Contrary to conventional wisdom

Published 6:41 pm Thursday, December 19, 2019

“Call me irresponsible, call me unreliable.

Call me undependable, too…” — Sammy Cahn

No doubt to the consternation of some critics, this column is going to be counter to the unlikely narrative that some of  them insist upon propagating: That the small town editor of a small weekly paper in Backwater, USA, is in reality some Ivy League liberal sympathizing radical lefty who loves all things Democratic and hates all things Republican, with a special degree of animus reserved for President Donald Trump.

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People, I have lived long enough to learn, have short memories and people have selective perception and far too many people have taken Paul Simon’s wonderfully prescient lyric to heart and hear what they want to hear while disregarding the rest.

As example, folks seem to have forgotten that I opposed impeachment of this president.

As far back as last summer, I editorialized in my little newspaper way out here in the Hinterlands that what was all too predictably being contemplated in the alternate universe that is Washington, D.C., was a mistake for reasons which should now be painfully obvious.

I knew then what I know now, that whether right or wrong, justified or not, ideal or nowhere near such, the spectacle of impeaching Trump with no realistic possibility of convicting him on any article would do nothing but deepen (if not widen) the divisions among our countrymen and  galvanize the ever-increasing tribalism that is making mockery of the Founders’ vision of the American republic.

Besides, I’ve actually read the Federalist Papers, am more than passingly familiar with the Constitution and hence, am both informed and old-fashioned enough to believe that if you are going to impeach a fellow, it should be for the worst things he’s done, and not just for something that polls better in focus groups or that you think might be easier to prove — particularly in a situation where absolutely no amount of proof whatsoever is going to make the first whit of difference.

Donald Trump is the third American president in the 242-year history of the country to be impeached and next month will become the third to not be convicted and removed from office for those offenses and I cannot help but find the whole business to be almost painfully Shakespearean: The evil that Trump does will live after him and the exercises in political futility we are watching seems increasingly like the tale told by the idiot full of sound and fury and signifying precious little.

What Trump did on a stage in Helsinki with the president of Russia was far more abhorrent than what he did on a telephone with the president of Ukraine. If we were going to impeach him, it should have been for conduct unbecoming a commander-in-chief. That said, the Democrats having done what they have over the subject of Trump and Ukraine compounded their mistake by not calling what Trump did by its rightful name—blackmail.

So there, folks, take that little tidbit and ponder it in your hearts. Tis the season, after all.

Like any good reporter, my notebook is full, so as not only the year but the decade winds to a close, now’s as good a time as any to clean it out and start over:

• It seems to me that both the Democratic and Republican parties are in considerable danger of falling victim to their respective looney lefts and radical rights. The rank and file of the electorate are far closer to the sensible center than is either the consultant or commentariat classes think and would have the rest of us believe. Note to the self-proclaimed experts on both sides of the aisle: The purpose of political parties is to win elections, not attain ideological purity.

• So what does the above mean in practical terms? The Republicans should do what they absolutely will not — tell Trump to rein in his excesses, tone down his rhetoric and quit alienating every woman in the country. For the Democrats it is simpler: nominate somebody like Biden or Klobuchar and win the election; nominate somebody like Sanders or Warren and lose it.

• Here’s a hunch that I will hereby turn into a prediction: By this time next year, a considerable number of Mississippians who voted for Tate Reeves for governor will have come to wish they had not.

• In what is not only terribly sad, but threatening to the very concept of governance itself, bipartisanship has gone from admirable to punishable.

• And finally, let me end with the rhetorical, the disturbingly rhetorical — What happens the next time Trump actually does something worse and the Congress has already fired the best arrow in its quiver?

Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.