Finneran's Wake - Ep. #7
ITEM # 1 – DONALD TRUMP ACQUITTED IN THE SENATE
On Saturday, the verdict of former president Donald J. Trump’s second impeachment trial was delivered.
After a mere four days of oral arguments and televisual recordings, a hasty half-week into which every type of grandiloquent denunciation and vehement defense was tightly compressed, the House Managers failed to convince a requisite two-thirds of the Senate of what they deemed to be Mr. Trump’s irrefragable guilt.
Shall we remind ourselves, if only briefly, of the crime of which the former real estate magnate and Republican president was accused? This most essential component of the story feels as though it were an indistinct grain of sand buried in the vastness of a desert still boiling hot. If it dallies in presenting itself to your busy memory, a finite space into which, day after day, so much news and outrage is densely packed, you can be forgiven. Expiation need not be sought, for this is a shortcoming to which even the brightest of minds and least distracted of observers will inevitably succumb.
Mercifully, the crime of which Mr. Trump was alleged was but one, yet, despite its unusually singular existence, it carried with it considerable weight. The sole offense with which the former president was charged, on which, at least for a fleeting moment, the undisclosed direction of his political future and personal ambition seemed to hinge, was “incitement to insurrection”.
None was under the illusion that this would be an easy article to prove and, had sharper minds applied the trenchant acuity of their wit, and had cooler passions guided the celebrated accuracy of their pointed legal spears, they might’ve helped their own cause by choosing an alternative. They might’ve accused the former president of any number of unpardonable indiscretions or gross misdeeds, like his solicitation of fellow Republicans Mike Pence, Brad Raffensperger, and Brian Kemp to criminal activity, or his attempt to excite odium against a government—our government—from which, at the urging of the people’s suffrage, he was soon to take his leave.
Suffering from no deficiency in men and women deeply read in the law, the House must’ve considered these as potential, supplementary articles with which to impeach Mr. Trump. Even if its members were unwilling to abandon the “incitement” charge to which their great endeavor seemed unwaveringly to be fixed, there’s no reason why the other two couldn’t have gained admission on to their short and, as we’ve come to know it, unpropitious list.
Thoughtful and, for the most part, articulate arguments were forwarded by both sides. The House Managers, led by Maryland’s Jamie Raskin, sought to establish the direct and mobilizing influence that Mr. Trump exercised over the rioters. Untainted by the knowledge that these ruffians were converging on the Capitol Building prior to the end of the president’s hour-long speech, and that, as averred, he was the force by which their barbarity was animated, it was only at a great and unbridgeable distance, one might be persuaded by their claim.
That important fact, however, wasn’t overlooked by the former president’s defense. It made a point, as expected, to remind that august body sitting in judgment that Mr. Trump, far from inciting violence, exhorted his many followers “to peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard. This line alone, uttered toward the end of his speech, might be enough to exculpate even the meanest rogue motivated by the foulest temperament. The only crime, it appears, of which Mr. Trump might genuinely be accused, is having injured our language by splitting a helpless infinitive.
Such a crime, though, enjoys no applicability here. It’s better deferred to a grammatical court, the type of literary tribunal over which, with dulcet eloquence and Rhadamanthine steel, a king of words, such as the infallible Dr. Samuel Johnson, might preside.
Another shortcoming of the House Managers’ case, on which Mr. Trump’s defense team was not only ready, but eager to pounce, was their heavy reliance on secondary sources. They made continual reference to unnamed parties and anonymous “know-it-alls” to whom Mr. Trump was assumed, in some meaningful and legally relevant way, to be close. By and large, they collected these sources from unverified media reports, the kind of chatter by which the appetites of curious readers are excited, but the bland palates of juries are unmoved.
Sensing that their case was becoming unsustainably feeble—particularly in the absence of any human witnesses—the Democrats suggested that these very people be called. Their Republican colleagues somewhat surprisingly agreed. The upshot was that, necessarily, the trial would be extended for an indefinite period of time, perhaps until the later months of the spring. At least for the moment, none thought this an inconvenience with which they couldn’t deal, and all prepared themselves for the lengthened timeline.
No sooner had they resolved to call witnesses than, in the blink of an eye, their opinion changed. With a display of caprice, frankly, unbecoming of so resolute and decisive a body, the idea was discarded just as quickly as it was entertained. Witnesses, they declared, would no longer be welcome.
All that remained was a collection of the vote. A majority voted in favor of convicting Mr. Trump of having “incited an insurrection”, but, as our Constitution tells us, a simple majority would not suffice. Seven Republicans joined fifty Democrats, when seventeen, all told, were needed.
Thus, a second chapter of the Trump presidency closed in a familiar manner: he was acquitted by the Senate.
ITEM #2 – CUOMO’S CULPABILITY: AN INCONTROVERTIBLE FACT
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, son of a venerated name and paragon of gubernatorial decorum, is reaching toward ever-lower depths of moral culpability and professional malfeasance. The stratum of the earth into which he’s endeavored to plunge is quite beyond the detection of modern science. Advanced in so many other ways (we’ve just this week landed a rover, after a half-year’s journey, on the noxious surface of Mars) it’s not yet so sensitive as to expose the dark habitation of so deliberately obscure, fatally incompetent, unabashedly mean, and foully subterranean a man.
Governor Cuomo’s descent, it seems, can only be gauged by the blunt reading of a political yardstick. By that instrument alone can his unfavorability be measured and his guilt properly assessed. One need only dig through the odium beneath which he’s now buried (of which, for well-neigh a year, his army of defenders in the media tried to cleanse him) to gaze upon such an unbecoming person, and such a soiled reputation.
The history of his failures, though long concealed, has become widely-known. At the very outset of the pandemic, when everyone was ignorant of the virulence by which this Asiatic disease was attended, Cuomo offered no discouragement to large gatherings, socially “un”-distanced groups between whom so energetic a bug might quickly spread. He and Bill DeBlasio, mayor of New York City, failed to sanitize the subway cars and to streamline the efficiency and safety of this most essential means of urban transportation.
Then, on the twenty-fifth of March, a day that haunts the memory even more than that same month’s ancient ides, he issued his infamous decree: irrespective of their condition, all residents discharged from a hospital must be welcomed back into nursing facilities from which they came, or to which, for further rehabilitation and treatment, they’d been referred. Impervious to the protests of the medical directors of said facilities, to whom the danger of this edict was immediately apparent, Cuomo declared that his mandate was to brook no evasion. It was, rather, a fiat with which all would be made to comply.
It lasted until the tenth of May, at which point it was quietly abandoned. Republican legislators, and even a few inquisitive centrists, were startled by so abrupt a change in policy, a drastic shift about which the administration had grown uncharacteristically silent. They proceeded to ask Cuomo and his staff for the numbers of nursing home deaths for which their misguided policy might be responsible.
At every turn, they were rebuffed. The legacy media, echoing the plaudits and adding to the encomia of the man imagined to be the anti-Trump, were incurious, to say the least. When Cuomo’s administration did finally deign to the requests for the release its undisclosed numbers, they were grossly misleading. This was the finding made by the state’s Attorney General, Letitia James, a tough, Democrat public official by whose unflattering estimate, the administration undercounted nursing home deaths by more than fifty percent.
As it turns out, James wasn’t the only Democrat exasperated by the governor’s callous behavior. State legislators—aroused, all of a sudden, if not by their conscience, then by their angry constituents—joined their opponents on the right in asking questions of the administration. Satisfactory answers were refused them, as they were all others.
In a recently-leaked zoom call, to which a group of Albany Democrats was exclusively privy, a top Cuomo aide by the name of Melissa DeRosa admitted that her boss intentionally concealed the nursing home death statistics. She explained, to the nodding understanding of all, that federal investigators were hot on their trail and that, should the truth be revealed, President Trump would proceed to claim that, “We killed everyone in nursing homes”—a narrative by which her Emmy-award-winning boss’ immaculate reputation might be unfairly sullied.
Never has so candid an admission to a crime been made, and never so studiously ignored.
Through the course of these revelations, Cuomo remained intransigent. He cast not only blame, but hurtful aspersions on everyone aside from himself. He blamed the humble workers by whom the nursing facilities were staffed, the medical directors to whom so many devout employees answered, the federal government from which, in his words, he unquestioningly received direction, and, of course, President Trump, the man by whom his every need was filled (remember the ventilators, the USNS Comfort, the Javits Center), yet for whom he harbored nothing but enmity.
To top it all off, it’s now been revealed that, when unencumbered by his literary pursuits, his television appearances, his Emmy acceptances, his bald-faced mendacity, and his obfuscation of data, he fills his time making personal calls of intimidation to fellow elected officials. He did so just the other night to Ron Kim, a state assemblyman upon whom he unleashed his fury.
ITEM # 3 – LINCOLN PROJECT IMPLODES
The widely-applauded and richly-endowed Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump movement into which nearly one hundred million dollars were eagerly sunk, has, for all intents and purposes, imploded.
Seldom does an organization, named after so unblemished a person, live up to the shining example and faultless character of the man to whom its title is owed. Never has this been truer than in the case of the Lincoln Project, an organization so deeply corrupt, so openly avaricious, and so profoundly unscrupulous, that the memory of the sixteenth, and perhaps greatest President of the United States is made, in some small way, to suffer.
The early conception of the Lincoln Project was admirable enough. Ostensibly, it sought to demarcate a line between conservatives of conscience (among whom, with no shortage of moral preening, its founders thought it fitting to number themselves), and those on the Right besotted by the dizzying aroma of a demagogue called Trump.
Their initial critique of the forty-fifth president was, on the whole, fair. The administrative failures and personality flaws upon which he couldn’t improve were ripe for their picking. The problem was that these insatiable political vultures overfilled their gullets. They over-exaggerated Trump’s missteps, enlarged his shortcomings, dramatized a future with him at the helm, and derided the millions of people with whom he’d established so intimate a bond.
They presented themselves as the morally-superior, self-righteous, honest alternative to the irremediably depraved and deceitful Trump. They existed, at least in their own minds, as the party by whom conservative principles would be not just saved, but restored. They were intervening with the goal of re-discovering the ethical path from which, under the confused guidance of a swerving Trump, they’d so blindly strayed. They thought themselves injured by this president’s tenure, and hoped to deliver a remedy to those who felt themselves likewise abused.
The trouble is, much as we were encouraged to admire their spotless virtue, and, having done so, contribute to their cause, they were more sinning than sinned against.
The Lincoln Project’s co-founder, John Weaver, was known to have indulged his pederast’s fancy. Occasionally, this unwholesome perversion would yield to outright pedophilia. Scores of lascivious texts under his authorship were released to the public, obscene messages at which both prude and profligate couldn’t help but cringe. Their language would be injurious to even the most refractory of ears, those hardened organs through which comparable filth seldom flows.
The nature of his sexual exploits was, to use that most detestable term, an “open secret” among the political and media class—a fact known by all, but censured by none. When, finally, his behavior did come to stimulate the public’s contempt, it was deliberately after the presidential election—when the Lincoln Project’s goal was achieved.
Other founding members, having no taste for Weaver’s pederasty, satisfied their cupidity instead. Men like Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson became fabulously wealthy by courting Democrats and robbing Republicans. With their newfound wealth, they were able to purchase million-dollar homes, million-dollar yachts, and invaluable prestige.
At least one of these things, the last, has vanished before their eyes.