John F. Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Profiles in Courage” described in Wikipedia as “short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States senators. The book profiles senators who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions.”
Kennedy wrote, “To be courageous, these stories make clear, requires no exceptional qualifications, no magic formula, no special combination of time, place and circumstance. It is an opportunity that sooner or later is presented to us all. Politics merely furnishes one arena which imposes special tests of courage. In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follow his conscience – the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men – each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient – they can teach, they can offer hope, they provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.”
Time is near for each senator to look into their soul and decide the right thing to do based on the facts presented to them during the trial. It can be hoped, though it may be a pipe dream, they will actually listen to the facts presented and not just the media or even their constituents on one side of the issue or the other. They must determine whether or not the crimes described in the House of Representatives’ Articles of Impeachment rise to the level called for in the Constitution that reads “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
It is clear the Democrats in the House of Representatives decided the actions of Donald Trump have risen to that level. They have now presented two Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. One on using the high office of president for personal gain involving bribery and the other to obstruct the work of the Congress outlined by the Constitution. While the public will debate these issues until the end of time it is to the United States Senate the Constitution gives the job of sitting in judgement. These 100 senators took an oath to uphold the Constitution when they were sworn in and took the following oath administered by Chief Justice Roberts prior to the beginning of the trial and signed their names to it in the Senate Oath book. “That in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”
How many have already lied under oath by swearing to this, including Majority Leader ‘Moscow Mitch’ McConnell (R-Ken.)? He said on television in a recent response to Sean Hannity, “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel. The case is so darn weak coming over from the House. We all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office.”
I am not holding my breath that we will see any Profiles in Courage. I have my opinion on what the Senate should do and that the president’s actions have risen to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. But then I am not on the jury of 100 senators. And this jury is different than a regular courtroom jury that many of us have or will serve on. This jury of 100 may ask questions that they must submit in writing and even have the final decision on what evidence can be admitted and even on how much evidence they are willing to listen to.
So in many ways both sides are presenting their case not only to this jury of 100 but to the American people. It is just about a forgone conclusion this jury of 100 will acquit the president but then the jury of Americans who will vote in 2020 will have the final decision. It will be they who decide if Trump will remain in office for another four years or if they remove him.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.