The New York Times Dares To Ask: Should Criminal Presidents Be Charged With Crimes
Oh Lord, what is wrong with the New York Times? Besides the terrible transgender coverage, of course. And the jizzing itself over its love for the terrible Ron DeSantis. And the terrible opinion page that recently brought on David French and Pamela Paul to supplement the already terrible Holy Trinity of Brooks, Douthat, and Stephens. And the endless terrible “Illiberal college students are the greatest threat to the Republic since General Brock croaked at the Battle of Queenston Heights” stories. And Maggie Haberman.
They even keep screwing up our Wordle stats.
Yesterday the Times in its wisdom allowed political correspondent Peter Baker to spend a couple of thousand words fretting over What It All Means that America has indicted a former president, the always terrible Donald Trump, for (ALLEGED!) crimes. Has something irretrievably broken in our fair nation? Will our politics ever be the same? Might "Meet the Press" finally start stocking Toblerones in the green room?
For all of the focus on the tawdry details of the case or its novel legal theory or its political impact, the larger story is of a country heading down a road it has never traveled before, one fraught with profound consequences for the health of the world’s oldest democracy.
Correct! Not indicting a president who has committed more crimes than the entire Grand Theft Auto franchise might have terrible consequences for the health of American democracy. Glad we agree.
For more than two centuries, presidents have been held on a pedestal, even the ones swathed in scandal, declared immune from prosecution while in office and, effectively, even afterward.
Yes. This was a bad thing to do. Yr America regrets the error and Richard Nixon can burn in hell.
That taboo has been broken. A new precedent has been set. Will it tear the country apart, as some feared about putting a former president on trial after Watergate? Will it be seen by many at home and abroad as victor’s justice akin to developing nations where former leaders are imprisoned by their successors? Or will it become a moment of reckoning, a sign that even someone who was once the most powerful person on the planet is not above the law?
We think it would be helpful to view the issue through the lens of how not putting a president on trial after Watergate – or Iran-contra, for that matter – has actually in many ways torn the country apart. Legitimizing Nixon’s behavior was one large stone in the road that paved the way for the miasma of criminality and hair spray that is Donald Trump.
On the other hand, had the country established the principle that presidents who break the law as flagrantly as Nixon did will be punished, we might not have spent the last half-century lowering our standards to the point where this gaudy, cheap crook became our most important national political figure.
Think of it as the moment in World War Z where the Israeli soldier gets bitten by a zombie, and Brad Pitt has to chop off her arm to keep the infection from spreading and turning her into a zombie. Richard Nixon was the zombie bite, only Brad Pitt didn’t cut off the soldier’s arm, and now America is a brainless, bloodthirsty ball of frothing rage hurtling itself off of buildings in its animalistic drive for human flesh.
Or you can be a Times writer and worry that holding a president accountable for his crimes might negatively affect some abstract principle of national unity to the point that it sounds like a bad idea, a principle that the 99 percent of the population that is not obsessed with political norms won’t ever think about. What that 99 percent sees is that the most flagrantly, transparently criminal president in history is proudly boasting about getting away with it. Might the long-term effects of seeing that also do damage to the national psyche?
We don’t know, we’re not highly paid pundits. Really, barely average probably.
There is consternation that the barrier-shattering indictment would involve something as unseemly as paying hush money to cover up a sexual romp.
Bill Clinton was actually impeached for the crime of lying under oath about a blow job, and there were still Republicans who wanted to prosecute him after he left office. This barrier shattered a long time ago.
[O]thers worry about the long-term consequences for the presidency, not least because this indictment is being brought by a local prosecutor rather than the Justice Department, opening the door to prosecutors around the country taking it upon themselves to go after a president.
If those other prosecutors have strong evidence of a crime being committed and said president is no longer in office, then fine. This is what we should all want! Sure, some overeager D.A. will abuse that someday, because people abuse everything. But one can of worms at a time.
After that there is a lot more blah blah blah about stress-testing the system, as if letting Trump go would not be a major stress test itself.
There are only bad choices here. We might as well make the one that is morally and legally correct.
“[Gerald Ford] wasn’t forgiving Nixon so much as he was trying to forget him,” Mr. Smith said. “That is, to counter the popular, political and media obsession that, quite understandably, had formed around the previously unthinkable concept of an American president facing jail time.”
Once again, yr America regrets the error.