an autodidact meets a dilettante…

‘Rise above yourself and grasp the world’ Archimedes – attribution

USA – suffering for its own failure

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Marie Yovanovitch – under threat

The commentariat is divided, though perhaps not entirely on partisan lines, on the treatment of the American President.

It’s becoming clear that, in the USA and elsewhere, people are inhabiting their own social media bubbles. There’s no doubt this is a massive change. Twenty years ago, the term ‘social media’ didn’t exist. Today, when you walk down the street, or catch public transport, you will see people clutching their social media connection machine in their hands as if their life depended on it, and much of the time they’re fully engaged with it. I’m not sure that this social media world can be divided clearly on left/right political lines, but it’s fairly clearly affecting the political understanding of vast numbers of people.

The commentariat, however, more or less represent the intelligentsia, and we expect them to be less in thrall to social media. Yet the division is striking, even if, it seems, uneven. I may be biased, I’m not sure, but it seems to me that those disparaging and mocking, or claiming to be bored by the career diplomats testifying to their frustration and alarm regarding the covert operation to extort the Ukraine government, are in a minority, though a loud one. At the same time, the US President was smearing, via Twitter, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, as she was about to testify. As all the evidence shows, Yovanovitch was removed from her post by Trump, and threatened by him in a phone call to the Ukrainian President, saying ‘she’s going to go through some things’. The President described this phone call as ‘perfect’.

All of this is well known, as is the reason for Yovanovitch’s removal. She was a hindrance to the extortion plot. 

So why isn’t the President in prison, as should and would occur in every reasonably regulated democratic country? The case is easy to prove, it is admitted by the culprit, and involves a number of first-hand witnesses. This morning I heard a member of the commentariat lay this all out in some detail, then lament that it’s ‘very unfortunate and appalling’, and so forth. And of course many others agreed. Their helplessness is sad, indeed tormenting, to behold.

The President should be held without bail, because of his known compulsion for witness tampering and intimidation, until the date of his trial, but of course this isn’t happening, not because the President is immune from prosecution while in office, but because – despite the massive opportunity for any holder of presidential office to pervert the course of justice – there is no clear law regarding how to treat a criminal President. That this is so, is damning. Waiting for that President to leave office is not a solution, as should be abundantly clear, even to a ten-year-old. 

What continually astonishes outsiders like myself is that the commentariat within the USA seems perversely unaware of this failure in the US politico-legal system. With great power – and the power of the US president is, IMHO, far too great – must come great legal responsibility. It’s one of the many failings of the American presidential system that this is not made abundantly clear though black letter law, and plenty of it. Depending on the Constitution, brilliant and wondrous though it might be, is insufficient. 

Written by stewart henderson

November 16, 2019 at 12:18 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for posting this entry…

    The idea of not being able to prosecute the President is a new idea in history. I fail to remember exactly what I was watching that talked about how the DOJ regulation came about during the Nixon Administration when the Department was going after VP Agnew. It was discussed that even the guy that came up with the regulation stated at the time that it was flawed but simply designed to make it easier to go after Agnew.

    It appears SCOTUS will be hearing a case very soon on just this issue – and we don’t know how they will rule…

    P.S. I will try to figure out what I was watching or reading. If I find it, I can come back and add another comment or send directly through the contact form.

    Will Burley

    November 18, 2019 at 6:39 am

    • Hello Will, thanks for your comment.
      It seems the idea of prosecuting a President (or not) hasn’t come up until recently, as you say. Possibly this comes from the constitutional (but elected) presidency being derived from the British constitutional (but hereditary) monarchy, with the monarch being generally regarded as above the law. Having said that, King Charles I was tried and executed for treason in the 1640s, in what was in fact a very thorough and fair trial.
      I don’t know what the current legal status of the British monarch is, but clearly as she’s only a figurehead, that status isn’t as much of a concern as the US President, who has actual nuclear powers. The fact that this is unresolved is appropriately shocking.
      Sadly the Supreme Court is another area in which Presidents have too much power, so I don’t hope for too much from the current version, but who knows…

      stewart henderson

      November 19, 2019 at 8:18 pm

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