A recent Op-Ed piece on “Montana Values” by Whitefish car dealer Don Kaltschmidt, who is also head of the Montana Republican party, left me thinking. The newspaper copy has since gone into the fire starter bag, so I’m flying by the seat of my pants. The article provided a lot of food for thought in these tumultuous times.
I wrote to Senator Steve Daines about the impeachment of Donald Trump by the House, and as a trial works its way through the Senate, asking if he will act as an “impartial juror”? His response showed he had no values, Montanan, Republican, or otherwise. He is only a trained monkey serving the party of Trump.
Briefly, in his response he chanted the worn out mantra of “no impeachable evidence” based on “the transcript” (of which no one has seen the whole thing, only a memo) and no “information surfaced to date” and the impeachment is a “sham” only based on “speculation”. Well, duh?
What choice did the Democrats have? They invited testimony but were denied with ignored subpoenas, hence the very serious obstruction charge. Of course they had to go ahead with “circumstantial evidence,” which is done quite routinely in any trial in a court of law. Contrary to Senator Daines, the fact is they made their case, quite effectively I might add.
I’ve learned a lot about the Constitution and its framers since Trump was elected (first thing I did was look up the word “Emolument” found in Article I Sec. 6). In my limited understanding, I found it fascinating how thoughtful the founding fathers were in laying out the blueprint for our nation’s governance. In my opinion, it was purposely loosely written as they had the foresight that they could not envision the future. It would be unimaginable what’s changed since 1787, (computers, automobiles, nuclear weapons, modern medicine and vaccines, the list is endless), but the document still stands. They even allowed for amendments, knowing they weren’t perfect and times would change.
These men risked their reputation, wealth, even their lives, in the name of freedom for our fledgling nation. (How could they have addressed the national crisis of water saving toilets in 2019, when public toilets weren’t even invented yet?) Most importantly though, I think they never planned on such a divided Congress and unfit president with his lackeys, who would push their mother in front of a bus for a vote. They probably assumed there would be a body of thoughtful and selfless patriots as themselves, guided by morals and the cause of the nation. Not Tweet rants, 15,000 lies (and counting), “alternative facts”, disregard of the law; leading to a total decay of leadership and the creditability in ones spoken word.
The Constitution clearly states (Article I Section 3 Clause 6) in an impeachment trial senators must swear to an “Oath” while sitting for the “Purpose” of impeachment. In 1798, in the impeachment proceedings of Senator William Blount, included in the “oath” was, “I will do impartial justice, according to law.” That seems like common sense to me, but where it gets spun to protect the “Chosen One” in 2019, who knows?
Back to “Montana Values,” our state has had a colorful history of scammers, scalawags, and outright crooks, but also some upstanding politicians have surfaced, revered for their integrity and character, that their legacy should make all Montanan’s proud.
Jeanette Rankin (a Republican), whether you agree with her or not, took the position to vote against two world wars. Though unpopular, she did what she thought was right at the time, and had the brass ones to do it.
Mike Mansfield (a Democrat) took a stance opposing the Vietnam War, which went against fellow Democrat, President Lyndon Johnson. He guided the Senate with civility and respect for both sides of the aisle, not like the two faced spineless bunch we have now, who will do anything and say anything for the Party of Trump, and their re-election, no matter how low they go.
Senator Daines responded to me with, it’s time to end this, (and I quote) “unprecedented impeachment scam.” I agree. Do your job. Bring in direct witnesses (Mulvaney, Bolton, Pompeo, Trump himself — under oath). Make public the actual phone transcript, financial records, etc. Let the investigation go where the facts lead it. Follow the law and apply “impartial justice” as it may be. Only then, when you’ve made your own decision, not what Mitch McConnell told you to do, can you look me in the eye and honestly say you did the right thing.
That would be a Montana value.
—Tom Horelick lives in Libby.