ADAMCZYK: Soap opera for government geeks, sponsored by the First Amendment

Ed Adamczyk

There are times I feel this country is a large, technologically advanced banana republic. Only Americans have walked on the moon. Americans have led the world in providing essential vaccines, humanitarian aid after disasters, bringing war to the deserving and peace to the desperate, not to mention 3-D movies involving Yogi Bear.

Still, we’ve lived so well, so long, and I wonder what’s gone wrong, to paraphrase a Paul Simon song. Money from business groups controls the Congress – both sides — and votes by members of Congress are largely involved in the members’ need to get re-elected and not the common good. When a bill is enacted, someone gets rich, or richer. It is a bought government with a leader more enthralled with the world’s despots than the needs of his country’s citizens.

Which is not to blame the current president entirely. He is the product of a system which could have investigated The Trump Organization long before 2016 but either chose not to or declined to because of insufficient resources. Had that occurred we may have not had the president burnish his credentials in Hollywood as a reality show host, and he would have remained a regional comic character, a New York blowhard billionaire straight outta Central Casting.

Watching him on television, I find that revulsion comes easily, and I haven’t felt that way since Nixon was on the job. Same with his sycophants in Congress. Fox News? I’m good for about six minutes before I start yelling at the television as though a Sabres game was on. You might experience the same effect with other political leaders, and you will find me respectful of your position. Disagreeing but respectful.

There have been 12 presidents in my lifetime so the current disorder is familiar to me. I have been through the Kennedy shooting; through Johnson, unable to extract the country from Vietnam while I dealt with my Selective Service letter; the Nixon white-collar crime spree and its multiplicity of lies and excuses; Clinton’s impeachment.

A lot of waiting is usually involved.

Occasionally some legislator gets accused of something, resigns with his patient wife by his side and life goes on for all involved. Then there are these slow-motion crises, with a new revelation every day, some report of major- or minor-league corruption, and they build into a damning, damaging resume of high or low crimes and alleged misdemeanors that make us punch up the 25th Amendment – the removal-of-the-president one — or Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 – dealing with impeachment – on our cellphones.

Ah, all that resigning. The promise of draining the swamp – a lot of promises were made by the alleged only person who could do the job – apparently is being kept, with administration officials resigning before their paper chase gets too incriminatory.

Yes, if you’re a Trump enthusiast, these matters are less of a big deal compared to the bigger deals under development that will secure the economy, democracy and pursuit of happiness. Still, there is a feeling that we’ve been here before. Regularly, actually.

It’s a semi-banana republic, now. We still have freedom of the press, a galvanizing force on both sides, unless the First Amendment is repealed or Fox News authentically declares itself a propaganda tool and not a news service, and neither is likely. There remains, though, an uneasy feeling that the world is blowing past the United States – in finance, defense, science, you name the category – while we either await or ignore the next drip drip drip in the demise of the current executive branch of government.

Of course we could wait until 2020, when voters will decide if 2016 was a mistake or a blessing, but it would not end the chasing down of the various destructive, self-dealing and unconstitutional aspects of this administration. That’s when the serious lawsuits could start.

This has become not an American tragedy – there have been plenty of those and we have survived — but an American soap opera, and only the free press is presenting it, whether one keeps up with it or not. Personally, I am not walking away from these scandals de jour. I am glad our rights include choosing a president. We chose one, and if I am not happy about the outcome, I am reminded that my rights include watching the proceedings. Citizens of any number of countries would welcome the latitude to choose C-SPAN or CNN over any other afternoon televised drama.

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