Saturday, January 13, 2018
Have you no sense of decency?" It's the question that the members of the Republican majority in the Congress -- 51 senators, 239 representatives -- might bear in mind, in the "shithole" era. If only two of those senators would stand up against Donald Trump, with their votes rather than just their tweets or concerned statements, they would constitute an effective majority. With the 49 Democratic and independent senators, these two would make 51 votes, which in turn would be enough to authorize real investigations. They could pass a formal resolution of censure. They could call for tax returns and financial disclosure. They could begin hearings, on the model of the nationally televised Watergate hearings of 45 years ago. They could behave as if they took seriously their duties to hold the executive branch accountable.
They could take a step they know will be to their credit when this era enters history -- as did the Republicans who finally turned against their party's own President Nixon during the Watergate drama, as did the Democrats who finally turned against their own party's President Johnson over the Vietnam war, as did the Republicans who finally turned against their own poisonous Senator McCarthy in the episode that gave rise to "Have you no sense of decency?" more than 60 years ago.
If any...two...Republicans, decided to take a stand, they would not change everything about this perilous moment in politics. But they would something, about the open secret of a destructive presidency that nearly all of their colleagues are aware of and virtually none is doing anything about.
They could remind their colleagues of the Senate's appropriate check-and-balance function.
And they could spare themselves, in history's perspective, the question Joseph Welch so memorably asked the rampaging Senator Joe McCarthy, during the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954.
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