MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2021
Tomorrow, the trial to nowhere: Does it make sense to be holding an impeachment "trial" for our former commander in chief, Donald J. Trump? Is it a good idea?
We're basically "meh" on this trial. For starters, Trump isn't going to be convicted, and he isn't going to be disqualified from seeking future office.
Instead, he's going to be "acquitted." Surely, everyone knows that.
(The fact that Dems are talking about disqualifying Trump from seeking future office—by a simple majority vote!—helps explain why he'll never be convicted. As with all other serious points, this point is going completely undiscussed. Our culture is very much like this!)
The desire to held this "trial" stems from the desire to punish. The desire to punish remains a very strong impulse in the streets of Our Town.
We're much less committed to the desire to persuade. Consider the question of Marjorie Taylor Greene's love for the former commander.
Who is Marjorie Taylor Greene? What follows would be our best guess:
We'd describe her as someone who joins extremely poor powers of discernment to a will to power, an impulse for combat and a very poor sense of appropriate boundaries.
Is she also the virulent anti-Semite of Dana Milbank's description? As always, everything is possible, but we wouldn't assume that she is.
Over the course of the past few years, Greene has seemed to agree with every damn-fool claim that has come down the pike. Rather than "pity the fool," we've been deeply invested in trying to punish her too. In a sardonic aside in her latest column, Jennifer Senior offers a possible explanation:
SENIOR (2/7/21): Perhaps the media bear a tiny bit of responsibility for the coverage Greene is getting. We’re going through terrible outrage withdrawal. (“Have you seen CNN’s ratings recently?” Dan Senor, once an adviser to Mitt Romney, asked me not long ago.) So here is Greene, offering us a bottomless Mary-Poppins-carpet-bag of old videos that spew hate and derangement. She’s our methadone.
Then again, she truly is monstrous.
"We’re going through terrible outrage withdrawal?" Senior seems to be suggesting that the media is replacing its outrage against the departed and silenced Trump with the methadone of outrage aimed at Rep. Greene.
"Then again, she truly is monstrous," Senior says. We wouldn't use that word ourselves. Ruth to tell, we'd suggest a largely different approach.
As with Trump, so too with Greene! The press corps and the rest of Our Town is failing to ask a pair of obvious questions:
Have Trump and Greene really believe the various gonzo things they've said? If so, what does that start to tell us about the political / societal / cultural situation with which we're now confronted?
Last week, we discussed Greene's various ludicrous claims, but we also cited two former QAnon believers who were interviewed by CNN. People do believe these crazy claims, and we need to be asking ourselves how to address this state of affairs.
Instead of trying to punish people, we ought to be trying to decide how to address the problem of runaway lack of discernment, not excluding our own. In this, the age of partisan crackpot "news" and utterly crackpot social media, this problem won't be going away on its own.
The problem isn't Greene's various claims, whether or not she believed the,. The problem is the fact that so many other people plainly did.
The problem isn't the fact that Greene ran for Congress spouting her crazy ideas. The problem is the fact that last November, Greene's House election turned out exactly like this:
Georgia's 14th congressional district, November 2020
Marjorie Taylor Greene (R): 229,827
Kevin Van Ausda (D): 77,798
Can we punish our way out of that? We're not sure we can.
Is Donald Trump severely disordered, as major psychiatrists have said? In Our Town, our journalists (Senior excluded) decided they didn't want to hold that discussion! In Our Town, we decided that it would make better sense to punish him instead.
What explains the crazy claims of someone like Rep. Greene? Did she really believe the various crazy things she has said? More to the point, how can we address a world in which so many others do?
Here in Our Town, we don't care about questions like that. We want to conduct our showcase trials, no matter how dumb they may be.
Can we punish our way out of this mess? Tomorrow, we start to find out as the "trial to nowhere" gets its start.
We dream of disqualifying Trump from ever running again. After making him a martyr, we'll start looking for ways to punish the "next nut up!"