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A blog by Leon Oudejans

Principles vs pragmatism

31 May 2019


Robert Mueller gave a rare public statement yesterday, which can be summarized as follows: (i) the 45th President was not cleared of wrongdoing, (ii) if he would have been cleared then that fact would have been in Mueller’s report, (iii) US law forbids incriminating a President who is still in office, and (iv) only Congress can charge the 45th President (eg, FT, WSJ).

Democrats appear having two choices: either follow their principles or be pragmatic.

The issue of pragmatism is important because it’s extremely unlikely that a 2/3 supermajority for impeachment will emerge in the US Senate. The reason is simple: Republicans control the US Senate and are unlikely to withdraw their support for Trump. There are some exceptions though, like House Republican Justin Amash (eg, Vox).

Following one’s principles might make sense to people. There is a chance of a (Pyrrhic) victory in the US House of Representatives. The danger lies in the extremely likely defeat in the US Senate, which would then probably benefit Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.

It seems to me that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is looking for a hybrid solution, which would imply that impeachment will only be started once a pragmatic outcome is “secured“. I think, feel and believe that the many Democratic investigations against Trump, his family, his businesses, and his allies are aimed at finding additional evidence that would “secure” his impeachment.

In 2015, the Republicans made a terrible mistake by not vetting “their” candidate Trump. At least, I hope so because the alternative would be far worseWiki: “Vetting is the process of performing a background check on someone before offering them employment, conferring an award, or doing fact checking prior to making any decision.”

That vetting process did, however, happen although it was ordered by Fusion GPS, which is “a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington, D.C.”. That vetting process resulted in the (in)famous Steele dossier, which was ultimately published by BuzzFeed on 10 January 2017 but months after Trump’s election (eg, BuzzFeed publication, Wiki).

Increasingly, the Republicans are facing a similar dilemma as the Dems: will we stick to our President (as a matter of principle), or will we be pragmatic, cut him loose, and take our chances?

The ongoing investigations against Trump, his family, his businesses, and his allies will be crucial in resolving this dilemma: principles versus pragmatism.

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.” A quote generally attributed to American comedian Groucho Marx (1890-1977).

Man of Principle (1988) by Jethro Tull

artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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