Frankly My Dear, the Base Doesn't Give a Damn

Trump is facing trial for what some term an insurrection, or at least an attempt to overthrow a fair election. The endless possibilities are not very good. And despite the hopes of liberals, not a slam dunk. Despite the hopes of conservatives, the results will be humiliating - no matter how it goes

Frankly My Dear, the Base Doesn't Give a Damn
I'm apparently reduced to commanding a bunch of guys with TIKI torches.

Before I get to the serious part of this missive, which for me is a very relative term, I have to address the latest comments from the man on track to be the Republican nominee for President next year. No, not his Christmas greeting telling some folks to "Rot in Hell," which is ironically, the slogan for Putin's latest Presidential bid.

No, it's the latest example of Donald wrestling the truth to the ground and beating it into submission. And it's all over a silly movie.

In 1992, a filmmaker named Chris Columbus directed the sequel to his very successful Christmas movie, "Home Alone." The latest case of the post-Presidential sulks began with an interview of Columbus in Business Insider. He said that they wanted to shoot in the Plaza Hotel in New York, which Trump owned at the time. Columbus says Trump wouldn't give permission unless he put him in the movie. The part totals 8 seconds of running time.

Now, Trump says that's hooey and they begged him for the cameo. In addition, he claimed...

“They rented the Plaza Hotel in New York, which I owned at the time. I was very busy, and didn’t want to do it. They were very nice, but above all, persistent. I agreed, and the rest is history! That little cameo took off like a rocket and the movie was a big success, and still is, especially around Christmastime. People call me whenever it is aired.”

The 8-second shot heard around the movie world. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing he turned down an Oscar nomination for it and told them to give it to Anthony Hopkins for that sheep movie.

And given Melania's apparent disinterest in this campaign, the title "Home Alone 2" may simply mean a second Trump term.

But seriously, I'd like to address the idea of a President facing trial for what some term an insurrection, but was at the very least, an attempt to overthrow the results of a fair election. The possibilities are endless and not really very good. And despite the hopes of my liberal friends, not a slam dunk. Despite the hopes of my conservative friends, the results will be humiliating to say the least, no matter how it goes.

Oh, come on. I'm humiliation proof.

We all know the Colorado Supreme Court has removed the Donald from the ballot, as has the Secretary of State in Maine under the "insurrection clause" of the 14th Amendment.  Then there are the various trials he faces, some of them involving the events of January 6th, 2021. Will any jury in New York, Florida, Georgia, or Washington, D.C., convict him of a crime? It could go either way.

He could be acquitted, to the great frustration of Democrats. Or he could be convicted, which will get MAGA knickers in a giant twist. In which case, he could possibly win the election, and pardon himself. Which will also save the nation from the pretend second Civil War that his most fervent dimwits keep threatening.

Whichever way it goes, a sizable portion of the country will be royally PO'd. And that's what political strategists on both sides are weighing right now. It seems that he really could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not disturb his base. And if that person was a New York DA, well that's a two-birds/one-stone situation.

But what if it was determined that the social fabric of the country was so threadbare that it seems less incendiary to let him get away with the simple mountain of evidence presented by the January 6th Committee and call it a day? Could we be looking at a situation similar to Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon to "help the country heal?" Now, that didn't involve the Insurrection Clause, but there is a precedent there, including Nixon's claim that if a President does it, then it's legal, whatever "it" is. Of course, in this case, "it" also includes gross overuse of bronzer.

"So long, Jaworski!!"

Or what if the spinally gelatinous politicians in DC just don't have the stomach for it. After all, half of them think they could run for the office one day. The other half are Marjorie Taylor Greene.

But there is another example, from many years ago. It involved not the President of the United States, but another Chief Executive. This one didn't just inspire an attack on the Capitol but would have blown it up if he could. It is a man who was chief among the people that the 14th Amendment, and its insurrection clause, were designed for. Section 3...

"No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."

Of course, we're talking about Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederacy. There is a wonderful book written by Cynthia Nicoletti in 2017 called, “Secession on Trial: The Treason Prosecution of Jefferson Davis.” She points out that there were loud and widespread cries for a trial for Davis, who had been in prison for 2 years after the war, having been caught trying to escape wearing his wife's clothing.

"Admit it, bitch. I make this look good."

The Union had won the war, African-Americans were freed and given the franchise, so trying the man who led the rebellion that cost 700,000 lives seemed a logical next step. But Davis and his virulently racist attorney had a novel idea for a defense.

They were to contend that when the South seceded, he gave up his US citizenship for a Confederate one, and therefore he couldn't commit treason to a country of which he isn't a citizen. And that got the prosecutors, among whom were some of the most prominent members of the government, in a dither.

Precedent held that the trial be conducted in Richmond, Virginia, where the treason began. But hey, forget it Jake, it's Richmond.

They even questioned Robert E. Lee about whether a jury in Richmond could reach an honest decision.

Question: Suppose the jury should be clearly and plainly instructed by the court that such an act of war upon the United States, on the part of Mr. Davis, or any other leading man, constituted in itself the crime of treason under the Constitution of the United States; would the jury be likely to heed that instruction, and if the facts were plainly in proof before them, convict the offender?

Answer: I do not know, sir, what they would do on that question.

Question: They do not generally suppose that it was treason against the United States, do they?

Answer: I do not think that they so consider it.

So would a Richmond jury convict Davis? Isn't an acquittal more likely and would that validate the right of secession? Some of these potential prosecutors would go on to run for President, though none of them won. So, it was decided that for some, the restrictions on former Confederates holding office was punishment enough. Some former officials in the rebel government had already been sent back to Congress by then.

So, if there was to be a trial, the answer was black jurors. They picked a jury pool that was surprisingly diverse.

File:Jefferson Davis jury (cropped).jpg

But even then, they waffled and this group of men never got to sit in judgment, hear evidence, and render history's verdict. That's because in 1868 on Christmas Day, President Andrew Johnson, who made Trump seem like Madison, pardoned “every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion,” and, not long after that, the prosecution entered a nolle prosequi. In other words, it was over.

Jefferson Davis, other than the time in a military prison after the war, never was tried for his part in unleashing the bloodiest war in our history. And as Reconstruction slipped away and Jim Crow reasserted itself, my part of the country moved backward, not forward for too many years. At least the White V Texas Supreme Court decision in 1868, settled the question of secession, no matter what those simpletons in the so-called "Texit" movement think.

So the possible ramifications of the Trump cases, whichever way they go, will reverberate for good or ill. Like the situation after the Civil War and the lack of collective cojones in Washington, true justice wasn't done. And even if it had been, what would have been the reaction down south? Reconstruction might have been an even longer and more violent process than it already was.

So, consider this. If this country couldn't find the moxie to try a man who led a full-fledged rebellion, what about a guy who inspired a riot at the Capitol? Oh, and spare me the fig leaf of claiming he never explicitly told them to do it. It's what he wanted one way or the other, and he got it. Face it, the cult has such a grip on so many in the public, not to mention politicos like the human weather vane, Lindsey Graham, a conviction would mean nothing. His every indictment and every infantile outburst is met with approval and a tidal wave of rationale. A conviction would amount to beatification for the dunderhead caucus out there.

Even if Jack Smith or Fani Willis manage to find a little justice, it will only help him get elected. And if that happens, he has to suffer the shameful indignity of pardoning himself. Hold it. I apparently used a couple of words that aren't in the Trump lexicon.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.