I have watched more than 16 hours of the Jan. 6 committee hearings and plan to watch the rest. I have learned some things, though not many. And I grant that the hearings might have been more effective if some aggressive Republicans—one imagines Rep.
scowling in his shirt sleeves—were present to cross-examine the witnesses. But then I have my own motive for watching. I hope they will sweep
out of public life and return American politics to their old, calm, yes even dull days.
The hearings have revealed that Mr. Trump clearly enjoyed the violence visited on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021—and that he inspired it. He has yet to renounce that violence or denounce the groups that participated in it. A bully, a narcissist and a sociopath, Mr. Trump has been called many names, but he is above all shameless, which isn’t the first quality one looks for in a president.
Granted, he stabilized the economy, slashed regulations, and stimulated employment among blacks and Hispanics. He forced various North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to pull their weight, got us out of the misbegotten treaty with Iran, and moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. One could even argue that
might not have gone into Ukraine had Mr. Trump still been president.
But, discredit where discredit is due, Mr. Trump is also responsible for
who may go down as among the most ineffective presidents in American history. Mr. Biden won 81 million votes in 2020. Yet who can doubt that roughly 50 million were votes less for him than against Mr. Trump, whose relentlessly rebarbative style pushed his accomplishments into the shadows? Mr. Biden meanwhile went back on his promise to unite the country and instead led a progressive program of big spending that, along with inducing inflation, further divided the country.
The Jan. 6 committee investigation may end in a call for a criminal indictment of Mr. Trump. My hope is that at a minimum it will quash in the former president’s mind the idea of running again in 2024. The prospect of a second Trump-Biden election invokes a staggering sadness for the fate of our country. How did America come to such an unhappy choice, which it may face again in 2024?
My sense is that, just as Mr. Trump gave us Joe Biden, liberal culture earlier gave us Mr. Trump. It’s easy to imagine all those Americans, struggling to make a living, worrying about the fate of their families amid rising crime and plummeting educational standards, tuning their TV sets in 2014 and 2015 to the antipolice riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. Changing the channel, they heard college students say that disagreement made them feel unsafe. On another channel they were told that failing to celebrate transgenderism made them bigots. Bring on the Donald!
Various polls show that as many as 85% of Americans feel the country is heading in the wrong direction. Surely one of the chief reasons is that for six years it has been led by men of dubious character. I haven’t voted in the past two presidential elections—on both occasions being unable to discern the lesser-evil candidate—but I can think of several current-day politicians I would be able to vote for in 2024, among them Sens.
and former Rep.
None are corrupt; none, unlike Messrs. Trump and Biden, off-the-wall nutty.
All of which is why I wish the Jan. 6 committee well in disqualifying Mr. Trump from high office. In doing so, it would also likely eliminate the candidacy of Mr. Biden, for it has been said, with some persuasiveness, that the only hope he has to win re-election is to be opposed by Mr. Trump.
In Chicago, where all politicians are thought guilty until proven innocent, and where that presumption is usually right, we cry, “Throw the bums out!” In their different ways, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have proven themselves bums of the first order. The sooner both are out, the better for the country.
Mr. Epstein is author, most recently, of “Gallimaufry: A Collection of Essays, Reviews, Bits.”
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