Tom Clyde: Watergate nostalgia
This is somewhat old news now, but deserves comment anyway. After further investigation, the Summit County Sheriff’s department determined that there was not a rock thrown through the window of Park City School District Superindentent Jill Gildea’s house.
This conclusion was based on the discovery that only the inside pane of glass was broken. The outside pane was intact. Also there was no rock. It was an inside job. The glass shattered spontaneously, probably due to temperature changes, or warping of the frame.
While it’s a relief to learn that we are not physically throwing rocks through public officials’ windows around here (though, figuratively, I hear the projectiles are flying on social media), I’m not sure that having windows spontaneously shatter is significantly better.
The driveway at the district-owned house is being replaced, and they have installed the tubing that would make it possible to heat the driveway, but to date, I’ve been told, there is no boiler and the driveway is not, for now, heated. I got that wrong last week.
With the “Case of The Rock That Wasn’t” closed, the nation is turning its attention to the Trump impeachment hearings. Things are just getting underway, and it’s too soon to know how it will play out. It seems like a lifetime ago (since it was) that I was in college watching the Watergate hearings. The student union building had a big area filled with TVs, and they were all turned to the Watergate hearing. It was the only thing on TV — all the networks were covering it live, and back in the day, there were only 4 or 5 channels available. Between classes and over lunch, we all sat on the floor and watched history march across the tiny screens. It was great drama.
We all knew Nixon was a crook. Impeachment was something new. It hadn’t happened since Andrew Johnson, just after the Civil War. The whole thing was different and felt like they were making it up as they went along. Witness after witness testified about the break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters, the cover-up, hush money, and finally the secret tape recording system.
One major turning point was the 18-minute gap in the tape, which Nixon’s secretary, Rosemary Woods, claimed she had inadvertently erased while holding a very difficult yoga pose, answering the phone while stepping on the foot control of the Dictaphone machine that was practically across the room. Then holding that pose for 18 minutes.
Nixon was a crook.
There were stars. Democrat Sam Ervin ran the committee. Republican Senator Howard Baker rose above partisanship and became a statesman. Between them, the process moved slowly but decisively, witness after witness, until finally, a group of Republican senators went to Nixon and said he wouldn’t survive the vote in the Senate. Nixon resigned rather than being thrown out of office.
The Clinton impeachment was over a tawdry affair of the type that, even then, would have had any corporate CEO fired. It would have been the decent thing for Clinton to resign. Ultimately, the Senate wouldn’t remove him.
There are a lot of reasons to want Trump out of office. Despite his claim that he is a very stable genius, his own top staff people have dismissed him as a moron. One of his most ardent supporters, Lindsey Graham, said Trump couldn’t be guilty of extorting the government of Ukraine because his policy is so incoherent that it would be impossible to put such a plot together. That’s some first class turd polishing.
From a long list of options, the Democrats have decided the impeachable offense is withholding Congressionally approved military aide to Ukraine, while they are involved in a shooting war with Russia over the theft of Crimea, unless Ukraine launched an investigation into Joe Biden’s son’s business, which would damage Biden’s electability in 2020. It wasn’t using the power of the White House to pursue a national policy goal. It was a small-fry mafia shakedown for purely personal reasons. Trump at his Trumpiest. And Biden will damage his own prospects, without help.
It’s impossible to know where it will go. These things have ways of squirting off in unpredictable directions. Trump’s supporters, and there are a lot of them, are unfazed by any of this. They got their tax cuts, and as long as he keeps appointing anti-abortion judges, it’s all good. It will take a lot to turn those supporters against him.
The House will vote to impeach, almost surely on party lines. It then moves to a trial in the Senate. Some Republican Senate leaders have already said they won’t bother looking at the evidence. That could change, but for now, it looks like Trump will survive a Senate vote to remove him from office. So the very stable genius remains in office, likely spending the remainder of his term seeking revenge on all who crossed him.
We live in interesting times.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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