Presidential impeachment

A few months after the 37th president of the United States resigned when faced with the near certainty of impeachment, his one-time senior adviser Henry Kissinger gave his verdict on the former leader of the free world.

Presidential impeachment

A few months after the 37th president of the United States resigned when faced with the near certainty of impeachment, his one-time senior adviser Henry Kissinger gave his verdict on the former leader of the free world.

Richard Nixon, he confided, was both more evil and much better than most people presumed. His primary failings, Kissinger said, were laziness and a reluctance to read important documents.

Nixon’s crime was to lie to his country about his knowledge of political dirty tricks and, in particular, attempts to cover up what has gone down in history as a ‘second-rate burglary’ — the Watergate affair.

Despite “bringing the boys home from Vietnam” he failed to garner a peace dividend less than two years after one of the biggest landslide victories in American political history left him appearing invulnerable.

For Nixon, the moral flaws which had dogged his career were camouflaged or explained away until relentless pressure and scrutiny from the media, the dislike of which this divisive former president shared with the divisive current president, finally toppled him.

That, and the admission that conversations and telephone calls within the White House had been covertly, and from the perspective of Congressional investigators, helpfully, recorded.

This was the smoking gun that triggered the eventual departure of Richard Milhous Nixon. The only two presidents before Donald Trump who have been impeached, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, suffered on counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and failure to implement civil rights legislation in the febrile aftermath of the American Civil War.

By way of comparison to Nixon, the 45th president of the United States is an officer of the state hiding in plain sight. He has made light of the process, telling a rally that “it’s impeachment lite. I don’t know about you, but I’m having a good time.”

This from a man accused of commandeering his country’s foreign policy for his personal benefit. His predecessor could at least point to an election commitment in 1972 pledging US military disengagement from south-east Asia.

There was no such hustings undertaking to the American people to hold back millions of dollars of military assistance to a Ukraine sorely pressed by its aggressive neighbour Russia in order to prosecute domestic political advantage.

In the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, there was a queue of representatives from his own party, the Democrats, lining up to condemn their leader and their president for conduct unbecoming. Yet the Republicans in this week’s hearing have resembled nothing so much as a group of cheerleaders or a marching band for narrow self- interest.

In other words, they have put party considerations ahead of the constitutional priorities of their country.

There is a saying in life as much as in politics that sometimes things have to get worse before they can become better.

Part of that process may be the token dismissal of charges by a Republican majority in the Senate when Donald Trump comes to trial, probably next month.

However, we can say with some certainty that, with this incumbent, matters will certainly become worse.

And there will eventually come a tipping point which will persuade supporters that their nation must come first and act accordingly.

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