"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Preserving the Purity of our Essence

I really don't think there is a hue and cry in the nation (v. the virtual reality of Twitter) to impeach Trump and DO IT NOW!!  Especially since impeachment is only part of the action; the other is removing Trump from office (na gonna happen!).   But it's not only the willingness of the Senate to sit as an impartial jury (who ever said they would?), it's The Rules.

Lots of poo will be flung because Nancy Pelosi could not (or could, but the GOP made a stink about it) call Trump's tweets "racist."  But the rules of the House seem rather clear:  calling a Presidential statement "racist" is out of order for the decorum of the House.  Frankly, I think that's appropriate.  Remember the guy (now lost to history, though he had his 15 minutes) who called Obama a "liar!" at his first (?) SOTU?  Not a violation of House rules, as the House was not in session, but still, not appropriate behavior.  Once upon a time House members beat other members savagely in the House chamber.  If we want the House to devolve into a nightmare version of a playground, we remove rules like the one that says you can't call the President a racist.

It is a harsh label, and it should be.  And if the shoe fits; but you can't make the POTUS wear it from the floor of the House.   Next time (say, within 2 years) it'll be a GOP Speaker (or House member) saying it about a Democratic POTUS.  So, yeah, it's out of bounds.

Not that those who hate Trump with the burning heat of a thousand suns (as I said, the Lovely Wife said she'd vote for a cockroach over Trump, and she never talks that way) want to hear that; but rules are rules.  Rules keep us from simply removing Trump from office for being a bigot, and frankly that protection might keep a Pres. Warren in office when the right-wing has decided she represents a clear and present danger to the nation (tell me you don't see Trump that way.  Go on, be honest.)

Did you know there was a rule like this in the House Rules?  Or even a specific ruling from the House Parliamentarian about how the House should conduct its debates and discussions from the floor?  Neither did I, but nothing in government is conducted by whim and merely being the reigning office holder (Speaker of the House is a Constitutional office, but it's not a source of absolute power).  Government runs by rules, or it isn't government.  I get that Trump is offensive and even a vile racist and a xenophobe and unfit to be among civilized peoples.  He's probably a rapist, too, and surely guilty of sexual assault.  But none of that is going to remove him from office, and despite Josh Marshall's concerns (behind a paywall, or I'd link it) that Speaker Pelosi is not giving dissidents in the House their due (go and please the world, says I), Democrats either stand together against Trump, or they splinter again a year from November and decide their purity of essence is being taken from them by whoever the Democratic candidate is, and history rudely repeats itself.

I don't really think that's going to happen, because the Democratic primary voters, while less virtual than Twitter tweeters, is not really large enough to cost the candidate the race; and a large majority of the country would vote for the cockroach if that's what it took to get rid of Trump.  But what Democrats need to do is control Congress; and that is what they are refusing to focus on, in the name of animosity against Trump, and maintaining the purity of their political essence.

And now Speaker Pelosi is banned from speaking on the floor for the rest of the day.  Had she not called Trump's tweets "racist," had she carefully chosen her words to make her meaning clear while avoiding directly saying the words were "racist," she would probably have been criticized for her "cowardice" and euphemism.  She did say it, and now she's effectively gagged for the rest of the day. What was won?  Is she now forgiven for not being resolute enough?  Is she now a martyr to the cause of "speaking truth to power"?  Is she damned if she did, and if she didn't?  Yeah, pretty much.  Will it matter in the long run?  Will anyone even praise her for what she did as they damn the Parliamentarian?*

Will anybody, even Twitter, remember this tomorrow morning?

Well, some will, I suppose:

*Ironically, the name of the resolution includes the words "The President's Racist Tweets,"  One could argue (as no doubt they did) that Speaker Pelosi was identifying the resolution in her comments, not describing the President's words.  So you can name something the President wrote in a resolution, but you can't read the full words of that resolution on the House floor?  Again, put the shoe on the other foot and this is a sneaky way to get around House rules on decorum.  So I admire the irony, I don't decry it.  Rules are fascinating things.


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