I remember my first speeding ticket and it happened about 20 seconds after I got my driver’s license. I was a young man in a hurry to get after the business of life, and I was ready to experience it behind the wheel of my mom’s Buick Electra.
What I remember the most about the ticket was that bottomless sensation of dread when I saw those flashing red and blue lights behind me. Also, it seemed to take the patrolman about three hours to walk the 20-foot distance between his car and mine after we had pulled over. I had broken the law and for all I knew there was a special capital punishment provision for first-time speeders.
Over the years I would get more speeding tickets. I would try out different strategies to plea bargain for a warning (presenting a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” from a Monopoly game seems to work best) but when the officer’s pen hit the ticket pad it was game over. No more fussing, no whining, no disrespect to the police officer. The law had been broken, punishment had been meted out and society had been saved from speeding anarchists like myself.
For our society to be free we have to have laws to govern the boundaries of our behavior so that we do not tread on the freedoms of others. America grants its citizens a lot of freedoms and on that basis has a lot of laws which, in theory, are applied equally and without prejudice to all of us. Unless you happen to be the President.
There are a lot of things that disturb me about Donald Trump but the fact that he has increasingly treated the rule of law as mere suggestions has started to bother me. And I am well aware of the fact that many of you voted for the man but I’m going to give you a pass on that for today because there is no way you could have imagined this kind of behavior coming. That’s my olive branch — I just want a little critical reading ability displayed in return.
For starters, how can you get away with obstructing justice while you are on trial for obstructing justice? In a nutshell, that’s basically what happened during the impeachment. The House of Representatives would call for a witness and the White House would deny them that witness. The House of Representatives would subpoena a document and the White House would ignore the subpoena. And on and on.
I can accept the idea that partisan politics provided quite a bit of motivation in this process — just as it played a role in Bill Clinton’s impeachment — but I don’t believe that there are “Republican” or “Democrat” laws. There is only THE law. Donald Trump broke it and then perverted the process of inquiry into his infraction. He claimed it was a partisan issue. The law is not a partisan institution.
I did write a column to the effect that I believed Trump would be found not guilty in the eventual trial and I am not crying sour grapes here. This is just a set up for what has been going on since the impeachment trial ended. This is where the story gets really scary.
But to start I would have to start in 2016 when Trump — while involved in a lawsuit over the legitimacy of Trump University — complained about the judge’s “Mexican heritage.” Trump’s critics took this as a sign of latent racism and I don’t disagree with them but in hindsight his statement also could have been interpreted as being indicative of his lack of respect for our legal system.
In my opinion, if you say anything to a law officer or judge other than “yes,” “no,” “sir” or “ma’am” then you go straight to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. That’s the level of respect that I, and presumably you, have for the process. That’s the way it has to be for our society to continue to function properly.
Immediately after getting a speeding ticket I drive in a “chastened” manner — for a while, anyway. And you might think that after the impeachment Donald Trump might take a more chastened approach to our legal system. But…. noooo. Quite the opposite.
Donald Trump, perceiving himself to be unbound by the legal system, has used his time to pardon one convicted felon (Rod Blagojevich), interfere with the sentencing recommendations of another (Roger Stone), criticize his own Attorney General for not going along with it, and then insist that two Supreme Court justices recuse themselves from “Trump-related” cases.
Personally, and as a direct result of the drunken “lobster fight” that took place in the supermarket while I was in college, I consider myself to be disqualified from public service. That’s another story. But, in the meantime, I’ve got to ask how many “Trump-related” cases are we talking about? Who does this guy think he is?