believe a possible crime has been committed regardless of what you think about any of it.

                  Has nothing to do with him having “the guts” to do it. This isn’t 1st grade.

                4. Doug Ross

                  Trump has the right to face his accuser.

                  I’m not surprised at all that you support anonymous whistleblowers. That’s right in your wheelhouse.

                5. Mark Stewart

                  I support anonymous whistleblowers. The IG ruled the report credible and urgent.

                  Trump has already threatened their life multiple times. What am I missing???

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    AAAAaaahhhhh! Mark, a poster for whom I’ve always had the utmost respect, just wrote “their life!”

                    “Their lives” would be fine — as long as you’re referring to multiple people.

                    His life” is good, and probably on the money, since I heard the NYT reporter who got the paper in trouble by narrowing down the identity refer to the whistleblower as “he.”

                    So would “her life” if you had reason to believe that was accurate.

                    His or her life” would be fine, long as we really don’t know. In fact, it’s probably best for the time being.

                    But “their life?” Never…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I had to turn off the radio this morning when someone, referring to the whistleblower, launched into a monologue in which he kept saying “they” and “their” and “them” and perhaps also “they’re” — I think there had been four or five counts of this crime against the language before I was able to turn it off…

                6. David T

                  How exactly has Trump threatened their lives? By saying that in the past we used to handle traitors differently?

                7. Doug Ross

                  Yes, Trump is publicly calling for the whistleblower to be killed so that when that happens Trump will be arrested. It’s the classic move of a criminal mastermind.

                  For whatever faults Trump has, I have to admire how he has figured out how to use Twitter to keep his opponents in a constant state of chaos. It’s like a drug for the Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferers. “What did he say today?!” “I need a new tweet!” “He’s calling for civil war!” “He’s going to bomb Iran!” “He’s a racist, misogyinst, homophobic, idiot who I NEED injected in my veins!”

                  Trump is P.T, Barnum 2.0.

                8. David T

                  I guess I took the quote as his views on how we handled traitors in this country not whistle blowers.

                9. David T

                  I don’t agree with anonymous whistle blowers. If someone can accuse you of doing something that’s anymore serious than a traffic ticket you should be able to know who that person is if it goes through the legal system. For all we know it may not be anyone, it may be something someone made up and there is no physical whistle blower.

                  Brad I heard you ran over a box of kittens and just left them there to die. Why did you do that? I have a witness who saw you so don’t deny it.

                  How do you defend that if the witness can’t be required to come forward and testify.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I’m really having trouble following what your (and Doug’s) problem is with the whistleblower and what he has reported.

                    It’s not some big mystery. Obviously, he didn’t make up the story. We KNOW that, with ZERO doubt, because the president of the United States, the culprit himself, released the “transcript” (really, an official memo describing the call), presenting it as an accurate representation of the call. Trump has confirmed and substantiated what the whistleblower said. That makes who he is, what his motives are and all these other extraneous questions pretty much beside the point.

                    The committees of Congress are BEGINNING a process that will involve further substantiating the matter, interviewing the whistleblower AND the many witnesses to the call and the alleged coverup of the call, including presumably the secretary of state (who claimed he knew nothing about the incident before admitting that yeah, he was on the call, too). This will be quite an involved process.

                    But there is no longer ANY doubt as to the call itself, because Trump confirmed it all even before we had seen the whistleblower report.

                    So while all the hand-wringing over the guy’s anonymity?

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      To use your “Brad running over the kittens” analogy, what’s happening here with regard to the whistleblower complaint is the same as if I, personally, had provided you with an official U.S. government document telling you that I ran over the kittens and left them to die, and I told you that because I’m dumb as a stump and don’t know there’s anything wrong with what I did.

                      You don’t have to believe the person who told you about it, because I’ve confirmed it.

                      Then, after dimly realizing this DID put me in trouble, I put out scores of ranting Tweets defending what I did, and accusing those who brought it up of treason, and fantasizing about what we used to DO to such traitors and tattle-tales…

                      And why have I done these things? Because on top of being a killer of kittens, I am a raving lunatic…

                10. David T

                  Brad what if the whistle blower is LGBT? It’s sexist to label them with the pronoun not of their choosing. A teacher just got fired for it recently.

                11. Barry

                  “I’m not surprised at all that you support anonymous whistleblowers. That’s right in your wheelhouse.”

                  He/she is not anonymous.

                  Don’t lie.

                12. Barry

                  “Doug’s saying he prefers a traitor who ran to hide behind Putin in order to avoid prosecution for his crimes — his actual CRIMES, mind you — to a professional public servant who followed the nation’s laws in order to report a gross abuse of power”

                  Of course Doug does. That isn’t a surprise Brad.

                13. David T

                  ““Doug’s saying he prefers a traitor who ran to hide behind Putin in order to avoid prosecution for his crimes — his actual CRIMES,”

                  At least in that case we had a name and a physical person. That so far is not the case in this instance. Nobody has released any information on the whistleblower. Is the person male, female, does it have a name, where did the person get this information, what the information obtained legally or illegally, is the person credible? Telling us “just never mind” isn’t going to cut it.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    David, I don’t know why you have so much trouble absorbing this… We have laws to protect whistleblowers so that there will BE whistleblowers — so that we can find out about wrongdoing in government, such as this historically unprecedentd abuse of power.

                    Being anonymous isn’t some character flaw of this whistleblower. This is the way it is supposed to work.

                    But don’t worry — I expect we’ll all know who he is before long, because of the nature of these things in our age. The system will break down.

                    Again, I don’t understand why anyone cares who it is. The only thing that matters is whether what he reported is true. And we know it IS true, because Trump released the document proving it.

                    The only argument here is between people who understand how grossly inappropriate Trump’s actions were, and people who don’t — or claim that they don’t…

                14. Doug Ross

                  Watch Citizen Four and explain what the traitorous acts were. You can watch Snowden in real time while it was happening.

                  As Snowden said recently, you’re a traitor when you expose the bad behavior of a government agency but a hero when you expose the bad behavior of a government official.

                  If your world view is that the NSA is never wrong and has never done anything illegal, unconstitutional, or unethical as a matter of policy, then you’re welcome to your delusions.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    But Snowden did not “expose the bad behavior of a government agency.” That’s a libertarian fantasy.

                    I’m sure he appreciates your willingness to go along with his self-aggrandizement.

                    Don’t misrepresent my views as “that the NSA is never wrong.” There has ever been any human organization that was never wrong.

                    But in this case, NSA was doing what it was required by law to do. Kind of the opposite of wrongdoing.

                    We have a system of laws. The FISA system, and the NSA counterterrorism programs, occurred within a system of checks and balances — laws passed by Congress, activity by the executive branch having permission from the courts, and oversight by Congress. All duly constituted authorities.

                    And this megalomaniacal 29-year-old, elected to nothing, decided that he knew better than all of them, and would act in defiance of all of them. He wasn’t exposing wrongdoing at some agency. He was spitting in the face of our entire system.

                    He is responsible for one of the largest security breaches in U.S. history.

                    If he wants to clear his reputation, show that he is not a criminal, all he has to do is come home and face trial….

                15. Barry

                  “If your world view is that the NSA is never wrong and has never done anything illegal, unconstitutional, or unethical as a matter of policy, then you’re welcome to your delusions.”

                  Mommy, look at the pretty red balloon . Isn’t it fun to look at? No Mommy, don’t look under my pillow. No. No. Look at the balloon……….

                16. David T

                  So if the whistleblower will never be revealed, how do we know for certain that this isn’t just something someone made up? If someone accuses me of something that could get me fired or put in jail, I want to be able to confront the person even if its just in court. I would not be satisfied with something written on a piece of paper that could have come from anywhere. Like in my example I could make up something and say I heard it from someone, but I’ll never tell you who it is. If someone told yo your wife was having an affair, would you want to confront the person who said this or would you go straight to your wife and start accusing her of having an affair… because that’s what someone you don’t know told you.

                17. Mark Stewart

                  This is all nuts y’all; Trump has admitted to what he did in Ukraine – and yesterday he admitted he has had similar, and arguably worse about Hong Kong, conversations with China as well.

                  The whistleblower(s) are irrelevant. Square?

                18. Barry

                  “So if the whistleblower will never be revealed, how do we know for certain that this isn’t just something someone made up? “

                  I think the fact Trump confirmed he asked Ukraine to do it and yesterday asked communist China to do the same thing makes clear to rational people that the whistleblower didn’t just make it up. Your problem is Trump says he did it.

                  “If someone accuses me of something that could get me fired or put in jail, I want to be able to confront the person even if its just in court.”

                  This is possible impeachment of a President. There are specific processes laid out for testimony, including whistleblower statutes that were and are to be followed.

                  “Like in my example I could make up something and say I heard it from someone, but I’ll never tell you who it is.”

                  Irrelevant. The whistleblower statute requires review and examination of the claims made, which was done by the intelligence community inspector general who interviewed multiple people about the claims and found the complaint credible.

                  You are conflating things to an absurd level to defend a politician who has now admitted to seeking help from a foreign country regarding his chief political rival to benefit himself.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I’m really having trouble following what the Trump defenders are saying. “I could make up something and say I heard it from someone…”

                    What? We all know that no one “made up” anything. What the whistleblower described has been admitted by Trump. In fact, he released the transcript confirming it before we even saw the whistleblower complaint.

                    So what’s all this nonsense about “making something up?”

                19. David T

                  LIberals and the likes of the media are resorting to the shotgun approach. Throw out anything and everything they can dig or make up on Trump and hope something sticks. This is the new Democratic party, they have no leadership, they have no direction, it’s an all out tomato fight and the last one standing will be declared the winner. It’s getting to the point where I don’t even watch the news anymore because there’s so much being thrown out you don’t know what to believe. I long for the good old days when you only read about politics in the newspaper every 4 years instead of every 4 minutes. Impeach, don’t impeach, tie up the House and Senate for another six months and accomplishing nothing… I really am starting not to care. I think more and more people would agree with me.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    “LIberals and the likes of the media are resorting to the shotgun approach. Throw out anything and everything they can dig or make up on Trump and hope something sticks.”

                    Wow. This is EXACTLY the opposite of what is happening here. Trump has done a very specific thing that is obviously far beyond the pale — using the power of his office (worse, the power over national security) to enlist a foreign power in helping him attack a political rival. There is a VERY specific charge — and he has admitted it. And it this isn’t impeachable, it’s sort of hard to imagine what would be.

                    How on Earth could you describe that the way you just did? This is a VERY Trumpian approach to reality — “It would be convenient to me if this were so, so I’ll say it’s so, even though it’s actually the opposite”…

                20. Barry

                  “. I long for the good old days when you only read about politics in the newspaper every 4 years instead of every 4 minutes.”

                  I agree but that is in the past.

                21. David T

                  Brad, I guess you’re sitting there with your fingers and toes crossed, because if they can’t kick him out of office it’s going to be a long campaign season for the Democrats. It’s like playing poker when you know the guy who goes all in is most likely bluffing and the only chance he has is if he has a rare lucky hand.

                22. David T

                  Brad, as someone who eats, sleeps, and lives every working moment around politics and who has a vile hatred toward Donald Trump… does what is going on lately make you feel like a giddy school girl? Or are you as tired of all this as most people I know. If impeached do you think the Democratic candidate can beat Pence? I honestly don’t see the Democrats winning the election no matter who they select and have them run against Trump or Pence. I believe Pence would have an easier time than Trump at this point. I just don’t see any of the Democratic candidates winning unless Republican voters stay home.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I don’t know who you think I am. You apparently don’t know me. I guess you haven’t been reading me for long.

                    I’m probably more tired of all of this than you are — because I’m exhausted by this absurd situation of such a grotesquely unfit creature holding the presidency of the United States, and his supporters seeing nothing wrong with that.

                    There is no good way out of this. If Trump’s gone, the people who voted for him will just look for someone just as unsuitable to replace him.

                    The thing that upsets me is that there is such a sickness in our politics. Never, EVER, before 2016, would a significant number of people have considered for a second voting for such a gross, vulgar, hostile, impulsive, ignorant person.

                    What we have to do is get to the bottom of how such an obscene thing could happen to our country, and fix things so it doesn’t happen again.

                    And frankly, I don’t know where to start. That’s because no matter how many explanations I hear, I haven’t seen any that rationally explain why anyone would vote for him.

                    Trump is less the problem, and more the symptom….

                    Of course, I’ve said all these things many times. Perhaps you’ve missed it…

                23. Barry

                  “The thing that upsets me is that there is such a sickness in our politics. Never, EVER, before 2016, would a significant number of people have considered for a second voting for such a gross, vulgar, hostile, impulsive, ignorant person.”

                  My wife reminded me over the weekend (after one of my rants) that so many of the people we know that look at Trump as Jesus returning laughed at his initial candidacy because they found him, his comments, his conspiracy theories, and his lack of morals such a joke.

                  Instead of refusing to vote for a joke, (Clinton a joke too) they saw a chance to win an election and their morals and integrity immediately flew out the window.

                  They rationalized their own lack of integrity like a 16 year old school boy does.

                  I didn’t change my opinion of a depraved Donald Trump. I changed my opinion of them and purposely left behind some former friends as a result.

                24. David T

                  I don’t know about that, many people I know didn’t vote for Trump, they voted against Hillary. Just as many Hillary voters voted not for Hillary, but against Trump.

                25. Harry Harris

                  That’s why policy, facts, and specificity in choosing candidates matters – yet we often ignore all of them. Too much work.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author


                    Not so much with me.

                    Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much a high-information voter. But bottom line, I don’t go by policies and specificity — I go on the basis of my assessment of the candidate’s character, and whether, on the basis of that assessment, I trust him or her to perform the duties of the office.

                    I don’t want them to tell me, “I will do this in office, or I won’t do that.” We don’t know what will arise during an upcoming term, and which actions will be the wisest under the circumstances. So I choose someone I trust to make the decisions when the time comes…

                26. Barry

                  “I don’t know about that, many people I know didn’t vote for Trump, they voted against Hillary. Just as many Hillary voters voted not for Hillary, but against Trump.”

                  As I said, they rationalized voting for Trump or Hillary like a teenager rationalizes their own decisions.

                27. Harry Harris

                  “Don’t get me wrong. I’m very much a high-information voter. But bottom line, I don’t go by policies and specificity — I go on the basis of my assessment of the candidate’s character, and whether, on the basis of that assessment, I trust him or her to perform the duties of the office.”

                  Do you like look into their souls? Or do you do the work of tracing their history for yourself and studying their positions on issues. My main point is that too many voters form opinions of candidates based on caricatures, straw-man depictions, and opposition-fostered claims without debunking anything. We live in a factless political milieu with little commitment to truth that is largely driven by perceived self-interest.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    “too many voters form opinions of candidates based on caricatures”

                    Absolutely true. And that’s a problem.

                    Do I look into their souls? I guess I do, in a sense. But mostly I look at track record, and the way the person’s mind works in different situations. This is why I prefer candidates for high office to have experience in lower public office, so that I’ve had an opportunity to observe them over time, and judge the way they approach challenges.

                    We’re all tempted to oversimplify, even when our judgment is based on something deeper. For instance, I might say that I decided long ago — at least as early as 2012, and probably before — that I don’t like Elizabeth Warren as a character, because she says “fight” too often. And she does. She always has. And as y’all know, I hate it when candidates do that.

                    But the thing is, her saying “fight” so often is just a sort of tic that is rooted in a lot of other things about her — her tone of voice, her facial expression and body language when she addresses issues, and far more importantly, her worldview.

                    I was reminded of what I see as wrong with Elizabeth Warren this morning reading a column in which Frank Bruni is describing what’s right about Pete Buttigieg. He quotes Buttigieg on this point:

                    “There’s this desire to carve the world up into good and bad people and carve the electorate up into good and bad people,” he said to reporters who joined him for an extended bus trip through Iowa recently, as reported by Henry Gomez on BuzzFeed News. “Trump has a way of doing it. My party has a way of doing it. And it misses the need for a certain humility about the good and evil we’re each capable of.”

                    If that sounded like a rebuke of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and some other Democratic presidential candidates, the words he uttered next confirmed as much. “The real question of leadership,” he said, “is not: Do we round up all of the good people, hope it’s more than 51 percent, come together and crush the bad people? It’s: Are we going to bring out what is better in us versus what is worse in us?”…

                    You bet that’s a rebuke of Elizabeth Warren, and all the people who talk and act as though politics is about assembling that 51 percent, then cramming whatever it is you want down the throats of your opponents.

                    Which is what I mean when I say she says “fight” too much…

                28. David T

                  “As I said, they rationalized voting for Trump or Hillary like a teenager rationalizes their own decisions.”

                  In the words of Fonzi to Richie when Richie was caught taking Fonzi’s girlfriend out on a date. “Do you want me to hit you in the face or the stomach? The face is going to leave a mark but won’t hurt for long, the stomach won’t leave a mark but will hurt for a long time.”

                  We had the choice of voting for the face or the stomach in 2016. There was no correct choice, you were just voting which would be the better option between the two. America chose wisely.

                29. Barry

                  “We had the choice of voting for the face or the stomach in 2016. There was no correct choice, you were just voting which would be the better option between the two. America chose wisely.”

                  We simply have irreconcilable views.

                  For me, it is a moral issue.

                  I can’t look myself, my wife, and my children in the face and vote for Donald Trump. I couldn’t do the same regarding Clinton.

                  For me, my vote only ever goes to someone I can support on some level. I can’t support, in any way, unrepentant pathological liars who abuse people for their own self interests.

  11. Doug Ross

    Another data point in the pending end to Joe Biden’s last hurrah.. he was outraised in campaign fundraising by Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg… Even Mayor Pete beat him $19 million to $15. Yang and Harris both got $11. Joe hasn’t had a single good day on the campaign trail yet.

    Sadly, thanks to Bernie’s heart attack, it looks like it’s Warren’s race to lose. I might end up as depressed as all the Trump haters if she wins.

  12. Bill

    The constant outrage will keep you motivated and serotonin levels high but you’ll hate everything even more.

        1. David T

          You’re going to have to narrow that down a little. Right now you’re talking to 99% of South Carolina.

  13. Harry Harris

    Brad, I really wish you would take a close look at Cory Booker. He has fire in his gut, but graciousness in his soul. He goes far on gun control, but calls for the inclusion of the gun-toters (not the gun lobby) in grinding out a solution. He supports universal healthcare coverage and Medicare for all, but a moderate pathway to getting there. He is a communitarian who points and pushes for an aspirational politics that goes way past Trump-dumping (although we agree that is a go start). He’ll take a pointed shot, but only on an issue that demands a bold, even emotional action (ala Jesus in the temple turning over some tables).

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’ve always found that — the moneychangers thing — perplexing. Particularly when I was a kid. Everybody says Jesus was perfect and never sinned, but didn’t he lose it a bit that time? I say that with all reverence.

      I’m on board with the righteous indignation, but not with the violence or destruction of the property of others.

      And it got him killed. Maybe we should see that as God’s plan, and see it as necessary to provoke the authorities so that he would go to the cross.

      But I would have been the disciple counseling him to be cool. I’d have been, I’m afraid, like Judas in “Jesus Christ Superstar:”

      Listen, Jesus, to the warning I give.
      Please remember that I want us to live.
      But it’s sad to see our chances weakening with every hour….

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I also thought he had a point here:

        Woman your fine ointment, brand new and expensive
        Should have been saved for the poor.
        Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe
        Three hundred silver pieces or more.
        People who are hungry, people who are starving
        They matter more than your feet and hair!…

      2. Mr. Smith

        Yeah, that disciple’s name was Judas. Great source of advice !

        Sounds like Jesus shoulda been an op-ed columnist instead of an evangelist. SO much safer.

    2. Doug Ross

      I would vote for Booker.. the only issue I have with him is his penchant for grandstanding… he plays to the cameras a lot. But if that’s the worst thing, he’s fine. Gabbard, Buttigieg, Booker are all acceptable. Never Warren, Biden, Harris, or Castro. Beto would be better suited as a congressman. Bernie I’d vote for just because I’d like to see what would happen when reality sets in when many Democrats joins sides with Republicans to stop his initiatives. I’d rather see that than watch Warren crash and burn the economy or Biden be a figurehead like second term Reagan.

      1. David T

        How about the guy who’s advertising on the television every 10 minutes… ol’ what’s his name.

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