The date 02-02-2020 is not just a palindrome, it’s an amazing one. First, it has eight characters which is unusual since a palindrome has to make the same word when read both forward and backwards. Also, apparently, we won’t be treated to another eight-digit date for 900 years. Woah, impressive. That will be Sept. 2, 2090 or (09-02-2090). No danger of too much repetition on the palindrome front.
However, as I sit here, on Groundhog Day struggling to put words on a blank screen, I feel as though I have just lived through the longest three weeks in political history. The experience reminds me -- and many other folks I’ve talked with -- of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The political groundhog day experience ended Feb. 5.
On the one hand, it felt as though the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump was not over a minute too soon. On the other hand, wait! What!? How can it qualify as an actual trial if it’s held without the presentation of documents and the cross examination of witnesses?
The back and forth ping-ponging of the House managers making their case against President Trump and the President’s defense team’s rebuttals -- well, the word repetitive fails to convey the drama -- or frankly, lack of drama.
Watching, day after day, the same speakers, reiterating the exact same words endlessly had to put us all in a hypnotic stupor.
So, hooray, Groundhog Day is behind us. Right?
So, why am I uncomfortable?
Actually, I have always respected Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Still, when he presented his rationale for voting against calling witnesses in the trial that aimed to examine possible bribery on the part of the President, I was startled.
On Jan. 30, Sen. Alexander announced that he would vote against calling witnesses.
Alexander was the key vote that the Democratic senators needed to -- maybe -- be able to call related witnesses for the trial. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, both voted yeah in favor of hearing witnesses. In the end, Sen. Romney was the lone Republican who voted to convict the President. He said that he could do no less. I believe him! Unfortunately, his vote was, in effect, a token, however it made a statement.
After Sen. Alexander voted against hearing witnesses, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R- Alaska, also voted against witnesses. Again, I was disappointed.
Plus, I am still grappling to understand Alexander’s rationale:
Alexander’ explained, “I agree he did something inappropriate, but I don’t agree he did anything akin to treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. I think there’s a big gap there.”
Referring to an argument Trump’s attorney Alan Dershowitz made during the hearings, Alexander continued: “Forty presidents have been accused of abuse of power since Washington. So, many presidents have done inappropriate things. I think it’s appropriate for me as a United States senator to say, ‘Mr. President, you shouldn’t do that.’ But that doesn’t mean that I should take it upon myself to vote, to remove him from office and take him off the ballot. I think that’s up to the people.”
The President was accused of pressuring Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former US Vice-President Joe Biden and his son. Biden was -- at that moment -- the Democratic frontrunner in the primary race for the 2020 election. Presumably, the President thought investigating Biden would diminish the Democrat’s popularity, thus reducing Biden’s chances of winning the presidency in November.
The President denied trying to pressure the Ukranian President and also denied attempting to stall the disbursement of desperately needed defense funds to Ukraine.
Now, if the President is innocent, as he proclaims, shouldn’t he want to completely clear his name? Can the President really be content with acquittals based on a trial held without witnesses?
Of course, since Sen. Alexander claims to believe that the President acted inappropriately, that puts a bit of a crimp in the innocent plea.
Back to Sen. Alexander’s reasoning that what the President did was just inappropriate, but not that bad. Do we really want our future presidents to engage other nations’ leaders in trying to affect our elections? Sounds like a terrible idea. I suspect our founding fathers would cringe at such an idea. After all, back in the late 1770s through early 1800s, one of our founders’ greatest fears was that our nation would become a monarchy. The founders were all familiar with England’s King George III, who still looked power greedy.
The founders even worried that our friends, France and Spain, might try to exert undue pressure on our fledgling government.
Thus, it seems vital to make it perfectly clear that inviting other nations to “participate” in our election process is a definite no-no!
Unfortunately, the majority of senators attempted -- very successfully -- to ignore the entire foreign interference issue. I fear we will all live to rue that decision.
Now, as we move on from the impeachment “trial,” we are faced with the Democratic primaries.
Sadly, that looks like the press asking the same hackneyed questions and the candidates responding with the same tiresome answers.
Right, the campaign trail can start to feel like “Groundhog Day, Part II.”
Occasionally, news anchors and/or reporters approach the candidates, saying, “Shouldn’t you all get along? Why don’t you join together in order to win?”
I am sorry, what kind of question is that? November’s Election Day is -- politically speaking -- far, far away. Plus, the candidates need to maneuver the campaign trail through the primaries, from now through the spring.
Granted, there are some ideological differences between the supposed moderates and the supposed liberals.
However, the campaign trail is the place for those candidates to find common ground. How else can they do that if they do not engage in lively debate?
Lively debate does not mean the candidates are at each other’s’ throats. Although, sometimes the news makes it feel that they are. It appears to be an effort on the part of the media to make the campaign trail more exciting.
Lively debate should mean that we won’t have to put up with “Groundhog Day, Part II.” Plus, the candidate who ends up in the November Election will have had an opportunity to hone his/her ideas, so he/she should make a better leader.
My spouse -- who was once a Republican -- feels we need a leadership change. What brought him to this conclusion?
Note: We watch -- well, used to watch -- political news with some of our grandkids. It’s a habit we got into when they were still toddlers. OK, granted, we need to get a life.
Anyway, my spouse cringes at the possibility that our now elementary-school-aged grandkids might ask him, “Granddad, “Why is our President a potty mouth?”
That makes me cringe, as well. Enough said.
Pat Nevada, whose opinions are her own, lives near Gettysburg.