Friday, August 19, 2022


Really? We're doing this again?

In The Washington Post, Jason Willick writes:
It’s ... possible [Donald Trump] will be indicted on charges related to the 2020 election, the handling of government documents, or both; that he will mount a third presidential campaign, and that America’s 2024 election will be clouded by the incumbent administration’s novel prosecution of a rival candidate of a major party.

There’s an endgame that would avert that destabilizing prospect: If Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Justice Department indicts Trump, President Biden could intervene with the exercise of his pardon power.

Hear me out. I’m not naive enough to think modern politicians are in the habit of sacrificing their own political interests to reduce polarization or strengthen “norms.” But it isn’t clear that pardoning Trump would hurt Biden politically. On the contrary, making such a startling move could put the weary president back in the center of the political universe, scramble political alignments and make his former rival — if he accepts the humbling offer — appear small and weak.
You see, being pardoned could actually be bad for Trump:
One of Trump’s most potent appeals to Republican primary voters is the claim that Democrats want to suppress and criminalize their opposition, and that this requires an extraordinary electoral response from the GOP. A pardon would partially preempt this claim, while a grinding prosecution would produce unending news cycles that Trump could use to dominate a primary.
And it would be awesome for the Justice Department to have its case preemepted!
No matter what Garland decides, close to half of the country might have its faith in the Justice Department shaken by the Trump probe — either because it ends in prosecution or because it does not. A Biden reprieve of Trump (once Garland’s investigation is finished) would pull the Justice Department out of this political vise, helping to sustain its reputation. Progressive dismay would be redirected from the Justice Department as an institution and toward the political process.
Yes -- we'd now be able to express our "progressive dismay" at the ballot box by choosing between a guy who got away with multiple felonies and a guy who let him get him away with multiple felonies. Just as the Framers intended!

I assume we're going to be subjected to quite a few op-eds like this as the cases against Trump heat up. And I imagine that at least a few of the readers nodding in agreement will be people who have been praising Liz Cheney for her bravery all week.

My resentment of the Cult of Cheney stems from the fact that Democrats have been right about Donald Trump's corruption, bigotry, criminality, and overall unfitness to serve from the beginning, and yet Liz Cheney is seen as the true hero of anti-Trumpism, primarily because she crossed the aisle to fight him. Let's give her a hand for that, certainly -- but can we please stop thinking that defiance of one's own party is the greatest of all political virtues? Now it's Joe Biden who'd supposed to do it, even though the outcome will inevitably be the exact opposite of what Cheney wants: Trump will evade justice and will be empowered to run again without fear of facing at least federal charges.

If Cheney seems heroic to you and the idea of a Trump pardon by President Biden also seems like a statesmanlike act, then you're not a patriot -- you're a bipartisanship fetishist, and you're not helping.

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