Wednesday’s editorial page was the perfect microcosm of the state of our nation today.
Both sides of the political aisle agreed on just what a debacle President Donald Trump’s knee-jerk Syria pullout has been but then came to polar opposite conclusions about the result.
Jay Ambrose put it bluntly: “It was a disastrous, ignorant move serving no end but revived terrorism, murderous calamity for our Kurdish allies and uplift for a vile, power-seeking Turkish dictatorship.”
Trudy Rubin hammered it home: “But Trump’s precipitous Syria withdrawal reveals something even more unnerving than a betrayal of American values and interests. It reveals a disconnect from reality that should frighten us all.”
Ambrose gets beyond Syria and looks at the future in the context of the previous Iranian deal under former President Barack Obama and the current crop of 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidates: “If you were the Iranians, wouldn’t you figure it better fits your strategic objectives to wait a year until an election that just maybe could make your weaponizing ambitions hum again instead of kowtowing to Trump and not becoming a nuclear power?
“The best defense of Trump is that the other side is mostly worse.”
Rubin instead stays with the present and focuses on the man. Quoting retired Adm. William McRaven, former head of U.S. Special Operations Command, she said, “It is time for a new person in the Oval Office,” and adding her approval with, “the sooner the better.”
While I understand Rubin’s frustration in wanting Trump out of office, when I watch Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., running their little impeachment “inquiry” in the vein of Josef Stalin’s head of secret police, Lavrentiy Beria — “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” — I realize just how right Ambrose actually is.
A return to the Obama years and what got us here would be an even bigger disaster than the current pinball diplomacy of Trump.
Gen. James Mattis wrote in his book, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead,” of an exchange with then-Vice President Joe Biden: “If we pulled out too early, I noted, we would have to bring our troops back in.”
But rather than listen, Biden teased, “Know why you’re at CENTCOM?” Biden asked him. “Because no one else was dumb enough to take the job.” He followed it up with, “(Nouri al) Maliki (Iraqi prime minister) wants us to stick around because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise. ... I’ll bet you my vice presidency.”
By the end of 2011, American troops were indeed withdrawing as Mattis warned, “It would take many years and tens of thousands of casualties, plus untold misery for millions of innocents, to break ISIS’s geographic hold. ... All of this was predicted — and preventable.”
It’s well worth remembering that the man who helped precipitate that preventable disaster is the current front runner for the Democrat’s nomination for president.
In August 2016, I wrote in these pages, “And while I too have cringed at what has come out of Trump’s mouth, the thought of a Hillary Clinton presidency ... is a thought that should not be contemplated without medical supervision.”
I went on to remind that if Trump did get completely out of line, the impeachment process would remove him and President Mike Pence would carry us forward.
After eight years of an administration that brought America Fast and Furious, Benghazi, “Like your plan/doctor, keep your plan/doctor,” stroke-of-a-pen immigration mandates, more flexibility with Russia, the Islamic State group as a JV team, trading five Taliban terrorists for a cowardly deserter, IRS weaponized against conservative nonprofits, knowing of official communications routing through Clinton’s unsecured private server and doing nothing, and ultimately through the Iran deal financing the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism, there was truly no other choice but Trump.
I stand by that 2016 column regarding impeachment of Trump. But I cannot stand by whatever it is that Pelosi and Schiff are doing while calling it impeachment.
For all the talk of the president breaking norms and failing his oath of office, Speaker Pelosi’s refusal to follow established norms during such a solemn time is the biggest failing of all.
While impeachment itself is directed at the person, the process affects the office. And as Pelosi is currently running it, she has no more right to demand at will whatever bait Schiff can get his hands on for his little fishing expedition than the executive branch has the right to demand the same from Congress.
If you care about this country, the Constitution and the future of this Republic there is only one option: Follow the Nixon/Clinton precedent and provide the American people a fair and open process.
To allow blind hate for one man to shred the concept of balance of powers is not just adding more division to an already polarized nation, it comes dangerously close to permanently damaging the very Constitution House Democrats claim to be protecting.
Geoff Caldwell lives in Joplin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.