Yes, Acquittal Is Vindication

A little before 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump in the long-running “Impeach Donald Trump!” show brought to you by leaky Democrats and their public-relations consortium, the corporate leftist media and Big Tech. The vote was 57 to 43, largely along party lines, wholly along ideological lines. That is, the seven Republicans who broke ranks and joined the Democrats to convict President Trump are Republicans in name only. You will want to remember who they are: 

  • Richard Burr from North Carolina
  • Bill Cassidy from Louisiana 
  • Susan Collins from Maine 
  • Lisa Murkowski from Alaska 
  • Mitt Romney from Utah 
  • Ben Sasse from Nebraska 
  • Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania

Some of these “Elevated Conservatives”™—Burr and Toomey, for example—have announced that they will not be running again. Here’s a prediction: none will be elected again, but that is a good thing.

Well, I think it is a good thing. But then I think that an acquittal is a vindication. I know that there are some intermittently conservative organs that disagree. They believe, or at least they say, that Trump’s acquittal does not mean he was vindicated. The proposition that Donald Trump is in the wrong is an analytic truth for them. Like the proposition “all bachelors are unmarried,” they regard it as a necessary truth. It is something inarguable. 

It is worth noting, however, that these are the same organs that couldn’t stop berating Trump—the most pro-life, pro-Israel, pro-prosperity, pro-middle class, and pro-American president in decades (maybe ever)—while he was president. And they are also the same organs that, come tomorrow, will be wringing their hands over Joe Biden’s pro-abortion, pro-China, pro-totalitarian attacks on American freedom and prosperity. They prefer whining to wielding power, I suspect, and actually seem to believe that an incompetent mannequin-like Mitt Romney is somehow more preferable as president than someone like Donald Trump. 

And poor Peggy Noonan must be really unhappy. The other day, she wrote one of her signature hand-wringing columns for the Wall Street Journal informing her readers that she did not see “how Republican senators could hear and fairly judge the accumulated evidence and vote to acquit the former president.” Those who would vote to acquit, she intoned, “are voting for a lie.” She wanted the “stiffest possible” penalties, including “banning Mr. Trump from future office.”

That touches on one of the two main reasons that the Democratic machine wheeled out their impeachment wheeze yet again. They are terrified of the voters—all those embryonic “domestic terrorists” Joe Biden’s Stasi is tracking—who, ignoring the wisdom of their betters, might actually get together and vote someone else like Donald Trump—if not the Bad Orange Man himself—into office again. That mustn’t happen. 

Convicting Trump was never in the cards, even given the wobbly, thumos-starved wonders who populate the GOP side of the Senate (not that the Democrats demonstrate an abundance of thumos, but their unremitting viciousness makes you forget that: viciousness can look like thumos from a distance). But hope springs eternal, and the hope here was that, even if official rustication was impossible, Trump might at least be sufficiently spattered and besmirched by all the mud slinging that he would be less of a political threat going forward. Maybe he will be. I wouldn’t care to speculate. 

But I am pretty sure that the second main reason for the impeachment charade was eminently well-founded. I mean the entirely rational fear that, absent Donald Trump as the focus of their attention and unbridled hatred, their ratings are going to suffer. What will they do without the man whom they have loved to hate? How much of their lives and energies these past four years were organized around loathing Donald Trump? What will they do now? I know that there are some who have discovered their inner Koko and are making little lists of “society offenders who might well be underground.” But for the time being, anyway, until they get the camps organized, their bigger problem is going to be an absolute crash in ratings. Who is Jim Acosta without Donald Trump? 

There is, as I have noted elsewhere, a lot that we do not know about the fracas at the Capitol on January 6. One of the reasons for our ignorance is the highly inaccurate accounts of the event. The Wikipedia entry, for example, is a tissue of inaccuracies and highly partisan claims. 

And the New York Times, true to form, has been a veritable fount of misinformation—an ironical contingency since the paper has recently called for a “reality czar” to combat “misinformation,” i.e., ideas with which they disagree. Take its account of what happened to Officer Brian Sicknick, who died on January 8, two days after the Capitol mélee. That same day, our former paper of record reported that Sicknick died after “[P]ro-Trump rioters attacked that citadel of democracy[!], overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher. . .” 

Click the link. You’ll see that an announcement that the column, though originally published January 8, had been updated February 12. Now that sentence is missing, though they don’t say so, and Sicknick died of—well something else. 

The Times wasn’t alone. The Washington Post, too, had him “pummeled by a rioter wielding a fire extinguisher.” Only he wasn’t. Medical examiners found no trace of blunt-force trauma. Indeed, he texted his family after the event to say that although he had been pepper-sprayed twice, he was in “good spirits” and in “good shape.” The current speculation is that he died of a stroke. 

But the Times, while cautiously walking back its original story is still not being candid. Indeed, Julie Kelly is right that in this case, as in so many others—the attack on the Covington Catholic High School student, for example, or the wild accusations about Brett Kavanaugh’s sex life—the Times has acted as a “superspreader” of lies.

The lies form a distorting web through which it is difficult to discern the reality of what actually happened. Yet there is one thing that we do know and can see clearly. The pandemonium at the Capitol was not the cause but merely the pretext for the unprecedented second impeachment by the U.S. Congress of a single individual.

The cause was the real threat to what anti-Trump partisans insist on calling “our democracy” (by “our” they mean “not yours.”) The real threat is the blind hatred of a man whose only real claim was on the allegiance of the voters, the still unhousebroken part of the population that entertains the quaint notion that they, not their credentialed masters in the media, on Wall Street, or the offices of political strategists, are the ones who are entrusted with picking the president. The 2020 election may well have cured them of that fond notion.

 

About Roger Kimball

Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee).

Photo: congress.gov via Getty Images

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