History Isn't Donald Trump's Judge
We have a legal system for that
When I switched from blogging at Patheos and WordPress to writing a Substack newsletter, one deal I made with myself is that I’d write about anything that could benefit from me “thinking in public” — but that I’d write much, much less about Donald Trump. Those posts all felt necessary between 2016 and 2021, but they often took me well outside my fields of expertise and interest… and reminded me just how little I enjoy thinking about politics, let alone doing so in public.
So it’s with no small hesitation that I return from spring break with a Trump post.
Well, actually, it’s more of a Mike Pence post.
Just over one week ago, the former vice-president and potential 2024 presidential candidate spoke at a normally lighthearted annual dinner in Washington, DC. After some initial jokes about politicians of both parties, Pence called the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol “one thing I haven’t joked about.”
Then he made his most critical remarks yet about the role his former boss and current rival played on that “tragic day”:
President Trump was wrong. I had no right to overturn the election and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.
Or as Texas Republican congressman Michael McCaul put it the next morning, “History will judge everyone by what they did that day.”
When too many in the GOP and its affiliated media continue to downplay the seriousness of January 6th, I’m glad that Pence didn’t mince words: “Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way.”
But this notion of history being Trump’s judge troubles me in two respects.
First, we don’t need history to judge Donald Trump. We have a legal system for that.
And its sanctions are far more likely to deter behavior as reckless as Trump’s than the prospect of a caustic biography hitting the bestseller list after its subject is dead and gone.
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