The old saying “Revenge is a dish best served cold” is understood to mean it is better to deliver retribution for a perceived or actual injustice after time has passed, in order for it to be done dispassionately. Sometimes it is better not to serve that dish at all. Like perishable food left unrefrigerated, a different kind of “bacteria” can infect the nation.
Dispassion is in retreat in Washington and instead of revenge being served cold, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other Democrats are turning up the heat.
The House voted 232-197 Wednesday to impeach President Trump, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats to make Trump the first president impeached twice — just one week before his term ends.
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Some conservatives I hear from believe Democrats impeached Trump because they want to deny him the right to ever hold public office again, fearing his policy successes and the 74 million Americans who voted for him. These Democrats are after more than revenge. They are engaging in vindictiveness.
President-elect Joe Biden has called for healing and unity, but he, too, has contributed to turning up the heat with some of his anti-Trump and anti-Republican comments. This proves a point I have previously made. The antithesis of the proverb “a soft answer turns away wrath” is that a hard answer increases wrath. It can be argued that all of Trump’s personal insults of others have now circled back to attack him.
Trump’s impeachment will only further divide the country, deepen conspiracy theories, possibly lead to more violence and hinder the confirmation of Biden’s nominees for critical offices. It could also embolden our enemies.
With Trump leaving office Wednesday, there is no time for a Senate trial while he is still president. It is problematic whether a trial can or should be held after Trump is no longer in the White House. But Democrats — and some Republicans — would like to “dance on his grave” and see him harmed even after he departs.
The model for dealing with a president many feel has disgraced himself and the office of the presidency is what President Gerald Ford did for former President Richard Nixon following Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate affair.
On Sept. 8, 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon. He said among his reasons that a Senate trial would take up to a year and “in the meantime the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks” — meaning Nixon’s resignation — “could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former president of the United States.”
Ford continued in his pardon announcement: “The prospects of such a trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest office of the United States.”
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True, President Trump’s situation is different. He hasn’t resigned or suffered from his actions, real and alleged. But the principle is the same.
This vindictiveness has spread to members of the White House staff and even to Trump supporters in Congress. There have been calls, including from Forbes magazine, for such people to be denied future employment as punishment for their association with Trump. Forbes editor Randall Lane warns companies that might hire Trump press staffers that they and journalists should assume everything the former Trump staffers say is a lie.
This is reminiscent of the Hollywood blacklist, the “Red Scare” and the Sen. Joe McCarthy era. Where are the principled people who courageously stood up against those smears? If they don’t stand up again now, they risk possible future harm to themselves and to the country.
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Corporations, like Deutsche Bank, have announced they will no longer do business with Trump. For them he has the equivalent of a scarlet letter stamped indelibly on his chest.
The best policy to follow is to allow Trump to leave office and let the justice system work. If crimes have been committed, let them be dealt with in the courts, but it is better to build a better future than to dwell on a bitter past. Vindictiveness will only turn Trump into a martyr in the minds of his supporters. That, too, will not be good for the country.
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