The Case for Impeachment, in Pop Culture References
(Or, One Thing on One Night)
It’s a big reward.
For one night’s work.
Sometimes a guy…
Sometimes, a man…
If he wants a reward…
That’s absolutely right.
He’ll do one thing.
One thing on one night.
The dialogue between the characters of Alan Arkin and Ed Harris in Glengarry Glen Ross keeps popping into my mind. Playwright David Mamet won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his play, later adapted into a 1992 film. In the ratio of A-list actors to entire credited on-screen cast, this may rank #1 of all time. Out of the 13 amazing actors, 7 of them are stars: Al Pacino. Jack Lemmon. Alec Baldwin. Alan Arkin. Ed Harris. Jonathan Pryce. And Kevin Spacey (RIP). I mean, WTF. In fairness, it’s also heavily cis-gendered straight white male but, man, is the acting good. Pun intended.
Without giving too much away, Arkin and Harris are plotting a crime. And they justify it in the simplest of terms, the way one does a robbery or a one-night stand: “He’ll do one thing. One thing on one night.”
One thing on one night.
The conventional wisdom is that the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump appears to be a, to take a page out of David Brent’s band, FOREGONE CONCLUSION. The likely vote is 44 votes for and 56 votes against, well short of the 67 needed for conviction. And despite the fact that those 44 Senators would probably represent a majority of the US population, it won’t be enough. Yet I can’t help but think what I’d do in that situation.
It’s an open secret in Washington that most of the GOP Senators loathe the President. Even when they agree with his economic policies and admire the expediency of his conservative judiciary appointments, they deeply resent having their heads banged together like he’s Mo and they’re the rest of The Three Stooges. (Not to be confused with The Three Amigos in-charge of our shadow Ukrainian policy.)
But in all probability, we’re looking at the GOP’s sticking together behind this President. As the National Review’s Rich Lowry pointed out, Republicans’ fate is tied to him. The GOP base is in love with the Cult of Trump. If you sink him, you sink your own ship. But there’s a chance that the GOP Senators see it the way I do:
Dump Trump, Hence Pence.
Mike Pence is like a new and improved drug. All the benefits of the old medicine, without the side effects. You get your same great economy and reactionary pro-life judges, sans the heartburn caused by excessive tweeting.
Former Arizona Senator and Current Pussy Jeff Flake confirmed that he believed at least 35 Senators privately want Trump gone so things can get back to normal, normal being that they can continue to profit being part of the ruling class whilst largely ignoring the demands of the people they serve. (This post is fraught with irony, because the insane thing is that Trump has mostly served the needs of the rich instead of the poor, but that’s a different post for a different day.)
Thirty-five Senators would vote for impeachment if the vote were private. 35. Can you even believe that? We only need 20 for impeachment if every Democrat votes for it. That said, all Democrats are unlikely to vote for impeachment in the House or conviction in the Senate, which doesn’t show that the case is weak but that the Democrats are more diverse, reasonable, and inclusive. But still… 35 is a shocking number of Republicans… far more than what is needed.
Stacked Septuagenarian and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made zero — count ’em — zero unforced errors throughout the impeachment process. Per what Tom Hagen said to Michael Corleone as Hyman Roth outmaneuvered the Don (up to a point), “Roth, he… played this one beautifully.” Democrats were like William Wallace in Braveheart: “Steady… HOLD… HOLD… HOLD… HOLD… NOW!”
I kept thinking the Democrats would go in early and try to get Trump on something relatively small, like how Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize not for relativity but for the photoelectric effect. Or how Al Capone was taken down not for racketeering but for tax evasion. Or how Martin Scorsese won Best Director at the Academy Awards not for Goodfellas but for The Departed. But no. They resisted and resisted and resisted and resisted until their hand was forced.
The plain fact is that the Democrats are defending the Constitution and the country. This isn’t opinion; it’s fact. Conservatives had an argument on immigration that was so good even the liberal MSNBC anchor of Hardball with Chris Matthews was quoting it: “Either we have a country or we don’t.” A fence or a wall may not be the answer but he (and I) loved the fact that we have to draw some kind of a line. So, let me get this straight: conservatives want to prevent illegals from crossing the border and invading our country, which is more than understandable and reasonable. But those same conservatives are totally OK with an adversary like Russia illegally invading our election? Huh?
The thing is this: we don’t know what will happen in the trial. For fun, I pulled up NBA bloopers on YouTube. With the clock winding down, a player celebrates his impending victory by flinging the basketball high into the air. Well, as luck (or gravity) would have it, it returns to the floor… the Toronto Raptors’ Morris Peterson chucks it up, NAILS the shot, and it goes to overtime. As Tommy Lee Jones says in the greatest film of the millennium thus far, No Country For Old Men:
“You know Charlie Walser? He’s got that place out east of Sanderson? Well you know how they used to slaughter beefs, hit ’em right there with a maul…truss ’em up and slit their throats? Here Charlie’s got one all trussed up and all set to drain him… and the beef comes to. It starts thrashing around. Six hundred pounds of very pissed-off livestock, if you’ll excuse me. Well. Charlie grabs his gun there to shoot the damn thing in the head…but with all the swayin’ and then the trashin’ it’s a glance-shot and ricochets around and comes back hits Charlie in the shoulder. You go see Charlie, he still can’t pick up his right hand for his hat… The point bein’: even in the contest between man and steer, the issue is not certain.”
Contrary to the yahoos on the right who keep saying that Democrats came to Washington to impeach Trump: no, they didn’t. They didn’t do it after general unfitness. Or emoluments. Or campaign finance violations (Stormy Daniels). Or the Mueller Report.
(The Mueller Report had two parts. Part I was about Conspiracy and Coordination (layman’s term: collusion) and Part II was about Obstruction of Justice. Attorney General and Fat Asshole Bill Barr, a follower of unitary executive theory (which literally argues the President can do whatever he wants — further irony for conservatives who say government interferes too much in our lives), beat Democrats to the punch with his four-page summary of Mueller’s 400-page report. But what the Dems never plainly stated was this: the REASON Trump got away with Conspiracy is BECAUSE of Obstruction. Part II CAUSED Part I.)
The Democrats are rightfully making the case that Trump is a clear and present danger to the nation. This is not about the 2016 election. Trump has got to go because he’s trying to cheat in the NEXT election, which cuts to the very core of our democracy.
Just like in A Few Good Men, “These are the facts of the case and they are undisputed.” Notice the right wing is making no actual substantive points. They can’t. It’s all smokescreen and BS about process. 70% of the US public believes what Trump did was wrong. And it is. It’s not up for debate. It’s in the US Constitution and the Democrats had no choice but to impeach. It’s not a political choice; they’re compelled to do so by law. When people say, “The Democrats should do their job,” that argument is weak for two reasons:
1. Oversight IS their job. The legislative branch exists to pass legislation and conduct oversight of the other two branches.
2. They are still working with this President, approving his updated NAFTA agreement, passing a budget, and purporting their own health care bills. Recall Americans overwhelmingly voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterms as oversight/backstop on Trump and also to defend health care.
The ultimate irony here is it’s the REPUBLICANS who are the Law & Order party. What do they seemingly always say when a young black man gets shot by the cops? “COMPLY.” Crazy they’re willing to give this President a pass on anything he does — literally anything. If you get pulled over by the police, you can’t win the argument by saying you don’t agree with the speed limit. If it’s 35 mph, you must go 35 mph or below. Them’s the rules. It is not up to you to decide the speed limit. It is up to you to follow it or not; if you don’t, there are consequences. So, if Trump broke the law, no American is above it and he has to face the music.
For the Dems to do nothing is to be complicit. I was just in New York, which features no dearth of signs that read: “If You See Something, Say Something.” You don’t report it, you’re as guilty as the criminal. (You saw the last episode of Seinfeld, right?)
All that aside, all Republicans have to do is make like John McCain during the health care vote and point their thumbs down on this President.
As it’s been said, just think if Barack Obama had called up the Ukrainian leader and asked him to declare an investigation of Mitt Romney or else he wasn’t going to release $400 million of taxpayer money to an ally. Imagine the outrage. Or, to paraphrase Matt McConaughey in A Time to Kill, “Now imagine he’s black.”
Alright, alright, alright…
Trump Supporters love to use the word “cuck.” It’s a dirty word that’s short for “cuckold.” It’s a man who lets another man screw his wife. The irony here is that Trump Supporters are knowingly allowing Russia to screw America. THEY’RE THE CUCKS. Can’t anybody see that?
Put another way, Trump loves to says America First. How about putting Americans First and not asking a foreign power to investigate a fellow American?
My boss’ boss’ boss at P&G used to roll his eyes and say about other departments, “They already made up their minds and are now trying to justify it. I call it Decision-Based Principle-Making.” That’s what this is. Decision-Based Principle-Making.
Many people like to say they’d go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler. Well, here’s your chance. I’m not saying Trump is Hitler and I’m not advocating violence of any kind, in any way, shape, or form. I’m just asking you to stand up and do the right thing, the thing you know in your heart to be morally true.
On the one hand, I can see why liberals blew a lot of their credibility. They (we) have been crying wolf since 2015. We kept saying the sky is falling and yet the economy is on fire and we are not at war and the lights are on. But for once, this isn’t about the economy, stupid. It’s about “the Republic, for which it stands.” Look, I get it that a lot of this is social and cultural and multigenerational Americans are rightfully fearful about what the multiethnic, automated, free-for-all-pronoun-world is bringing to their doorstep. But right is right. And you know, deep down in your heart of hearts, that what Trump did is wrong and that we have to have a free and fair election. This is nothing less than a battle for the soul of America.
GOP Senators, I’m not even asking you to stand for party over country. I’m asking you to stand up for your own branch of government. To not let the executive branch run roughshod over your jobs. Is that really so hard? To stand up for YOURSELVES?
In the words of John Lennon, “you may say that I’m a dreamer,” but you have an opportunity here.
To pull a Marty McFly and snatch the sports almanac from Biff Tannen.
To pull a Sarah Connor and destroy Cyberdyne Systems.
To pull a George Bailey and not jump off a bridge.
This is that chance. “One shot, one opportunity.” #Eminem
If you could take down your adversary in one motion, wouldn’t you do it? I know I would.
It’s one act. One fell swoop.
ONE THING ON ONE NIGHT.
It’s unlikely. But it’s possible.
God Bless America. And God Help Us if we don’t get this right.
Rajiv Satyal is a standup comic. He resides in Los Angeles, CA.