CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING IN AMERICA? ~ NYT OP/ED

We used to dream big. Now we’re increasingly thinking short term.

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

  • Feb. 23, 2021

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

In the last six months I’ve heard one phrase more often than I had in my previous 66 years: “Can you believe this is happening in America?”

As in: “I spent the whole day hunting online for a drugstore to get a Covid vaccination. Can you believe this is happening in America?”

“Fellow Americans ransacked our Capitol and tried to overturn an election. Can you believe this is happening in America?”

“People in Texas are burning their furniture for heat, boiling water to drink and melting snow to flush their toilets. Can you believe this is happening in America?”

But, hey, all the news is not bad. We just sent a high-tech buggy named Perseverance loaded with cameras and scientific gear 292 million miles into space and landed it on the exact dot we were aiming for on Mars! Only in America!

What’s going on? Well, in the case of Texas and Mars, the basic answers are simple. Texas is the poster child for what happens when you turn everything into politics — including science, Mother Nature and energy — and try to maximize short-term profits over long-term resilience in an era of extreme weather. The Mars landing is the poster child for letting science guide us and inspire audacious goals and the long-term investments to achieve them.

The Mars mind-set used to be more our norm. The Texas mind-set has replaced it in way too many cases. Going forward, if we want more Mars landings and fewer Texas collapses — what’s happening to people there is truly heartbreaking — we need to take a cold, hard look at what produced each.

The essence of Texas thinking was expressed by Gov. Greg Abbott in the first big interview he gave to explain why the state’s electricity grid failed during a record freeze. He told Fox News’s Sean Hannity: “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. … Our wind and our solar got shut down, and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid, and that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis. … It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.”

The combined dishonesty and boneheadedness of those few sentences was breathtaking. The truth? Texas radically deregulated its energy market in ways that encouraged every producer to generate the most energy at the least cost with the least resilience — and to ignore the long-term trend toward more extreme weather.

“After a heavy snowstorm in February 2011 caused statewide rolling blackouts and left millions of Texans in the dark,” The Times reported Sunday, “federal authorities warned the state that its power infrastructure had inadequate ‘winterization’ protection. But 10 years later, pipelines remained inadequately insulated” and the heaters and de-icing equipment “that might have kept instruments from freezing were never installed” — because they would have added costs.

As a result, it wasn’t just Texas wind turbines that froze — but also gas plants, oil rigs and coal piles, and even one of Texas’ nuclear reactors had to shut down because the frigid temperatures caused a disruption in a water pump to the reactor.

That was a result of Abbott’s Green Old Deal — prioritize the short-term profits of the oil, gas and coal industries, which provide him political campaign contributions; deny climate change; and dare Mother Nature to prove you wrong, which she did. And now Texas needs federal emergency funds. That is what we capitalists call “privatizing the gains and socializing the losses.” I don’t know what they call it in Texas.

But to disguise all that, Abbott trashed his state’s trendsetting wind and solar power — power it pulls from the sky free, with zero emissions, making rural Texans prosperous — in order to protect the burning of fossil fuels that enrich his donor base.

Abbott’s move was the latest iteration of a really unhealthy trend in America: We turn everything into politics — masks, vaccines, the weather, your racial identity and even energy electrons. Donald Trump last year referred to oil, gas and coal as “our kind of energy.” When energy electrons become politics, the end is near. You can’t think straight about anything.

“For a healthy politics to flourish it needs reference points outside itself — reference points of truth and a conception of the common good,” explained the Hebrew University religious philosopher Moshe Halbertal. “When everything becomes political, that is the end of politics.”

Making everything politics, added Halbertal, “totally distorts your ability to read reality.” And to do that with Mother Nature is particularly reckless, because she is the one major force in our lives “that is totally independent of our will.” And if you think you can spin her, Halbertal said, “the slap in the face that she will give you will be heard all across the world.”

You don’t have to listen too carefully to hear it. Although it is still too early to say for sure, the Texas freeze fits a recent pattern of increasingly destructive “global weirding.” I much prefer that term over “climate change” or “global warming.” Because what happens as average global temperatures rise, ice melts, jet streams shift and the climate changes is that the weather gets weird. The hots get hotter, the colds get colder, the wets get wetter, the dries get drier and the most violent storms get more frequent. Those once-in-100-years floods, droughts, heat waves or deep freezes start to happen every few years. That’s how we will experience climate change.

According to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: “The U.S. has sustained 285 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including C.P.I. adjustment to 2020). The total cost of these 285 events exceeds $1.875 trillion. … The years with 10 or more separate billion-dollar disaster events include 1998, 2008, 2011-2012, and 2015-2020.” This year, after this Texas disaster alone, could set a record — and we’re only in February.

If global weirding is our new normal, we need a whole new level of buffers, redundancies and supply inventories to create resilience for our power grids — and many more distributed forms of energy, like solar, that can enable households to survive when the grid goes down. Looking to maximize profits around fossil fuels in an age of global weirding is just begging to get hammered.

As Hal Harvey, C.E.O. of Energy Innovation, remarked to me: “Cavemen understood that you have to store things up to be secure. Birds know that. Squirrels know that. So, what are we doing? And what was Texas doing?”

Every leader needs to be asking those questions. Leadership always matters. But today, it matters more than ever at every level. Because in a slower age, if your city, state or country had a bad leader and got off track, the pain of getting back on track was tolerable. Now, when climate change, globalization and technology are all accelerating at once, small errors in navigation can have huge consequences. They can leave your community or country so far off track that the pain of getting back on track can be excruciating.

Just look at Texas and you’ll know what I mean. And just look up at Mars, and think of the mind-set that got us there, and you’ll know what needs to change.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A WOMAN-HATER ~ NYT

Rush Limbaugh made the G.O.P. the party of misogyny.

By Jill Filipovic

Ms. Filipovic is a journalist and lawyer whose work focuses on gender and politics. She is the author of “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind” and “The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness.”

  • Feb. 20, 2021
Credit…Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When the conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh died on Wednesday of complications from cancer, he ended a decades-long career as one of the most malignant and sadistic figures on the right.

His contributions to contemporary conservatism encouraged members of the Republican Party base to be meaner, smaller and more vulgar. He anchored his banter with a steady stream of invective, by turns promoting xenophobia, racism, homophobia and misogyny, teeing up a ready-made audience for the cruelty politics of Donald Trump.OPINION DEBATEFour views on Rush Limbaugh’s life and death.

But perhaps one of Mr. Limbaugh’s most significant and longest-lasting impacts, and one that will persist even if the party returns to a post-Trump “normal,” stemmed from his loud opposition to women’s rights: He was the right wing’s misogynist id.

His belligerent chauvinism was key in making the Republican Party the party of anti-feminism. Cracking open his slobbering hatred of women allows insight into his success, as well as the perversion of the party he championed.

Mr. Limbaugh burst on the national scene in the late 1980s during a national anti-feminist backlash and as the Republican Party was completing its turn away from libertarianism and toward the religious right. While he often gave rhetorical nods to the “pro-family” traditional values of the Moral Majority, he didn’t adopt its veneer of propriety — he was positively lascivious in his rhetoric, using ugliness and shock to promote embittered and unvarnished sexism, and he saw a world of opportunity in the party. Republicans, in turn, saw opportunity in him.

Mr. Limbaugh’s sexist provocations were myriad. He argued that women shouldn’t be allowed on juries if “the accused is a stud.” He claimed that “feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” (He wasn’t entirely wrong about that last bit — feminists do indeed want to live in a society where women have equal rights and equal access to resources and power regardless of how men rate our attractiveness. For Mr. Limbaugh, though, this was a mark against us.)

He really hit his stride when Bill Clinton ran for office. Mr. Clinton was accompanied by a feminist wife whose biography — a successful lawyer, an advocate for women’s and children’s rights, a woman who kept her own name and identity after marriage — often set off unhinged emotional outbursts from many Republicans, including Mr. Limbaugh.

Attacking Hillary Clinton in some of the ugliest terms possible became Mr. Limbaugh’s bread and butter, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that sustained his show through three decades. He helped build a cottage industry of Hillary-hate, insisting Mrs. Clinton had a “testicle lockbox” — a theme that, during her first presidential campaign, surfaced among opportunistic vendors selling Hillary nutcrackers.

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

OPINION: RESTORING SANITY TO THE GOP WILL TAKE YEARS. HERE’S HOW TO START ~ The Washington Post

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Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) in Pueblo West, Colo. on Sept. 4.
Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) in Pueblo West, Colo. on Sept. 4. (David Zalubowski/AP)

By Brian Klaas

On May 24, 2017, a Republican candidate for Congress assaulted a journalist. He grabbed the reporter’s neck with both hands, slammed him to the ground and began punching him. What did the journalist do to provoke the attack? He had asked the candidate a question about his position on health-care reform. The candidate — who initially lied about the attack — was arrested. He ultimately pleaded guilty to assault.

What happened next illustrates the core problem with the modern, Trumpified Republican Party. The candidate who performed the assault was elected in the 2017 special election, reelected in 2018, and is now Montana’s governor. His name is Greg Gianforte.

Gianforte’s ascent tells you everything you need to know about today’s Republican Party. Disqualifying, extremist behavior isn’t just tolerated in the modern GOP — it’s encouraged. If America is going to have a functioning center-right party — and it sorely needs one for democracy to survive — then Republicans need to find a way to stop rewarding violent thugs, crackpot conspiracists, and those who troll Democrats on social media rather than solving problems.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and recently elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) offer an instructive comparison. Before winning a seat in Congress, Boebert had been arrested and summoned at least four times. Another time, she failed to show up for a court appointment, telling the judge she had forgotten which day of the week it was. “I am now aware today is Friday,” she explained.

Nonetheless, Boebert knocked off Scott R. Tipton, a five-term Republican incumbent in the primary. Tipton was unapologetically pro-Trump, but not extreme enough for Boebert.

Since getting elected, Boebert has established herself as a GOP firebrand. She soared to national prominence with a viral campaign ad in which she pledged to “carry my Glock” to Congress. Just hours before a violent mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6., Boebert wrote on Twitter that “Today is 1776.” When the mob left, Boebert then voted to overturn the results of November’s presidential election. Despite being one of the most junior figures in the House, she has been rewarded with high-profile interviews on Fox News. More than a half-million people follow her on Twitter. She is a national Republican star because of her extremism.

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

TRUMP’S NON-VINDICATION ~ WSJ

He may run again, but he won’t win another national election.

By The Editorial Board

Feb. 14, 2021

Former President Donald Trump departs after speaking about the 2020 U.S. presidential election results in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Nov. 5, 2020. PHOTO: CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

The Senate failed Saturday to convict Donald Trump on the single House impeachment article of inciting an insurrection, but the 57-43 vote was no vindication. The statements by Senators who voted to acquit make clear that he escaped conviction mainly—perhaps only—because he is no longer President.

Seven Republicans joined every Democrat in the most bipartisan conviction vote in history. While short of the 67 votes needed to convict, most Republicans didn’t defend Mr. Trump’s words or actions on Jan. 6 or his attempts to overturn the election. As we’ve written before, Mr. Trump’s behavior was inexcusable and will mar his legacy for all time.

***

That was the essence of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s post-trial remarks. The GOP leader voted against conviction but explicitly because he said the Constitution reserves the impeachment power only for Presidents while in office. Scholars disagree on this point, and there are good arguments on both sides. Mr. McConnell leaned on the writing of the 19th-century Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. But he also noted that impeaching a private citizen had no “limiting principle,” and could set a dangerous precedent.

This is no mere “technicality,” as Democrats and their media echoes are calling it. Democrats spent days invoking the Constitution in the trial, but suddenly it’s a technicality after the trial. Most Republicans also cited the constitutional claim that Mr. McConnell used to justify acquittal, as did the Senators in 1876 who acquitted the former Secretary of War, William Belknap, after he had resigned in the only other ex-post trial.

But Mr. McConnell was lacerating in his criticism of Mr. Trump’s words and actions, which he blamed for deceiving and motivating supporters who had assembled on Jan. 6 at the President’s urging and became a mob. “Former President Trump’s actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty,” Mr. McConnell said. “There’s no question—none—that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

He added that the rioters had been “fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth–because he was angry he’d lost an election.” 

All of this was compounded by Mr. Trump’s failure to act with dispatch to call off the rioters once he heard what was happening. Mr. Trump’s defenders blame Speaker Nancy Pelosiand the District of Columbia government for lack of preparedness, which is fair enough. Some of the riot leaders may also have pre-planned the assault, and there is much police still haven’t disclosed.

But none of that absolves Mr. Trump for refusing for hours to ask his supporters to stand down. Mr. Trump’s Jan. 6 early-afternoon comments to House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy dismissing a plea to call off the rioters, as related second-hand by GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, are further evidence of Mr. Trump’s dereliction. As Mr. McConnell also noted, Senate acquittal does not absolve Mr. Trump of potential criminal or civil liability for actions he took in office.

As for the seven GOP Senators who voted to convict, they deserve respect for their independent judgment. As Edmund Burke famously explained to the Bristol electors in 1774, “It is his duty [as a Member of Parliament] to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living.”

Senators Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey in particular offered explanations rooted in constitutional principle. Local or state GOP committees that vote to censure them are playing into the hands of Democrats, whose goal has been to divide Republicans over loyalty to one man—Donald Trump.

***

On that point, what next? In her fury on Saturday, Mrs. Pelosi ruled out a vote of censure. But Democrats in the Trump era have already turned impeachment into a form of censure. We’d still support such a resolution, though not if it includes language from Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment barring Mr. Trump from holding federal office again. 

That would result in another partisan vote and let Mr. Trump tell his supporters that elites are disenfranchising them. Mr. McConnell might have cited this as another argument for Senate acquittal, since conviction would have led to a simple majority vote to disqualify Mr. Trump. Far better to trust the voters to render their judgment if Mr. Trump chooses to run again. 

This is also the context in which to understand Mr. McConnell’s vote and his post-trial statement. Like Mike Pompeo, Paul Ryan and many others, Mr. McConnell has spent the years since 2016 navigating the respect he owes the voters who elected Mr. Trump and the President’s profound character flaws. 

This wasn’t “enabling” Mr. Trump. The voters did that in 2016, aided by the Democrats who nominated Hillary Clinton. For four years Mr. Trump’s conduct stayed largely within constitutional bounds—no matter his rhetorical excesses and Democratic efforts to drive him from office by violating norms and flogging conspiracy theories. But Mr. Trump’s dishonest challenge to the 2020 election, even after multiple defeats in court, clearly broke those bounds and culminated in the Jan. 6 riot.

Mr. Trump may run again, but he won’t win another national election. He lost re-election before the events of Jan. 6, and as President his job approval never rose above 50%. He may go on a revenge campaign tour, or run as a third-party candidate, but all he will accomplish is to divide the center-right and elect Democrats. The GOP’s defeats in the two Jan. 5 Georgia Senate races proved that. 

The country is moving past the Trump Presidency, and the GOP will remain in the wilderness until it does too.

OPINION: NOW BEGINS MCCONNELL’S PROJECT TO SHRINK TRUMP’S GOP INFLUENCE ~ The Washington Post

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Saturday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Saturday. (U.S. Senate Tv/Via Reuters)

Opinion by George F. WillColumnistFeb. 14, 2021

One of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s many admirable traits is that he is uninterested in being admired. He uses his demeanor to disguise the fact that he has normal feelings and so might welcome public approbation for his decisions. He does not, however, make public decisions for the goal of pleasing the public. His 2006 nay vote was decisive in preventing Congress from sending to the states for swift ratification a popular constitutional amendment that would have overturned the Supreme Court ruling that flag burning is constitutionally protected political expression.

McConnell knew that if he voted on Saturday to convict Donald Trump, he would have been lionized, briefly, by many of his detractors, who are legion. Because he is the most consequential conservative since Ronald Reagan, his vote would have begun a process to which he is committed, that of making Trump inconsequential. But the time is not quite ripe. Like the author of Ecclesiastes, the Senate minority leader knows that to every thing there is a season.

McConnell’s argument against impeaching a former president is: Impeachment is “a narrow tool for a narrow purpose” — “to protect the country from government officers.” Hence Trump “is constitutionally not eligible for conviction,” and convicting him might imply a Senate power, with “no limiting principle,” to “convict and disqualify [from holding public office] any private citizen.”

With characteristic parsimony regarding information about his feelings, McConnell said only that were Trump still in office, he, McConnell, “would have carefully considered” arguments for conviction. McConnell’s preceding words, however, indicate such a vote to convict: Trump fed his supporters “wild falsehoods” making him “practically and morally responsible” for Jan. 6, which was “a foreseeable consequence” of “false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole” and a “manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe,” all “orchestrated” by Trump, who then “feign[ed]” surprise about his mob’s behavior, as he “watched television happily.”

McConnell knows that Trump’s grip on the Republican base — its activist core, which is disproportionately important in candidate-selection primaries — remains unshaken. But not unshakable. Trump might soon have a bruising rendezvous with the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. (While explaining his opposition to the Senate’s convicting Trump, McConnell pointedly noted that “impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice,” and that “we have a criminal justice system” and “we have civil litigation.”) Trump’s potential problems, legal and financial, might shrink his stature in the eyes of his still-mesmerized supporters. McConnell knows, however, that the heavy lifting involved in shrinking Trump’s influence must be done by politics.

He has his eyes on the prize: 2022, perhaps the most crucial nonpresidential election year in U.S. history. It might determine whether the Republican Party can be a plausible participant in the healthy oscillations of a temperate two-party system.

In Republican Senate primaries for open seats in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alabama and perhaps elsewhere, and against Senate incumbents, too — and in the challenge to Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), third-ranking in the Republican House leadership, who voted to impeach — Trump probably will endorse acolytes. They will mimic his sulfuric rhetoric and, if nominated, many will lose in November.

McConnell remembers, if few others do, the names of Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell (“I dabbled into witchcraft,” but “I’m not a witch”), Missouri’s Todd Akin (“legitimate rape” does not cause pregnancy), Indiana’s Richard Mourdock (a woman made pregnant by her rapist is carrying a “gift from God”), Nevada’s Sharron Angle (“Second Amendment remedies” might cure Congress’s shortcomings) and others who won and then squandered Republican Senate nominations in 2010 and 2012. This was before McConnell began wielding the national party’s resources in defense of its interests in state parties’ decisions.

A McConnell vote to convict Trump on Saturday would have made it easier for the ex-president’s minions to cast the coming 2022 intraparty contests as binary Trump-vs.-McConnell choices. No one’s detestation of Trump matches the breadth and depth of McConnell’s, which includes a professional’s disdain for a dilettante. Trump enthusiasts are as hostile to McConnell as progressives are. He is equally impervious to the disapproval of both factions.

The Senate chaplain’s prayer that opened the impeachment trial’s first day included a familiar stanza from James Russell Lowell’s 1845 poem written during heated national debates about slavery and the looming war with Mexico: “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, / In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side.” A political “moment” can, however, be a protracted process, as McConnell, who titled his 2016 memoir “The Long Game,” understands.

HISTORY WILL FIND TRUMP GUILTY ~ The New Yorker

By David Remnick

February 13, 2021

The silhouette of Former President Donald Trump
Donald Trump avoided conviction by a vote of 57–43, but the Democratic impeachment managers presented overwhelming evidence of his culpability.Photograph by Saul Loeb / Getty
  • On January 18th, two days before relinquishing power and flying off to his tropical exile, Donald Trump did what tyrants love to do: he attempted to rewrite the history of his nation.

His instrument was the 1776 Commission, a motley assemblage of right-wing academics, activists, and pols who called for “patriotic education” in the schools and the construction of a National Garden of American Heroes that would “reflect the awesome splendor of our country’s timeless exceptionalism.” The garden would feature statues of Bogart and Bacall, Alex Trebek, and Hannah Arendt. The era of Trump will be recalled for its authoritarian politics, its lawless compulsions, and its hallucinogenic properties.

It is not difficult to imagine how the members of the 1776 Commission would evaluate Trump’s second impeachment trial. They, like the great majority of Republicans in the Senate, would vote for acquittal. Trump avoided conviction by a vote of 57–43 on Saturday, but history—history as it is assembled through the rigorous accumulation and analysis of fact—will not be so forgiving. Throughout the trial, the Democratic impeachment managers presented overwhelming evidence of Trump’s criminal culpability, his incitement of the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol. Their case was clear: for months, Trump sought to undermine, then reverse, a national election, and, when he ran out of options, after he was thwarted by various state election officials and the courts, he proved willing to see the lives of his own Vice-President, the Speaker of the House, and other members of Congress endangered so that he might retain power.

There is a long history of violence against democratic processes and voters in America: in the eighteen-fifties, nativist gangs like the Plug Uglies set out to intimidate immigrant voters; in the eighteen-seventies, white Southerners formed “rifle clubs” and attacked Black voters to hasten the end of Reconstruction. But this event was unique in U.S. history. This mob was inspired by a President.

After final arguments on the floor of the Senate on Friday night, I spoke with Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District and who was the lead impeachment manager for Trump’s trial. Shortly after we began talking about the proceedings, Raskin cut himself off for a moment, saying that he needed to collect his thoughts.

“I have to admit,” he said, “I’m exhausted.” For Raskin, the trial was the least of it. On the day before the assault on the Capitol, Raskin and his family had buried his son Tommy, a brilliant young man who was suffering from depression and took his own life on New Year’s Eve. And yet, despite the weight of that unspeakable tragedy, Raskin guided the prosecution of Trump in the Senate chamber with a grace, an unadorned eloquence, rarely, if ever, witnessed in our degraded civic life.

Raskin paused and went on, telling me, “Look, Trump’s motivation was clear. He wanted to prolong and delay the certification of the Electoral College votes in hopes of putting so much pressure on the Vice-President and Congress that we would cave. And then the President would try to force the election into the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would have one vote and the Republicans have a majority of the states. All of his concentration was on thwarting the count so that the Vice-President would be forced to say there’s a need for a contingent election. That is what the President had in mind, and he came dangerously close to succeeding. And at that point he could also have decried the chaos and declared martial law.”

In recent weeks, the impeachment managers assembled voluminous evidence—not least, visual evidence from inside and outside the Capitol building on the day of the violent uprising. Watching images of the mob swarming through the marble halls of the Capitol and baying for vengeance, I was startled to realize how the true nature of the event, the degree of its violence and bloody-mindedness, the calls to capture, even assassinate, leading figures in the U.S. government, was not fully known to the American people in real time. It was sickening to watch men and women lugging Confederate symbols and shouting deranged slogans—“1776!”—pound on the doors of members of Congress, eager for violence. It’s no less sickening to imagine the cynicism required of Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Lindsey Graham, and so many other Republican senators to dismiss the case as outside the bounds of the Constitution or as an instance of political opportunism.

Joaquin Castro, a Texas congressman who spoke with clarity and passion as an impeachment manager, told me that during the long hours of the trial it seemed to him that Republican senators were attentive as they watched film and listened to descriptions of the insurrectionist violence. “There was a lot of evidence they hadn’t seen,” Castro said, recalling how close the raging mobs had come to descending on Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and others and how viciously they attacked officers of the Capitol Police. The impeachment managers recited the number of the dead, the wounded, the suicides in the days after. “There were times when they were clearly moved by what they were seeing and hearing,” Castro said. “But then later I’d read reports at the end of the day that nothing had changed. The very idea that the evidence was horrific and the events tragic—it wasn’t getting through enough.”

What’s become evident is that Republican members of Congress fear not only the indignity of losing a primary; some have come to fear the potential for violence among their constituents. Rather than persuade, resist, or prosecute such people, they placate them. To do so, they bow in the direction of Palm Beach.

On Friday night, the CNN reporter Jamie Gangel issued a startling report that the Republican House leader, Kevin McCarthy, had phoned Trump during the riot and pleaded with him to call off the mob. Trump told McCarthy that the rioters were Antifa. According to Gangel’s congressional sources, McCarthy told Trump that no, “These are your people.”

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump replied.

“Who the fuck do you think you are talking to?” McCarthy reportedly responded.

Gangel’s account made plain Trump’s colossal disregard for the lives of his own Vice-President and the members of Congress. His only interest was to foment maximal chaos, with the hopes of overturning an election he had lost by a wide margin.

McCarthy’s courage proved as fleeting as a spring shower. A week after Joe Biden’s Inauguration, McCarthy flew to Palm Beach and showed his fealty to the disgraced former President. Trump’s persisting capacity to raise funds for the Republican Party could not be ignored. How could McCarthy stand for principle if circumstances would soon demand Trump’s appearance at a chicken dinner? In one of the overstuffed parlors of Mar-a-Lago, McCarthy and Trump posed for a photographer. McCarthy managed a pained smile and issued a tortured statement on the fruits of his journey. “Today, President Trump committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022,” McCarthy said. “For the sake of our country, the radical Democrat agenda must be stopped.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, also proved to be in only temporary possession of a spine. After sending moralistic “signals” to reporters and colleagues that he was repelled by Trump’s behavior, he declared himself on Saturday morning ready to forgive and forget. “While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” he said in an e-mail to his Republican colleagues, saying that he would vote to acquit. McConnell’s note insured that there would be no last-minute turn against Trump. It was, of course, McConnell who had scheduled the trial to take place after Trump was out of office.

No less incredibly (or predictably), Mike Pence could not bring himself to denounce Trump, either. The impeachment managers recalled during the trial that at 2:24 p.m. on the day of the insurrection, only eleven minutes after Pence had been hustled out of the Senate chamber, Trump tweeted that his Vice-President lacked the “courage” to forestall certification. Trump knew from talking to Senator Tommy Tuberville, of Alabama, that Pence was in danger. Tuberville told reporters, “I said, ‘Mr. President, they just took our Vice-President out, they’re getting ready to drag me out of here. I got to go.’ ”

Five days after the insurrection, Pence met with Trump in the Oval Office. The meeting was described by White House sources as awkward. Pence was encountering a President who had left him for dead. And yet he repressed any sign of resentment or worse. The Washington Postreported, through Vice-Presidential sources, that Pence was “frustrated” with Trump but that he did not “share the animus or fury that some of his former aides have for the President.” Trump, Pence told allies, was merely getting “bad advice” from his senior staff about the election.

Sensing opportunity in the Republican Party’s moral-positioning sweepstakes for 2024, Nikki Haley, who served the Trump Administration as United Nations Ambassador, told a reporter for Politico that she was “disgusted” by Trump’s behavior. At first, when Trump was merely spinning a conspiracy theory about the election and embedding it in the Party’s consciousness, Haley had been dismissive of a second impeachment. “At some point, I mean, give the man a break,” she had said. “I mean, move on.” But things have changed. “I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture,” Haley said, of Trump’s potential role in the next election cycle. “I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”

Back in the reality-based community, the impeachment managers repressed their knowledge that they would not likely win the sixty-seven votes needed for a conviction. They methodically made their case that Trump’s incitement was not a matter of a single speech at the Ellipse before the march to the Capitol. It was a long accumulation of rhetoric and action, of calls to violence, of incendiary tweets and retweets, of encouraging or applauding violent action in Charlottesville, in Michigan, on I-35 in Texas, on the debate stage (“Stand back and stand by”). The most dangerous conspiracy theory in the land had nothing to do with Jewish space lasers or child-molestation rings. Trump’s story of his election “victory,” a theory conceived months before the ballot, was the source material of a nativist insurrection that could easily have ended not with five dead but with many dozens.

“He truly made his base believe that the only way he could lose was if the election was rigged,” Joaquin Castro said during one of his trial speeches. “And, Senators, all of us know, and all of us understand how dangerous that is for our country. Because the most combustible thing you can do in a democracy is convince people an election doesn’t count, that their voice and their vote don’t count, and that it’s all been stolen—especially if what you’re saying are lies.”

The trial ended in a sour acquittal. A shamed ex-President would inevitably declare victory.

But it is no victory at all. Within hours of his Inauguration, Joe Biden cancelled the plans of the 1776 Commission. Propaganda would not become the law of the land. In his closing argument, Raskin quoted a Black Capitol Police officer who, after being called the N-word repeatedly, after his fellow-officers were beaten, abused, bashed with flag poles, and sprayed with bear repellent, asked, “Is this America?” History will judge Donald Trump severely for his crimes against the United States.