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We Will All Want Pardons In 2024
From the election most of us don't want
There was always a “there” there. Something was there.
Donald Trump, fearing a strong challenge from then-former Vice President Joe Biden, wanted “dirt from Ukraine” so much that he got himself impeached. We all remember it. Ethics were compromised, constitutional procedures ensued, Trump was shady but not convicted because he is the smart sort of crook who never writes anything down, and absolutely everybody was unhappy at the end of it.
The dirt existed, though. It existed the whole time Democrats were impeaching Trump. Some of them probably knew about it at the time.
What’s more, Rudy Giuliani knew about it, and if he knew about it then the Russians and the FBI both knew about it. When the letter purportedly disavowing Hunter Biden’s laptop as “Russian disinformation” emerged right after the October laptop surprise, it was a garbled confession from the intelligence community that they knew that the Russians knew that Guliani knew about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Americans outside Washington, DC were the last of all to know it existed, or to find out what it really meant.
Which is not to say that I want a do-over. Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election by a laptop any more than Trump won the 2016 election by a Russian Facebook page. No one who is not a partisan wants to relitigate all of that. Most Americans would like a pardon from being forced to think about it all, all over again.
Note to Biden partisans: he might be the only person capable of reelecting Trump. In 2020, the “double haters” — voters who disliked both major party nominees — decided the election. Biden is now in real trouble with these voters. They could flip on him next November.
Note to Trump partisans: he might be the only person capable of reelecting Biden. To be sure, every new set of legal woes reminds Trump supporters about a laundry list of grievances, resurrecting his popularity. Sooner or later, however, both Trump and his most enthusiastic voters must reckon with at least some of these charges sticking.
In his declassification case, Trump has recorded admissions that will probably lead to conviction. “It’s difficult to even imagine what Trump’s defense in this case might be, given the detailed nature of the evidence of guilt presented here,” writes John Schindler.
Fulton County, Georgia prosecutors are reportedly preparing racketering charges against Trump related to post-election shenanigans in 2020. By my count, there are six courtrooms where Donald Trump will need to be during the time he is supposed to be on the campaign trail. A jury conviction of their presumptive nominee would be quite an emergency for the GOP.
Charges of conspiracy and obstruction in the January 6 Capitol Hill riot were unveiled late last week. They are contentious, but also serious. More than half of Republican voters want the 1/6 particpants pardoned. However, Trump needs a pardon of his own. His nomination will be consumed with talk of self-pardon. Put simply, Trump will be running on a platform of pardon-talk: You get a pardon! And I get a pardon! And you get a pardon! And I get a pardon! I get five pardons! You get a pardon too! Another pardon for me!
Which, ahem, Democrats.
That laptop is not going away.
Anger at intelligence professionals and Twitter executives squelching the Hunter Biden laptop story — anger at the cover-up of the crime — is not going away.
Joe Biden says he will not pardon his son. Howewer, he clearly ran interference for Hunter when he was vice president, or “the big guy” as Joe Biden was known to the IRS agents who say they were stymied in their investigation of Hunter.
Investigations of the son point to the father. Hunter allegedly invoked his father while trying to collect on a bill from a Chinese Communist Party official. He reportedly did the same with a Burisma executive.
If Hunter did do this, and did it without his father’s approval, then his father needs to disown his actions. If he did it with his father’s approval, then Joe Biden does not need to be president anymore.
The laptop contents show that tens of millions of dollars in Chinese money flowed into Hunter Biden’s hands. Hunter then shared at least $2 million with an uncle and paid some of his father’s bills while he was in the White House.
As I have written before, we are waiting on someone to show us the Burisma money. We may eventually hear the tapes that the still-nameless Burisma executive claims to have recorded. Joe Biden denies the story in whole.
In the meantime, a federal judge has blocked Hunter Biden’s plea deal with prosecutors on tax evasion and gun charges because it was “outside the norm.” Indeed.
The Biden family business provides no discernible product or service in return for these substantial donations. Unlike, say, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Biden family business does not support a substantial charitable cause. Everyone can see that this is grift. The only question is how much grift is there. It always was there.
Hiring prostitutes on an expense account is the least of the problems with Hunter’s accounting and business practices. Republicans rightly smell blood in the water and they are circling in Congress.
Hearings are coming. A potential election-year impeachment looms. At the very least, the appointment of a special prosecutor is warranted. Hooray, just what Americans wanted least: another president under serious investigation while running for re-election. These charges are at least as serious as the most serious charges against Trump.
Americans did not want a rematch between Trump and Biden, either. At the moment they are getting one, anyway. In this new environment, those ‘double haters’ are going to break again decisively, but there is no guarantee which way they will break.
In 2020, Biden benefitted from the exhaustion of American voters. Trump’s endless presidency-by-shitter-tweet had worn thin. Biden won as ‘Joe Normal,’ a president that Americans did not have to think about every day.
As president, however, Biden has adopted an aggressively ‘woke’ agenda that repels the ‘double haters.’
Nor can Joe Biden cut off speculation about a pardon for Hunter. Already, his age and evident decline are fueling speculations that he intends to resign in his second term and pass the presidency to Kamala Harris, who could pardon both Bidens. Her ‘woke’ gibberish is in turn fueling speculations that Biden will change running-mates in 2024.
Note that I have heard these speculative scenarios from the physical mouths of lifelong Democrats in the last several months. The hardest-working, rank-and-file party membership understand that they have a serious problem at the top of the ticket. Some of them are the most frustrated of all with the ‘woke’ turn in Biden and Harris.
Rightly or wrongly, a Trump-Biden rematch will be seen as a race to grasp the pardon power. Any winnable voters left in America will perceive both Donald Trump and Joe Biden as corrupt men trying to escape the consequences of their corruption. That is probably the single most debilitating scenario imaginable for American democracy, as well as for Democrats.
If neither party can discipline its leaders — if the party leaders are simply competing at corruption — voter participation becomes moot. Politics in such a state are purely about power. Justice becomes even more vindictive, not to mention fungible.
The American voter would like a pardon from this choice. A candidate looking to overtake these front-runners with a unifying message might consider the idea of a general pardon for everyone.
Americans who do not love Trump would love nothing better than to stop hearing about him. Americans who do not like Biden would love him to go away, too, even at the cost of a pardon for Hunter.
Negative partisanship is the most underappreciated force in American politics. To be heard, a positive message might escape the partisan trap of mutual recrimination over pardons for one party by promising pardons for all parties.
Now, I am not saying that any particular candidate will make this proposal at any particular date, or that people will be ready for it just yet, right now, or next month, or by the beginning of next year.
However, the moment may come soon enough for a shrewd candidate to offer a way out of this predicament. Perhaps we will see the issue emerge at a Republican primary debate. Someone, somewhere might eventually think to poll the question, and then everyone could argue about it, and maybe a new consensus would emerge.
Or this might not happen. We might be stuck in hell watching both major party nominees mud-wrestle in each others’ reputations while the same voters as before decide which turkey disgusts them less. We may have been set down this path a long time ago and now there is no escape from the past.
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