The Reign of King Hyperbole

The House voting to impeach President Donald Trump

Long live King Hyperbole! He appeared this week on Twitter and the floor of the House of Representatives, dressed in his finest cloak. The Republican Party — once the party of Lincoln — is so bereft of ideology, thought, and moral compass that it — now more properly known as the party of Trump — can only pay homage to King Hyperbole. Democracy be damned! The Constitution, ignore it! Long live King Hyperbole!

No Republican defended President Donald Trump’s actions in shaking down a U.S. ally for the benefit of his reelection. No excuses were offered, because there are none. All that the Republicans who trooped to the well of the House to speak in the debate on the president’s impeachment could say was, well, not much more than exaggeration in the form of hyperbole.

Salem witch trials

To be sure, there were hours to fill in the debate Wednesday, and each member had only a minute or two to make a point — hence, the outsized metaphors. The president weighed in early in the contest to see who could cite the most inapt historical atrocity. A day before the vote to impeach, Trump compared his treatment — unfavorably, of course — to the Salem witch trials. “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” wrote Trump-the-historian in a tirade in the form of a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Historical aside: 19 alleged “witches” went to the gallows in Puritan Massachusetts in 1692, and one man was crushed to death by heavy stones — his punishment for refusing to enter a plea before the court. Another four convicted “witches” died in prison before their execution dates. No one is suggesting such a fate for the president, only his removal from office — and perhaps a later date in court.)

Georgia Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk

By the time the impeachment debate reached the floor of the House, the historical gaze of some went much further back in time than the late 17th century. For sheer absurdity, the prize must go to Representative Barry Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, who said — with a straight face — “When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process.” Loudermilk was not the only member to invoke the Crucifixion. Representative Fred Keller, a Republican from Pennsylvania, cited the Gospel of Luke, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I am not going too far out on a limb here in asserting that Jesus — suffering an excruciatingly painful death on the Cross — was far more forgiving than Trump. Supposedly pious Republicans using biblical imagery to defend the crotch-grabbing, election-cheating, lying, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic bully in the White House borders on blasphemy. No, it is blasphemous.

Representative Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican

Other absurd comparisons: Representative Mike Kelly, another Pennsylvania Republican, invoked Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s reference to Pearl Harbor: “This is a date that will live in infamy.” “Today, December 18, 2019, is another date that will live in infamy,” Kelly said. And, Representative Clay Higgins of Louisiana came up with vivid imagery while not indulging in amateurish history. “I have descended into the belly of the beast. I have witnessed the terror within,” he opined. Oh, my!

Republicans once knew — but, have apparently forgotten — how odious Donald Trump is. Lindsey Graham said the real estate developer was “unfit for office.” Now, Graham does not even want to hear the evidence in Trump’s Senate trial. Mick Mulvaney once called Trump “a terrible human being.” But, that was before Mulvaney became Trump’s acting chief of staff. Rick Perry, who has resigned as Energy Secretary, referred to Trump as a “barking carnival act” and labeled his candidacy as “a cancer on conservatism” before becoming one of the three amigos in the Ukraine caper. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called Trump a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral” before defending the man who slimed his wife and father.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The Democrats did their duty and impeached the president for abuse of power and obstructing Congress. The Senate, under the ever-compliant Mitch McConnell, will conduct a sham trial, and, if “Moscow Mitch” gets his way, the upper chamber will not call any witnesses. Apparently, McConnell fears what those witnesses might reveal. The majority leader’s position is hypocritical and untenable. House Republicans wasted a lot of breath claiming none of the witnesses called by Democrats in the House had first-hand knowledge of what Trump demanded from the Ukrainians. That claim was not true — there was testimony from witnesses who listened to the infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But, true or not, why not hear the testimony of other witnesses who have first-hand information about Ukrainian policy?

Trump’s acquittal is virtually a foregone conclusion, which only will embolden Trump to further abuse of his office. The day after acquittal, the president — if he waits that long — will be hatching another plan to cheat in the 2020 presidential election. It may involve a  different foreign country, or it may be some other nefarious plot. But, Trump will try to rig the election. Why? Because he cheats at everything, he cannot tolerate losing, and, while he does not read much, he can read the polls. Actually, judging by the travels of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s current personal lawyer, the cheating continued during impeachment and probably will continue during and after the trial.

Trump will cheat — and he will get caught because he is incompetent and because he relies on cronies like Giuliani. What will the Republicans say then? Still look the other way? Probably. Invoke more hyperbole? Hard to top the Jesus imagery, but do not discount their abilities. King Hyperbole will be back.

Posted December 20, 2019

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