Impeachment: analogy style

Good stuff here from Nicholas Kristoff:

As the impeachment process unfolds, President Trump’s defenders will throw up dust clouds of complexity. But as the first day of open hearings suggested, it’s simple. Forget about Ukraine and diplomacy for a moment.

Suppose that a low-ranking government official, the head of a branch Social Security office, intervened to halt a widow’s long-approved Social Security payments. The widow, alarmed that without that income she might lose her home, would call the branch director to ask for help.

“I’d like you to do me a favor, though,” the director might respond. He would suggest that her Social Security payments could resume, but he’d like the widow to give him her late husband’s collection of rare coins.

Everybody would see that as an outrageous abuse of power. Whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, we would all recognize that it’s inappropriate for a federal official to use his or her power over government resources to extract personal benefits. The Social Security official could say that the payments eventually resumed, or assert that the widow’s son had engaged in skulduggery — but he’d be out of a job in an instant and would face a criminal investigation.

Likewise, imagine that a high school principal expelled the police chief’s son but offered to readmit the boy if the police department would just open a criminal investigation into his ex-wife before their child custody hearing.

Or suppose that the head of a public hospital offered to provide free medical care to employees of a construction company if it remodeled his kitchen?

Or what if I suggested to a university president that I was planning some glowing columns about his great institution and then asked for “a favor,” noting that my child was applying for admission.

In every case, we might disagree about whether to call this bribery, extortion or a quid pro quo, and might disagree about precisely which statute was violated, but there is no doubt this would be a firing offense and perhaps lead to a criminal investigation.

Shouldn’t we hold the president of the United States to as high a standard as the head of a Social Security office, a principal, a hospital director and a journalist? …

That may no longer be true. Brace yourself in the coming weeks for smoke screens of obfuscation, but anchor yourself to this thought: What if the wrongdoing simply involved the head of a Social Security office, a principal, a hospital director or a journalist? Why allow a president to get away with what would be a firing offense for anyone else?

Yeah, that.  And in this case, doing so– and honestly that’s exactly what the Republicans are doing– fundamentally undermines our democracy.  But, hey, it’s fun and a powertrip to be an elected Republican.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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