The Rational and the Emotional of Trump Trial Day 2

Commentary

What a day!

I wrote this as I was watching the House managers make their case against Donald Trump in Day 2 of his impeachment trial.

As I watched, I had two responses – one rational; the second emotional.

The rational response was clear. The case they were making, the logic, the brick-by-brick presentation of the facts, the evidence, was brilliant. As each manager came to the podium to make his or her case, I watched in awe. Watching their presentations, managed by Jamie Raskin, ably supported by Joe Neguse (a budding superstar), Julian Castro, Eric Swalwell, Madeleine Dean, Ted Liu, Stacey Plaskett, David Cicilline…, all I could think of was that there could not be a more compelling case for conviction; there could not be a more brilliant group of prosecutors anywhere; there could not be anyone who actually has a working brain, and is paying attention (looking at you Josh Hawley*), who could vote to acquit Donald Trump. Perhaps I’m a Pollyanna; perhaps my rational response is really irrational; but there cannot be any other outcome.

The emotional response is more difficult to express. I guess that’s why it’s emotional. As I watched the videos, the ones I’d already seen as well as the new ones shown for the first time today, I had a visceral reaction, a feeling in my gut, an emotional response I’ve never encountered before. I actually shivered. I hyperventilated. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched the horror being replayed on my TV; as I watched the horror of the assault on our democracy, an assault incited by the President of the United States.

As I took a few breaths to calm down, I thought about the House team. Jamie Raskin, a father who buried his son the day before the assault, was clear-headed and emotional at the same time. Watching Neguse, Castro, Liu and Plaskett, each either an immigrant or a child of immigrants, made me feel, for perhaps the first time since Obama left office, truly proud to be an American. I watched, astonished, as Swalwell and Dean demonstrated their prosecutorial adroitness. And then, in a brilliant summation, Cicilline showed, as the riot escalated, Trump not only didn’t try to stop it, he continued to encourage it.

And then I paused; I thought again about what I saw. I thought about the people who carried out the insurrection – these people, this mob, these thugs, these insurrectionists – they don’t look like me, they don’t sound like me, they don’t act like me. But, like me, they’re Americans. They’re my fellow citizens. And their your fellow citizens. Think about that as you reflect on your America.

There are 50 Republicans in the Senate, all also fellow citizens. Forty-four of them, using Trump’s words, apparently are “strong Republicans” who watched what I watched (with the possible exception of Josh Hawley*). Did any of those 44, after watching what I watched, get a visceral reaction, a feeling in their gut, an emotional response they’ve never encountered before?

Based on Senator Mike Lee’s classless move to “strike from the record” an insignificant comment attributed to him in the managers’ statements, I fear they haven’t.

And if they haven’t, how will they vote now that they seen the incontrovertible evidence? And, with more coming tomorrow.

Here they are – the list of the strong and weak Republicans. How do you think this list will look next week?

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy.

9 thoughts on “The Rational and the Emotional of Trump Trial Day 2

  1. I know they didn’t hear anything today. They voted “NO” on the constitutionality issue and don’t believe this is necessary. They are all too afraid of the Trump voters and Trump family. That is the cover that they give themselves for their “Strong” Republican views. I think that they are traitors to their country. They are willing to send young men to fight for democracy, but not themselves.

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    1. Eileen, as usual, you are correct. And Heather Cox Richardson makes your case:

      https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/february-10-2021?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoxMTc5MjI3NiwicG9zdF9pZCI6MzI0MzE0OTMsIl8iOiJQb1JZRCIsImlhdCI6MTYxMzA0NzczNiwiZXhwIjoxNjEzMDUxMzM2LCJpc3MiOiJwdWItMjA1MzMiLCJzdWIiOiJwb3N0LXJlYWN0aW9uIn0.pROi6puKUSyO7-
      bqqryKNezFwzw4xmnz43Wmks5THTI

      –Senator Lindsey Graham tonight called the day’s presentation “offensive and absurd.”

      –Still others say that, even if what happened is horrific, the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, although the fact the Senate voted that it is constitutional should mean that point is settled.

      –Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) told CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles, “I’m learning things. But, again, my basic point is we shouldn’t have having this trial.” (Johnson, in another interview, said after all, “Hillary Clinton told Biden to never concede.”

      As I wrote to another correspondent, “These people represent 1/2 of our America. It is chilling! No, not chilling, the evidence the managers presented was chilling. The overwhelming Republican response is revolting, repellent, repugnant and repulsive!

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  2. The folks on PBS reported the same today but you made it even more vivid in your description. I will try to watch some tomorrow. I’m not hopeful it will change many minds but it has to be done. T

    Sent from my iPhone

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  3. It’s visceral, that people that live and represent our country can DENY this horrific attack on our democracy. They need to be removed from all governing bodies..they want to over throw our government

    Sent from my iPad

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  4. Hi, thank you for this great and very informative post! I recently published an article on my blog about why impeachment may not be the most appropriate option in the case of Trump. I’m from Australia, so have an external perspective to the situation, but would be very interested to hear your thoughts on my article! If you have time to read it, that would be great 🙂 Thank you and wishing you well!

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    1. Dear thelevinelowdown,

      Thank you for your comments and your kind thoughts. I read the article you published on your blog and wanted to get back to you with my views.

      But first: You mention that you’re from Australia. Where? I spent many years in business in Asia/Pacific and made many trips Down Under, mostly to Sydney and Melbourne. We should compare notes.

      Having said that, here’s my “external perspective.”

      I disagree with the premise that “impeachment may not be the most appropriate option in the case of Trump.” In fact, despite the outcome, it was not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary.

      Having said that, I am not an attorney; as you might have read in my bio in “Around the Block,” I’m a retired ad guy. So, please take my comments with that in mind.

      As Oliver Pope writes, free speech is protected “unless their speech directly incites violence.” The Senate trial conclusively proved that Donald Trump’s “speech” incited violence. While Mr. Pope mostly limits his argument to “Trump’s spoken rhetoric” at the January 6th rally at the Ellipse, I think we need to define “speech” in contemporary terms. During the Founders’ time, speech was limited to oral speech and journals, pamphlets and periodicals. Clearly that is not the case in the 21st century. And clearly not for Donald Trump. Trump’s cries of “fight like hell” at that rally did not constitute the entirety of his inciting speech. As the House managers effectively and conclusively presented, Trump’s incitement to riot was the result of months of inciting speech – in rallies, tweets and other means, promoting his election “big lie” prior to the election, followed by his constant, single-minded perpetuation of that lie after he lost the election. It was ironic that the Republicans derided the impeachment process because it diverted the Senate’s attention from the critical issues the country faces; ironic because for the final two-plus months of Trump’s term, he did no work for the country, instead focusing his entire attention on trying to “steal” a clean, legal election that he claimed, untruthfully, was stolen from him.

      If nothing else, the impeachment trial opened the country’s eyes to Trump’s malevolent behavior and dereliction of duty. And for that it served an important purpose. Even Mitch McConnell’s eyes were opened as evidenced by his incredible speech on the Senate floor post-trial where he said that Trump was, in fact, guilty; this, despite the fact that he voted not guilty based on a dubious technicality…a technicality that was created by McConnell himself.

      I reject Mr. Pope’s conclusion that “no illegality was committed on the part of Trump.” You simply cannot come to that conclusion after watching the week’s events. As I wrote above, even Mitch McConnell agrees that illegality was committed, recommending in his speech, that Trump should be brought up on charges by Federal authorities.

      I do agree with Mr. Pope that impeachment is a legal/political endeavor, but not “pseudo” in the sense that “pseudo” means “sham,” “bogus,” or “ersatz.” Impeachment is a legitimate solution for political malfeasance. Donald Trump was lawfully impeached while in office. The argument that a political figure cannot be tried for that impeachment after he leaves office, “the technicality,” is spurious; there is precedent to this: Senator William Blount in 1797 and Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. And, as I alluded to before, that technicality – the only reason the trial did not start while Trump was in office – was because McConnell wouldn’t agree to bringing the case to the Senate floor until after the Biden inauguration – and after Trump left office. Talk about circular logic!

      Regarding Mr. Pope’s argument that “every politician and prominent media figure also has to answer for their involvement in exacerbating the tensions and divisions in America” – he might be correct. But Donald Trump was not “every politician and prominent media figure.” He was the most powerful person in the world. He was the President of the United States.

      Thanks to you for following Around the Block. Stay healthy. Stay safe. And all the best.

      Ted Block

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Ted, Thank you for the detailed response. Before I respond, I just thought that I’d share that this is the first article I have written for a wider online audience and I’m still learning how to approach and research issues more broadly. In saying that, the comments I have received have been very beneficial in identifying my own biases and ignorance. I now further appreciate that with more power comes more responsibility. The House Managers also presented some compelling arguments that I hadn’t previously considered when I wrote the article at the beginning of the week. I can’t really fault your rebuttal and I thank you for taking the time to extend my thinking. Oliver (Blog Guest Writer)

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  5. I love Australia and both Sydney and Melbourne. Now that I’ve invoked your ire – while I’m originally from New York, I lived in San Francisco for over 40 years – I understand that the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry is similar to the SF/LA one. (In my years in Japan, I was also aware of the Tokyo/Osaka rivalry. But that is no a no-contest, settled years ago)

    While my view regarding the California competition is a no-brainer…San Francisco all the way, I’m not sure about SYD/MEL, since I’ve visited both but have no vested interest. (re: SF – In this trial, I am not an unbiased juror, unlike Republican senators were supposed to be.) My own view is this: Sydney and San Francisco are similar in a number of ways; both are astonishingly physically beautiful cities, both have breathtaking harbors, both have world-famous bridges, both have world-renowned opera companies (although nothing in the world compares to the Sydney Opera House).

    But Melbourne, like San Francisco has a charm and a quaintness that seems missing in LA and Sydney. And, of course both Melbourne and San Francisco have always been looked at as slower, less glittery seconds to their geographical northern/southern cousins. (In the case of SF, that has probably changed somewhat due to the technology revolution that was born and continues to be centered there). In any event three wonderful, world-class cities (and Los Angeles). What could be better than the west coast of the United States and the east coast of Australia!

    One last thing: I’m confused about to whom I’m writing, since apparently I’m hearing from both the guest writer, Oliver, and the site owner Levine Lowdown. If either of you want to continue this conversation, perhaps you can reach out to me at this address: tedblock@around-the-block.com.

    Cheers,

    Ted

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