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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 2/8/21

Good morning, TOM BRADY Last night’s Super Bowl was the meeting of two teams who were strong on both sides of the ball all year but it was pretty much all Tom Brady and the Buccaneers last night. The hype for this game was the battle of the generations, with Tom Brady, the 43 year-old Methuselah of football, versus Patrick Mahomes, whose Kansas City Chiefs were trying for their second straight championship. So much for a repeat… Two final age-related curiosities from this game:

  • Mahomes’s mother is only one year older than Brady.

  • The Tampa Bay coach, at 68, is the oldest Super Bowl coach ever. His 95 year-old mother apparently was at the game.

Brady is far from the oldest man to play the game. George Blanda played when he was 48. Careers last longer in baseball, but no one can hold a candle to the great Satchell Paige, who played his final game of major league baseball four days shy of his 60th birthday. I’m of a mixed opinion regarding Tom Brady. On the one hand, he’s a great quarterback, arguably the best of all time. On the other hand, he’s a lifelong New England Patriot, which means he, like all Boston sports fans and stars (with the exception of Big Papi) is a devil worshiper. On the one hand, he is a poster boy for beating the onset of old-age. On the other hand, he was caught cheating by underinflating footballs. Tough call… IMPEACHMENT FOR INCITING REBELLION This week we embark with the impeachment trial of the former president for inciting violence, before a “jury” comprised largely of invertebrates, a majority of whom already have declared they will not act to convict. It turns out Mr. Trump is not the first to be accused of such behavior. John Tyer beat him to this auspicious distinction. A group of Whig House members introduced an impeachment proposal against Tyler, who “lied like a dog” for “the high crime and misdemeanor of endeavoring to excite a disorganizing and revolutionary spirit in the country.” No impeachment came of this. Tyler was the first vice president to ascend to the presidency upon the death of the president. He was an ignominious slave-owner who was included on the “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” ticket solely to placate the South and defeat the Democrats after a long period of Democratic rule. The Whigs couldn’t have predicted his ascendancy upon the death of William Henry Harrison, his about-face from their policies and his embrace of the South. I KNOW IT’S WARRANTED BUT IS IT WISE? It is clear that former president Trump’s actions on December 6 constitute an impeachable offense. And I believe the House should have impeached him. But they should have stopped there. Why not impeach, in effect filing the indictment and requiring the House Republicans to go on record regarding the impeachment, and then simply file away the impeachment in the top drawer, never to be delivered to the Senate? What is gained by a Senate trial, one that is preordained and will detract from President Biden’s agenda in this critical period in our history? The important thing was to go on record that the president had overstepped the norms of presidential behavior and had, indeed, committed impeachable offenses, as determined by a majority of the House (and bipartisan, at that). History will mark this line in the sand and those who voted not to impeach (which, after all, is a lower bar than removal or conviction) will have to defend that record, both at the polls and to history. Sending the impeachment to the Senate not only gums-up the Senate agenda, but it guarantees no conviction, whether on tortured arguments that impeachment in this instance is unconstitutional, or that the president’s intent of saying “go march on the Congress and be strong” was something less than that, or only metaphor. And when the invertebrates in the Senate vote not to convict, the Democrats in the House, by delivering the impeachment to the Senate, have guaranteed that Mr. Trump will again be able to declare that he’s been “exonerated” (which, of course is not what a failure to convict means). I believe this political process has been converted into a public relations contest that will add fuel to the flawed narrative that this is all a witch hunt against Mr. Trump. I continue to hope that the Senate can figure out a way to move past the trial and perhaps elect censure, prohibition from holding public office, or something lesser that can accomplish the objective of public approbation and allow those Republicans who want to make a stand a vehicle by which they can act. I’m not hopeful. And I believe the tactics of the Democrats may ultimately be proven to have backfired on them. There is a similar argument with respect to the truly odious Congresswoman Greene. She is a racist, an anti-Semite, a conspiracy theorist, an inciter of violence—all of this and more. And she is unapologetic for her nuttiness. But to call her simply a nut ignores the real danger people like her represent. Would it have been better to leave her on a committee and deny her the martyrdom and visibility that she so clearly craves? Would not a better outcome have been a censure of Minority Leader McCarthy for not doing his job of self-policing the caucus to ensure compliance with the norms of the House? Again, there were various directions the Democrats could have gone, of stripping her of committee assignments and turning her into an instant martyr and darling of the right. Just because one can do something doesn’t mean one should do something… GEORGE SCHULTZ, 100 YEARS OLD, RIP It’s hard to find a more illustrious career than that of George Schultz. Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Labor, Director of the Office of Management & Budget, and a successful career in industry. I attended a speech Schultz gave at the Jonathan Club a number of years ago. I went to the bar to get a drink and an older woman started chatting with me. She was very funny and, while nursing her drink commented, “oh god, now we have to listen to this guy speak.” I indicated that I was interested in hearing him. “Have you heard him before?” “Yes,” she answered, “he’s my husband.” After the talk, she introduced us. I’m smiling remembering this encounter. EXPERIENCING HISTORY IN EARLY FILM I love historic films of days gone by. It is a bit like being in a time machine to see people wandering about, living their daily lives in a bygone era. It’s even more interesting to see earlier times as they look back on an even earlier time. One such example is a brief film clip of the Grand Army of the Republic parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1915—the 50th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. To those in 1915, they were witnessing the participants from a conflict generations earlier. In it you can see President Wilson tip his hat as they march by the reviewing stand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkrIfMH8Eog In an even more stunning “looking back on history,” here is footage from the 75th reunion of the veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg, filmed in 1938 by one of the “earlier adopters” of home movies. In this short film are some great still photos from the battlefield as well. It is almost eerie to see these 90+ year old veterans at the last formal gathering of Civil War veterans at the famous battlefield: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTcR5TnMnlk Finally, this is a crazy film worth watching. It is the clip of the last surviving witness to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on “I’ve Got a Secret”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RPoymt3Jx4&feature=emb_rel_end. Note the blatant advertising of Winston cigarettes on the set of the show. ERRATA Doug Emhoff’s son is named Cole. All good wishes, Glenn

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