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Liz Cheney's Path to the Presidency -- the T Word
Warning: If you are an ardent supporter of former President Trump who believes the election was stolen, do not read this. It will deeply upset you. Also, don’t read this if you only seek my views on economics and personal finance.
Let me provide some quick background for what’s coming. I ran for President as an independent write-in candidate in 2016. This tells you three things. First, I’m neither a Red nor a Blue. Second, I thought neither Trump nor Clinton should be running the country. Third, I’m an unusual academic economist.
Google the word treason. Here’s the first thing that comes up:
The crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.
This perfectly describes former President Trump’s infamous actions on January 6th. Liz Cheney has detailed Trump’s perfidy with all manner of words except one — the T word, Traitor.
America’s other great traitor was Benedict Arnold, who turned coat and attempted to deliver West Point to the British in the middle of the Revolution. Arnold provided outstanding military service to the country, but he felt under-appreciated. He and his high-society wife were also crazed about money. And Arnold’s deal with the British paid him handsomely.
Under-appreciated and obsessed with money. Hmm. Who fits that bill?
I think Trump betrayed and continues to betray our country in a host of ways. Indeed, I was the first person to call him a traitor in print. (Before it was changed by Forbes editors, this 2018 column’s title was Time to Call Trump by his Real Name — Traitor.)
Traitor is a strong word. So, let me ask a few questions to check if the appellation fits. Let’s start with the basic one, the answer to which Google knows by heart.
What does it mean to commit treason?
It means attempt to overthrow the government.
Does someone who organizes a massive gathering, which he knows is armed, directs them to march to the Capital, and tells them to “fight like hell” — to “persuade” the Vice President and members of Congress to nullify the election — Is that person attempting to overthrow the government by intimidation if not direct violence?
Does someone who sits back and avidly watches the mob ransack the capital and assault 140 police officers, leading to deaths, suicides, and permanent injury, and not lift a finger to stop the attack — Is that person acting by not acting?
He certainly is.
Would Trump’s shouting “attack, maim, destroy, hang” have been any different from what he did — let others say those words and commit those crimes in his name, knowing that they knew he was endorsing their words and actions with his silence?
It would have been no different.
What do we make of Trump’s failure to order the mob to stop its attack when he had the power to do so? Does this tell us he was ordering the mob to sustain its attack right up to the moment that he ordered it to disperse?
Did Trump know he had the power to order his mob to stand down?
Certainly. Why else would he have spent hours turning down desperate pleas from his most ardent sycophants to tell the mob to leave? Why entertain those pleas if he had no such power?
The January 6th Committee has done an outstanding service to the country in presenting the facts of January 6th. But it has failed to make clear that Trump’s failure to act — for 3 hours and 7 minutes — was, itself, an action.
By letting the attack continue and by sending, mid-riot, two tweets that were obvious coded messages telling the mob to continue their attack, Trump directed the attempted overthrow of our government in real-time.
Trump, of course, is Teflon Don.
Trump may not be indicted by the Department of Justice for sedition. He may not be indicted by the Department of Justice for wire fraud connected with illegally soliciting campaign contributions. He may not be indicted by the New York Attorney General for financial fraud. He may not be indicted by the Fulton, County Georgia District Attorney for election interference. And he may not be indicted by the Department of Justice for espionage or the mishandling of federal documents.
No matter. Every sentient American who doesn’t believe in Martians knows in their hearts that Trump committed these crimes. They also know Trump is a traitor — the greatest traitor our country has yet produced.
Liz Cheney and I differ on almost all policy issues. But she is a profile in courage. She’s also a politician. And she partly held her tongue running for re-election. Now that she’s lost her Congressional primary race, she’s free to let loose.
Abraham Lincoln, who came up short in two big elections before winning the Presidency, drew a verbal battle line in his first inaugural address:
You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."
With those words, Lincoln made clear that he would do whatever was needed to save the union, that there would be war, and that everyone in the country had to take sides.
Cheney is running (not yet formally) for President and doing so against all odds. But those are odds she can change. The key is to call he who should not be named by his real name — Traitor — and to get every patriotic American to do the same.
This will force Trump’s supporters to choose sides. They can continue to stand with the fraudster, the criminal, the con man, the narcissist, the misogynist, the racist, the anti-semite, the fascist, the Putin lapdog, the incessant liar, the Kim Jong-un love object, and the traitor. If they do, it will come at a very painful price.
Or they can jump into the trenches with Cheney and defend our country — not with guns or planes or missiles, but with a single word that starts with the letter T. My bet — they will dump Trump like a hot and very rotten potato. Otherwise, they will be haunted for the rest of their days by the image of a traitor staring back at them in the mirror.