With markers of Trumpian corruption amassing like a superbug strain in a petri dish, the Republican motorcade arrives at a fork in history's road.
Ethical government? It's thataway. Extending Trump's reign? The other way.
Honesty? Legality? Basic decency? They went thataway.
Funny. I remember when the Republicans were all about ethics – way back in the mists of 2016.
(Then: nonstop chirping of innuendo about the Clinton Foundation. Now: a $2 million fine for the closed-by-court-order Trump Foundation and a cricket chorus.)
Now that ethics officially are out the window. Republicans want us to salute a strongman who does what he wants to get what he wants. Call him the Article II Kid. Or to quote Rudy Giuliani, just "Shut up."
Regarding the extorting of Ukraine, the case for impeachment has grown from a pea under Trump's mattress to a papaya, or a whole lumpy bag of them.
"No ambiguity," said witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, about the political dirt Trump desired and the taxpayer funds dangled before Ukraine's eyes.
It didn't sound ambiguous when Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that's what happened, except for a everybody-does-it explanation, then a retraction, then a . . .
(By the way, if no use of our tax dollars to manufacture dirt about the son of a political rival -- Explanation No. 1 -- why an attempt to rope the son of the political rival into impeachment proceedings?)
Yes, since those early days (OK, three weeks ago) when the president and his defenders were saying, "No quid pro quo," we've seen the defense of Trump – or whatever you call it – whip and spew like a Water Weasel.
Trump's defenders on Capitol Hill really need to align their scripts. There's Mike Pence saying sure he pressured Ukraine but, um, in the interest of curbing its corruption. That Trump -- always thinking of the Big Picture.
Then there's the "hoax" defense of Devin Nunes. What's the hoax, Congressman? That we've read the transcript of the phone call in question and tend to believe our lyin' eyes?
There's this-administration's-too-inept defense courtesy of Lindsey Graham, specifically, "They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo."
(Sort of like that image of a 12-year-old pushing buttons in the air-traffic controller tower: dangerous, but somehow precious.)
There's the "it's not impeachable" defense. "It" may not be if bribery is legal where you live.
There's the "look, a baby deer" defense – anything to distract.
Consider the Fox-ified effort to tarnish anyone who steps forward to testify about what this president is doing with our tax dollars.
We see the wholly evil (meaning you, Donald Jr.) bid to identify the whistleblower whose report started this.
How absurd. And did I say evil? Considering what we know now, the tide of credible corroboration, that person's identity is as relevant as a certificate from Trump University, not to mention wholly dangerous when you start guessing who it is and release that guessed-at name.
Face it, folks. He did what we know he did. It wasn't principled, Mr. Vice President. It was criminal. It wasn't "perfect," Mr. President. It was removable.
"Read the transcript" is the new cry from Trump and his supporters. Um, we did that. Or did you think we were too busy or indifferent to read and would accept your excuses?
So it goes. And so his supporters will parrot his phony claims of innocence and being pursued by enemies of democracy.
One of the forked defenses is, "The radical liberals have been trying to get him out since his first day in office."
I'll not challenge that assertion.
With his likely illegal business practices, his campaign's benefiting from a hostile foreign power, his obstruction of the probe of that, his hush money and "catch and kill" exploits, his refusal to cut business ties that compromise the presidency -- that's easily, justifiably two years and 11 months of stuff to investigate.
The investigating should have begun many months earlier.