Go outside, wet your index finger and hold it up. Now you understand why an important commandment in the Torah failed to impact the Senate trial of Donald Trump.

Trump “won” 43-57. Of course, conviction requires a two-thirds majority. Seven Republicans voted their conscience. Forty-three cast votes based on which way they saw the political wind blowing.

Leviticus 19:15 instructs: “You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly.” All judgments require the same standard. Neither claims to victimhood, touching our sympathies, nor privilege, dangling favors, should pervert justice. 

We understand that Trump’s trial was inherently political. Senate rules are not those of criminal courts. Yet justice demands a devotion to truth.

Except under the Statue of Freedom crowning the Capitol. 

Political fortunes, not evidence, sway votes and all other decisions in the House and Senate. Since November’s election, most Congressional Republicans demonstrated little regard for the ethics detailed in Leviticus, which also is part of the Christian Bible. Career trumps Constitution and country. 

Only a week ago did former UN ambassador Nikki Haley distance herself from Trump. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him.” Until then, she supported him, lie after lie.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell offered Republicans who voted for acquittal a fig leaf to maintain their constituents’ support. Trying Trump after he left office was unconstitutional—although McConnell, in a deal with Democrats, delayed the trial until Joe Biden was inaugurated. Then McConnell threw Trump under the bus in an attempt to distance the Republican Party from the former president. “There’s no question—none—that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

Still, Trumpists devote themselves to the “black is white and white is black” self-deception portrayed in George Orwell’s classic novel 1984. They bend words like “patriotism” and “duty” to their own uses.

Why do Republican politicians buy in? Re-election stands paramount. “I came to Congress to do good. I can’t do good unless I continue to serve. I can’t be re-elected unless I appeal to Trumpists. I must violate my principles to assure my future in Congress and defend the Constitution on which I turn my back.”

Republicans who privately denounce the former president continue to seek his favor because party leadership comes down to one man.

Ask Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga), infamous for conspiracy theories, including a Jewish laser burning down huge swaths of California’s forests and the 2020 presidential election being stolen. On February 5, Taylor Greene said of Trump: “The party is his. It doesn’t belong to anybody else.”

Do I hear echoes of Mussolini’s fascists? Hitler’s Nazis? Stalin’s Communist Party? Mao’s Cultural Revolution? Putin’s Russia? Xi Jinping’s China? The Dear Leader’s North Korea? 

Congress stripped Taylor Greene of her committee posts. Her “apology” was lame. A personal note to Rep. Taylor Greene: Here’s clear proof that Jews don’t possess space lasers. Your house in Georgia is still standing. So are you.

A bi-partisan 9/11-like committee likely will investigate the January 6 insurrection and Trump’s role in it. We’ll see what conclusions they reach. As to Republicans who voted to acquit, history will judge. Bearing Leviticus in mind, its verdict will be harsh.

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  1. Carolyn Power Perlstein on February 19, 2021 at 11:17 am

    I wish it weren’t so, but nothing shocks me anymore. However, I still find everything horrifying beyond words.

    • David Perlstein on February 19, 2021 at 12:31 pm

      Horrifying, indeed, Carolyn. Meaning: All too human.

  2. Jim Shay on February 19, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    He should go to jail. No doubt. Awful.
    But, some of the 43 who acquitted him may have been voting their conscience. And some who voted to convict may have been thinking expeditiously. You don’t know. Someone voting for what you believe in is not necessarily voting their conscience. And, of course among the 43 who voted against your wishes, there may be those voting their sincere, thoughtful beliefs.

    • David Perlstein on February 19, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      Jim: I concede that some Republicans may have voted a sincere belief, even if I have trouble digesting that. I will say without equivocation that Democrats in Congress also make keeping their seats priority number one, although Democrats tend to be more fractious than Republicans when it comes to issues and the party line.

      Politics constitutes a human activity and so is inherently imperfect. That said, I’d love to see more integrity on both sides of the aisle.

  3. Claudia Long on February 19, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    “Your house is still standing.” Great line, in a very true post.

    • David Perlstein on February 19, 2021 at 5:08 pm

      Honestly, Claudia, if Jews have such weapons, and we really do control the world, where did I miss out? Why didn’t my parents tell me? I’d have worked my way to the inside, and my books would all be best-sellers—and made into movies. (My novel to be released in 2022 would make a spectacular 10-part miniseries).

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