The Second Judgment

Author: Gary Hart

Events of consequence face two judgments.  The first is immediate.  The second comes later.

For instance, it seems commonly assumed by insiders that the United States Senate will fail to muster the two-thirds vote, including all Democrats and seventeen Republicans, to convict Donald Trump of incitement to insurrection against the government of the United States.

Predictably, press coverage will produce colorful phrases like “dodged a bullet” and “emerged unscathed” from his second impeachment trial, suggesting a Trump victory.  This is politics as it is often treated in sports terms.

The second judgment, however, takes time, context, and reflection.  This is the judgment of history.  The first president to be impeached twice will not go down in the history books as a clever manipulator who sought to overthrow his own government and got away with it.

No, the cold eye of history will judge Donald Trump as a presidential disaster whose only trick was to present himself to a legion of the dispossessed in mind if not in body.  To move to the front of this legion of the resentful, frustrated, and marginalized requires only demagoguery.  This man comes by that naturally.

He got away with it until he sought to summon that legion to overturn a democratic national election that was not fraudulent, despite his twisted assumption that the only way he could lose is if it were so.  Having failed in bullying various State election officials, many of his own party, and having failed in more than 60 attempts to have the judiciary, composed somewhat of judges he appointed, his final recourse could only be to assault the Congress of the United States fulfilling its Constitutional duty.

The House impeachment managers presented stunning evidence of two things: his months’ long preparation of the assault through repeated false claims and rhetoric; and videos of the rampaging mob, acting on his instructions, desecrating what most Americans, particularly those of us who had the honor to serve there, consider the secular cathedral of democracy.

Calling oneself a patriot, waving a flag and shouting vulgarity, does not make it so.  The patriots were the uniformed guards who fought to protect the edifice and those who served in it and the few who gave their lives to the mob of vandals.

Confusing events rarely lead to a unified historical judgment.  The only confusion of the attempted destruction of the Capitol and possible murder of the Vice President and Speaker of the House was who brought it about, who was responsible.  That would be the President of the United States.

On this question, the cold eye of history will face little confusion.  Despite his promise to lead the legion in its assault on the Capitol and its attempt to prevent the Congress from performing its Constitutional duty, Trump knew there would be bloodshed and he doesn’t like the sight of blood, particularly when it might be his.

History’s judgment will not take long.  It will hold accountable the man who organized an attack on the government of the United States and its Constitution.

I hope I live long enough to see it.




7 Responses to “The Second Judgment”

  1. Michael Says:

    The Republican Party under Trump is filled with fear and dread and rank opportunism; the American equivalent of the Soviet Communist Party during the Great Terror – officials wish the leader gone but are too frightened to move against him, while others will do anything to curry favor in hopes of feathering their own nests. I am not as concerned with how history will judge it all as with what all says about us as a nation; that such a political party came within a few percentage points in a few key areas of winning not only the Electoral College, but both Houses of congress – and may well take that latter in two years.

  2. H. Patrick Pritchard Says:


    Donald J Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States of America. Please note I said is. Although no longer President Trump still has his Army of militant followers ready and willing to undertake future mayhem. Sixty-six per cent of registered Republicans believe the election was stolen from him and a majority of House members and Senators support his acquittal in his second impeachment trial despite overwhelming factual evidence to the contrary.

    As I sat and listened to the evidence provided by the House members describing Trump’s actions to prime and call his assembled supporters to action, it reminded me of historical events both past and recent involving two similar political leaders – Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin. Both used similar tactics in their ascent to power by promoting nationalism and creating fabricated crisis to achieve their goals. What binds these characters together is their narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies. Hitler and Putin turned weakened democratic governments into complete autocracies. Trump was in the process of following in their footsteps. Hitler had his brown shirts and Trump has his Proud Boys, among others. His political base strikes fear into the hearts of any incumbent Republican facing reelection. I’m sure his Army intimidates them as well.

    It is my belief the premeditated attack on the Capital was a demonstration to those Republicans who opposed his big lie of their vulnerability. As with Hitler and Putin Trump’s weapon of choice in control is fear, fear of losing an election or having your life threatened. Two unspoken reasons to vote for acquittal.

    As former Republican Senator William Cohen reminded us today thousands of American troops who swore the same oath to defend democracy swarmed the beaches of Normandy and climbed the cliff under Nazi fire to protect our country against bullies like Hitler. These were ordinary men and women not Senators who put their lives at risk. If you can’t objectively look at the facts laid out before you and convict Donald Trump, you don’t deserve to be called Honorable Senator! Senator Cohen’s words!

    Trump’s actions were premediated. He knew before the election began his chances for re-election were not good. He planted the seed with his supporters beforehand that if he lost the election was rigged. He continually preached that theme throughout the election. Thus began the BIG LIE! He painted the mail in ballot system as fraudulent from the beginning because he knew many Democrats would use the mail in ballot because of the pandemic. He tried to cripple the operations of the US Mail Service to disrupt the mail in ballot process. He implored Republican legislators in swing states to not count mail in ballots until election day and told Republican voters not to use mail in ballots and vote on election day to create the illusion of his imminent victory. His plea to STOP THE COUNT was to prevent legitimate mail in ballots from being counted. He then told his supporters that these ballots were being illegally dumped into the count.

    When all these tactics failed, he filed lawsuits in the swing state courts and the Supreme Court, demanded recounts, and tried to intimidate State Election officials and Governors to illegally change the results or not certify the results. When all these misguided efforts failed, he ordered his Vice President to derail the Electoral College process and decertify the electoral college vote, something the Vice President had no constitutional authority to do.

    Trump’s only recourse was to summon his most volatile supporters and implore them to undertake a fight against those in the Capital who stole the election from him, and they did! As a result five people died and 140 Capitol police were seriously injured.
    But for the courageous efforts of Capitol police it could have been worse. The Vice President could have been hung, Nancy Pelosi shot dead, and others killed. The Capitol Police demonstrated courage some Senators lack. Is this America? It is not the America I know!


    Fine piece from a fighter for good judgement, a fighter who wages peace!

    The case in the senate is important, less though surely, than in the society.

    Trump is finished politically in that he shall never be remembered for his achievements, as much as for his failings and awfulness, by any who can see things clearly!

    The trial, in the court of opinion is importantly, going to depend on the efforts of the courtiers of the new President, to let folk, see what real presidential achievement is!

  4. Edward J Goldstick Says:

    With great respect, Gary, I disagree. There is a second set of judgments still possible as expressed in what follows taken from a longer email just sent to a friend…

    … and their collective Final Jeopardy will be that of History, but it is still too soon for the full story to be written (or at least that is my hope…)

    Thank you.

    Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) tweeted at 5:39 PM on Sat, Feb 13, 2021:
    Trump has privately voiced concern about whether he could face charges related to the riot, multiple people say. While explaining his vote, McConnell said Trump was “practically & morally responsible” and that the legal process could address his role. Cheney has said similar.

    After working midnight to noon, I went to sleep thinking there might be witnesses after all.

    I awoke to the news and will suggest the mantra should begin with this:

    Double Jeopardy does NOT apply!

    … because even if found guilty in the Senate, there was no punishment.

    How about a Federal RICO indictment for incitement?

    … against ALL “Accessories Before the Fact”.

    How about a class action by Capitol Police for damages?

    … led by the families of Officer Sicknick and those who were driven to suicide plus all those suffering bodily injury and mental trauma.

  5. Brian C McCarthy Says:

    Senator, I hope you are correct and I think that, long term, the judgement of history will be severe. In the short term, I continue to worry that populism, nationalism, isolationism, nativism, and authoritarianism continue to infect the GOP. I don’t think the Democratic Party is necessarily immune from populism and demagoguery either and the more it is tolerated on the right, the more likely a demagogue of the left will arise to copy the formula. Between the Trump attacks on the legitimacy of the election, the physical attack on the Capitol, and other world events such as the near assassination and subsequent jailing of Alexei Navalny, absorption of Hong Kong into the PRC’s authoritarian political culture, and the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma/Myanmar, it has not been a banner past year for democracy.

  6. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    The cold eye of history may also analyze what set the stage for Trump(ism). Which won’t look good on Democrats or Republicans. And, by then, it may be too late to do anything about.

    It is up to Democrats now to lead a better way forward. They have to have a message that all working Americans can get behind because they can see that their lives will get better if that vision is carried out. Democrats have to stick to that message and use the media wisely to get that message out.

    Most importantly, Democrats have to gain and sustain the trust of voters.

    The only question to be answered is can Democrats, as a party, do that?

  7. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    As I tweeted today in response to Rep. Jaime Raskin, whose father Marcus was an aide to President Kennedy before founding the venerable Institute for Policy Studies:
    On this occasion (to invert the expression of your father’s old boss #JFK): the House of Reps’ (nominal) “defeat has a thousand fathers” (some pictured) and the former president’s (nominal) “victory is an orphan.” Witness eg. McConnell’s scathing anti-Trump post-acquittal speech.

Leave a Reply

All comments are reviewed by a moderator prior to approval and are subject to the UCD blog use policy.