In the past, whenever I referred to Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippines dictator, it used to be automatic. Someone would always say, “Shoes.”
That would be a reference to his wife, Imelda, who was known to have a collection of around 3,000 shoes. She also spent a lot of time in New York City, crawling on her knees as a supplicant at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the Catholic holidays.
For the New York tabs, a dictator’s wife like Imelda was always good copy.
The memory of Marcos and his wife came to mind when Rep. Jerry Nadler made his last presentation as one of the House Managers in the impeachment trial Friday afternoon.
He saved the best for last, as he spelled out exactly why Trump’s impeachment in the House warrants removal by the Senate.
“President Trump is an outlier,” said Nadler. “He is the first and only president to declare himself unaccountable and to ignore subpoenas backed by the Constitution’s impeachment power.
“If he is not removed from office, if he is permitted to defy the Congress categorically, to say that subpoenas from Congress in the impeachment inquiry are nonsense, then we will have lost, the House, the Senate, all power to hold any president accountable.”
“This is a determination by President Trump that he wants to be all powerful, he does not have to respect the Congress, he does not have to respect the representatives of the people, only his will goes. He is a dictator. This must not stand.”
There were other moments in the four days of Democratic opening arguments. Rep. Adam Schiff, the vegan representing Los Angeles. had his moments of brilliance. Even Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who has seen every modern impeachment, had her moments. So did the other men and women of the People’s House.
But Nadler used the “D” word.
“D” for dictator.
That’s not what America is about.
It struck me with blunt force.
It may be what America is becoming. And without much of a fight.
Because the majority of the senators, despite being digitally handcuffed without devices and forced to listen to every word of the Democrats’ four days of presentation, have already made up their minds.
They went into the proceedings with eyes shut and ears closed because they’ve already pledged allegiance to the notorious T.I.P., “the impeached president,” with a vow to acquit him as soon as possible. Never mind the damning case that featured Trump’s advisers and even Trump’s own words to describe the president’s wrongdoing..
I saw the testimony the first time around in October and November. And the Senate trial was like watching the ESPN highlight reel of damning moments from Ambassadors Sondland and Taylor, Fiona Hill, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, et al.
It hurt the first time around. And now it was displayed on a platter. Catch it on C-SPAN if you didn’t see it live. You’ve got to see it.
Don’t be like the Republicans who simply ignore the facts and don’t bother to refute the chronology. They adopt the president’s line and insist that Trump’s call to Ukraine and all he did was perfect.
And that’s why moment’s like Nadler’s are more important than the retelling of the facts.
If the president’s actions are unrefuted and considered perfect by the Republicans, then Trump is simply the perfect dictator.
There it is again. That word. Dictator.
Schiff and the others liked to use the word “King” in the first few days of the Democrats’ arguments.
A man who puts himself above the law would be a King in the 18th century. And king was a scary term then.
But when Nadler said “Dictator,” my news detector went off. Twenty-four hours of testimony and that hit a nerve.
Republicans are all set to acquit an impeached president and make him de facto dictator?
A strong word. And Nadler saved it for the end.
Schiff’s oratory was brilliant each day. The fear that the Constitution would be lost if it wasn’t defended; that the rule of law was at stake; that Trump will continue to do as he pleases with impunity; that the next person who was president, if he had an ounce of Trumpiness, would be even worse.
All of that showed how bad Trump is.
But boil it all down to a single word, in the event of a Trump acquittal, and we are at “Dictator.”
An American dictatorship.
As Nadler said, that cannot stand.
But it will if Republicans don’t exhibit a patriotic pride and put country over individual concerns.
Scared about Trump drumming them out of office?
In a vote to acquit, the Senate abdicates its role and allows Trump to act as he pleases. If he wants you out, he will get you out. No telling what he will do if he can get away with anything.
Voting to acquit means the Senate has given up its role to check and balance the presidency and hold Trump accountable for his actions. They will have essentially handed in their best weapons to fight off a Trump dictatorship.
The Senate needs 67 votes to convict, which isn’t going to happen.
The Democrats have 47 votes. Are 20 brave Republicans going to join them?
The best we can hope for is four Republicans crossing over to make a 51 vote majority with Democrats to ask for more witnesses and documents so that the American people can see the truly lawless ways of Donald Trump.
But that exposes, it doesn’t remove, and not enough people seem to care.
Asian Americans should care. We know dictators. It’s the reason most of us are here in America.
When the Immigration Act was passed in 1965 and racist quotas on Asians were lifted, the Philippines was dealing with the rise of the Marcos dictatorship. People immigrated to escape the crackdown of the Martial Law era in that country. The Philippines being America’s first colony, the U.S. was the natural destination of choice.
In his closing remarks, House Manager Schiff referred to countries that look to America for guidance and specifically mentioned the Philippines’ modern day woes, where an autocratic leader believes in fighting drug wars with extrajudicial murders.
For guidance, Schiff lamented, “they look to us.”
Where will they look if the model democracy fails them?
The likely Trump acquittal will leave open up a gap for even greater nastiness at home and around the world.
You think it was bad with the travel ban, DACA deportations, family separations? Here come Social Security cuts, immigration restrictions, and who knows what next.
Checks and balances from Congress? Gone. The Supreme Court? The Trumpy math at SCOTUS is already set
Ukraine was the last hope. And when the president gets away with what he’s done there, he’ll be aiming even higher knowing nothing stands in his way.
Unless the senators join fellow patriots to remove this president, America just won’t be the same.
The votes will all be on the record. And Nadler will be right. The GOP will have given birth to the first American dictatorship.