We live in a world where context and perspective seem to be missing. In sports, we hear that a particular player is the GOAT (greatest of all time). Dismal futurists predict the end of the world as we know it. People have been losing perspective for some time, so it’s not surprising that it surfaced in many of the impeachment hearings.
Representative Ken Buck tried to put some of the testimony in perspective when he asked law professor Jonathan Turley to apply the proposed impeachment standard to other presidents. For example, would it apply to when Lyndon Johnson directed the CIA to spy on his presidential opponent? Would it apply when Franklin Roosevelt directed the IRS to conduct audits on his political enemies? How about when President Kennedy directed his brother (the Attorney General) Robert Kennedy to deport one of his mistresses as an East German spy?
How about the statement by law professor Michael Gerhardt that President Trump’s conduct was “worse than the misconduct of any prior president.” No, it wasn’t, as David Harsanyi details in his recent column. In addition to the examples already mentioned, he adds that two presidents (John Adams and Abraham Lincoln) suspended habeas corpus. Andrew Jackson ignored courts and laws and used his power to ethnically cleanse lands that he had a financial interest in. Roosevelt signed an executive order that interned 120,000 Japanese Americans.
The list of presidential misconduct is long, and citing it isn’t meant to justify anything this president or recent presidents might have done. But what is lacking is any perspective. The broad, sweeping statements are made without any context. Sadly, they can often get away with it because so many Americans don’t know their history.