GOP’s case to re­place party’s mas­cot with lem­ming

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGOLAN­D - Rex W. Hup­pke rhup­[email protected]­bune. com

Public im­peach­ment hear­ings be­gan last week in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and we learned Repub­li­cans should change their sym­bol from an ele­phant to a cliff-bound lem­ming. It left me root­ing for truth and ask­ing my weekly ques­tion: “What the (BLEEP) just hap­pened?”

Here’s the GOP’s dull­wit­ted im­peach­ment de­fense, in a nut­shell: You might like Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. And you might be­lieve his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy — in which the pres­i­dent ap­pears to lever­age con­gres­sion­ally ap­proved mil­i­tary aid to get Ze­len­skiy to dig up dirt on a po­lit­i­cal ri­val, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den — was ill-ad­vised but not grounds for im­peach­ment.

But you can’t em­brace the Trump-did-noth­ing­wrong de­fenses Repub­li­cans trot­ted out dur­ing the first public im­peach­ment hear­ings and also claim you’re teth­ered to re­al­ity.

For starters, the wit­nesses who tes­ti­fied — Bill Tay­lor, act­ing U.S. am­bas­sador to Ukraine, and Ge­orge Kent, deputy assistant sec­re­tary at the U.S. State Depart­ment, on Wed­nes­day and for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to Ukraine Marie Yo­vanovitch sched­uled for Fri­day — are the type of peo­ple Repub­li­cans, prior to drink­ing Trump’s Kool-Aid and get­ting all kooky-eyed, would have called “hon­or­able pa­tri­ots.”

Heck, Tay­lor, a Viet­nam War vet­eran, even crit­i­cized for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Ukraine pol­icy dur­ing his tes­ti­mony, and both he and Kent were named to their cur­rent posts BY TRUMP OF­FI­CIALS.

But Repub­li­cans dis­missed th­ese wit­nesses as “Never Trumpers” and treated them like they were ru­mor-mon­ger­ing school kids.

House Repub­li­cans in the hear­ing also tried re­lent­lessly to claim Trump couldn’t have done any­thing wrong be­cause mil­i­tary aid to the Ukraine wound up go­ing through and Ukrainian of­fi­cials never launched a Bi­den investigat­ion. That over­looks the fact the aid was re­leased only after a whistle­blower re­port was filed.

Speak­ing of the whistle­blower, Repub­li­cans con­tin­ued their quixotic quest to round up that anony­mous and pro­tected-un­der­fed­eral-law per­son. They griped about the lack of a whistle­blower to de­mo­nize while sit­ting in front of two ac­tual wit­nesses (Kent and Tay­lor) who were blow­ing the whistle on vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing the whistle­blower had claimed. If an anony­mous tip­ster tells you your dog ate your ham­burger and then your dog tells you he ate your ham­burger, the iden­tity of the tip­ster be­comes quite ir­rel­e­vant. (Though you might still won­der when your dog started talk­ing.)

Lastly, they com­plained wit­nesses were not giv­ing a “first­hand ac­count” of al­leged mis­deeds. Yet those same Repub­li­cans sup­port Trump’s re­fusal to al­low peo­ple who do have first­hand knowl­edge — like chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil le­gal ad­viser John Eisen­berg — to com­ply with House sub­poe­nas.

It’s al­most as if, and you’ll par­don this gi­ant leap of logic, Repub­li­cans don’t re­ally have a de­fense of the pres­i­dent’s ac­tions.

An­other day, an­other school shoot­ing — I guess this just hap­pens now: With breath­like reg­u­lar­ity, chil­dren are shot to death in Amer­i­can schools.

It has hap­pened so many times now that a Thurs­day mass shoot­ing at a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia high school, which left two stu­dents dead and sev­eral oth­ers in­jured, was met both with sor­row and a broad sense of hope­less­ness.

As stu­dents were led out of the Santa Clarita high school by ri­fle-tot­ing deputies, a Los An­ge­les Times reporter heard a stu­dent ask, “What kind of world is this?”

That a child should ask that ques­tion is a con­dem­na­tion of us all.

Law­suit against ri­fle­maker can move for­ward: A bit of good news, per­haps, on the gun front came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tues­day that rel­a­tives of vic­tims of the Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School shoot­ing can pur­sue a law­suit against Rem­ing­ton Arms, the maker of the ri­fle that was used to mur­der 20 first graders and six teach­ers.

The Con­necti­cut case could act as a road map for other vic­tims of mass shoot­ings to get around a fed­eral law that pro­tects firearms mak­ers from be­ing sued when their prod­ucts are used in crimes.

I say: Go get ’em.

The Bears should kneel before Colin Kaeper­nick: The Chicago Bears quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion is, in two words, not good. Mitch Tru­bisky has re­gressed this sea­son and backup Chase Daniel is not likely to en­er­gize the team.

But the Bears or­ga­ni­za­tion has a chance to make the team bet­ter and make a state­ment. Ex­iled quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick will be giv­ing a free-agent work­out Satur­day, and teams from across the league are ex­pected to at­tend.

Kaeper­nick was tossed aside by the Na­tional Foot­ball League be­cause he dared to protest so­cial and racial in­jus­tice by kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them.

The in­jus­tice of that re­ac­tion has be­come clearer since his de­par­ture, as teams have scooped up myr­iad sub­par quar­ter­backs rather than tak­ing a chance on a light­ning rod like Kaeper­nick.

The Bears could use a light­ning rod right now. Just as they could use a good quar­ter­back.

Stephen Miller is a spooky racist ghoul: Speak­ing of racism, Trump im­mi­gra­tion ad­viser Stephen Miller, who we’ve all known for ages is a ra­bid white na­tion­al­ist, was re­vealed to be a ra­bid white na­tion­al­ist last week when the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter re­leased a trove of Miller’s past emails.

They re­veal a man ob­sessed with anti-im­mi­grant views who re­lies on racist lit­er­a­ture like the novel “Camp of the Saints” to back up his de­sire for a whiter Amer­ica.

This is the man re­spon­si­ble for much of Amer­ica’s cur­rent im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. If you aren’t both­ered by this, you’re likely a fel­low trav­eler of Miller’s.

There’s no new wall, suck­ers! Fi­nally, any­one who be­lieves Trump’s much-bal­ly­hooed bor­der wall is ac­tu­ally be­ing built is buy­ing ex­actly what the con­man-in-chief is sell­ing.

Act­ing Cus­toms and Bor­der Protection Com­mis­sioner Mark Mor­gan­told re­porters Thurs­day the only new wall con­struc­tion has come in places that al­ready had fenc­ing or bar­ri­ers. The to­tal amount of re­place­ment wall cov­ers 78 miles. The to­tal amount of new wall is zero miles.

And for the record, Mex­ico hasn’t paid for any­thing.

DREW ANGERER/GETTY

Ge­orge Kent, left, and Bill Tay­lor are sworn in to tes­tify before the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day.

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