We Have Seen What Draining the Swamp Looks Like

I am not overly concerned whether the President is going to be impeached or not.  I am concerned about the wellbeing of the nation hijacked by the President’s loyalists who, without blinking an eye, call evil good and good evil. This is exactly what have we witnessed  throughout the entire season of the  impeachment hearings so far.

For anyone who wanted to listen, however, the testimonies of twelve witnesses were clear, coherent and truthful. The facts complemented each other. Their accounts produced a single story, consistent and convincing. Even the testimonies of a few reluctant witnesses fit the thread. No way those twelve witnesses could have come up with so a consistent conspiracy story.

Those who cared to listen heard to following: we have an egoistic president who is interested only in advancing his own interests at the expense of the nation, Constitution and international relations. Even the testimony of the most evading witness, Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union, “ripped away the last of the pretense that Trump cared about corruption in Ukraine”. We heard loud and clear that our President “cares only about the big stuff that benefits him personally“, namely, how to set a stage that would help him  maximize his victory at the next US presidential elections. In short, we heard that a person or a country matters to our president only as much as one advances his personal ambitions, agendas, and foremost his personal corruption.

This is not a new story. It is consistent with everything else we have seen about his presidency in the past three years. Alas, this is what his well-documented lifestyle of self-indulgence and corruption testified for many years before he ever became the President. In the light of his abusive treatment of women, and shady business dealings, who could believe that a corrupt president is really concerned about fighting corruption in another country? The new story we have just heard is that he has been unmasked most powerfully by a group of firsthand witnesses, associates, diplomats. They all testified that the President bullied and blackmailed a nation in a desperate need of the American aid, while treating his own country as if it were some kind of his privately owned enterprise. 

However, the most shocking thing is the blindness of his loyalists who continue to express their “innocent” outrage over, so they want us to believe, a supposed witch hunt against their messianic president. Some Christian leaders, among them Franklin Graham and Eric Metaxas unfortunately, are calling any opposition to the President “demonic”. Rick Perry, the US secretary of Energy, echoed the other day the sentiments of many Republicans and many white evangelicals when he called Donald Trump “the chosen one… sent by God to do great things”. Statements of this kind, thrown into the face of the avalanche of clear evidence to the contrary, only serve the purpose of further intensifying the stiffneckedness of the President’s loyalists, and radicalizing even more the populists’ outrage against anyone who dare question the integrity of the President’s leadership.

But the impeachment hearings are anything but “bizarre”. Certainly, they are not  “a circus”, “a hoax”, “a show trial” or “deranged”. They are certainly not based on “hearsay,” as the President’s loyalists are chanting in the absence of the substantial arguments. Nor is the opposition to Donald Trump “demonic”, for if it were what would we then call the relentless opposition throughout the eight years of Obama’s presidency coming from the same mouths, pens, TV channels and talk shows by the same sources that are now so firmly embedded with Donald Trump?

Bizarre and immoral and alike are morally deplorable defenses of the indefensible, repeated day by day by the overzealous defenders of the President. In the absence of the sustainable arguments they have fiddled throughout the entire impeachment season until now with trivialities and below-the-belt hits aimed at undermining the credibility and personal integrity of the witnesses. No wonder Socrates said: “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers”. In other words, when the arguments are absent yelling and personal attacks follow.

It is this slanderous attitude of the Trump’s loyalists that condones, justifies, normalizes evil that keeps him firmly enthroned, since the isolated president without support would soon become what he really is, a parody. It is the same partisan loyalty that is further intoxicating the crowds already excited more than enough by all kinds of wild conspiracies, that represents a real threat to the nation and the world at this hour. Calculated loyalties motivated by personal interests, whether expressed by his defenders at the impeachment hearings, or by the members of the Congress, or blindly demonstrated by the President’s loyal crowds – all of them are certainly emboldening the President to continue ruling by his selfish impulses rather than by the rule of law. It is this kind of uncritical flattering support exhibited by his populist constituency that encourages him to believe even more that he stands invincible, beyond accountability and above the law, as the undisputed king of kings. The more often the President succeeds in reassembling himself unscratched and with the applause after each new blunder, the more he grows emboldened to rule like a despot with no public or private accountability.

When Richard Nixon was about to be impeached in 1974 he resigned because some Republican leaders dared to accept the facts. They dared, although reluctantly, eventually to resist the President, even if they had to do it at a personal cost. But this time it might be different. ‘The new normal’ has already intoxicated too many of the President’s loyalists. Rep. Adam Schiff was right when he closed the second week of the hearings with a statement which defines the problem. It is not that the two presidents were different, he stated. The heart of the matter is  “the difference between the two congresses”. It is his party that is the issue, and with it the white evangelicals who are sanctifying and deifying the President’s defiance.

It seems that this Congress does not have a moral courage to accept the facts wherever they lead. Instead the President’s loyalists are even more adamant to keep on endorsing this president whatever the facts. In other words, even after they have heard 12 witnesses testifying consistently about the corruption of the President, they seem to be more than eager to continue endorsing him. Some are even boldly promising violence should not the President get his way. Rick Wiles, a far-right conspiracist reverently  warns that “if Trump is removed from office, veterans, cowboys, mountain men, and guys that know how to fight will hunt down Democrats and kill them.” Wow!

St. Paul writes about people who do not only do evil but also “approve of those who practice” it (Romans 1:32.), making thus the endorsement of evil just as evil as the act itself. Why? Because a widespread endorsement of evil legitimizes wickedness, makes “the new normal” widely acceptable, declares evil good and good evil, and all together it builds speedily towards morally deprived culture; a kind of culture described in the Biblical depiction of the pre-flood generation: “Every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5. NIV 

And this is exactly where we are heading with the President’s loyalists who brazenly keep on defending  the indefensible. Also, this is what we have been getting for the past three years as we watched the Republican Party turning into his condoning private ideological army. Likewise, this is what we are getting when we listen to the faith leaders who are messianizing Trump’s presidency instead of preaching the Gospel of Christ. And this is what we are getting when his mesmerized crowds are chanting, “Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!” 

But a refreshing news is that one week ago we saw what the real swamp draining looks like, as we watched one witness after another, willingly or not, declare and demonstrate that “the emperor had no clothes”, the highlight of which was the moment when Fiona Hill, a former top White House official and the most dignifying witness who would not let herself be intimidated said:  “‘I think this is all going to blow up’. And here we are!”

And here we are wondering what’s coming next? Are we going to witness more defiance and denial coming from the mouths and pens of the President’s loyalists despite the obvious? Will we eventually have to be satisfied seeing only more collateral, secondary players go because “the big stuff” will remain unreachable, as it was the case with the outcome of by now almost ignored Mueller Report? Or, will the only outcome be the relentless harassment of the witnesses? Or, shall we finally see more eyes open, sufficiently more for this nation to move out of the swamp of lies, hypocrisy and corrupt leadership? 

If, however, after the hearings are over the nation continues to be so dangerously divided, this is not going to be because the testimonies of witnesses were ambiguous or lacking in substance, but because some people (too many actually) have deliberately made up their minds to follow a lie wherever it leads.

PS: There is one significant difference between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, however. Nixon had a decency to resign. This one wouldn’t mind brining the whole nation down together with him.

PS: The bottom line is this: It is not the president who concerns me as much as the army of Christians who endorse evil he represents, for they are the ones who are making his presidency possible and sustainable. 


Sunday, December 1, 2019: A friend of mine responded: “Yes, I could easily go along with what you say. The problem is, we are deep into “post-truth” time and hence your arguments carry so much less weight. Not, of course, because they are deficient in any way but because your potential audience – perhaps unlike at any other time in history – just couldn’t care less. Large chunks of them, anyway. And to illustrate my point and highlight the mirror situation in the UK (only c.10 days away from general election) I call on this rather interesting US vs. UK comparison of political landscapes by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian this last Friday. In both of these entities, “facts” appear to be the least of anybody’s worries. The two main, would-be winners – Mr T and Mr J – they are all about entertainment first and foremost. Crude, rude and, yes, at everybody’s but their own expense. And the masses? They are falling for that, head over heels… Why worry about facts and morals when you can have what passes in their circles as a good laugh? The easy way out. Will worry about the consequences later. Or, better still, let the next generation do that… Reminds me of the last days of Rome. “Bread and circuses” (or bread and games; from Latin: panem et circenses). Hope I am wrong. Or maybe not… will see. Will see. Anyway, this is the article…..

Friday, December 20, 2019: Breaking: Christianity Today, a leading Christian magazine in the US, founded by Billy Graham, calls in no unclear terms for the removal of Donald Trump: “Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president. Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments. To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?” I rest my case. This is exactly what I’ve been saying since 2016, and have been reproached for a number of times. My concern is that this is coming only a bit too late. The link….

About Tihomir Kukolja

Tihomir Kukolja, born in Pozega, Croatia. Studied, lived and worked in Yugoslavia, Croatia, United Kingdom, Australia and the US. Educated in theology, communications, and radio journalism. Worked as a church pastor, media professional, radio producer and presenter, journalist, religious liberty activist, and reconciliation and leadership development activist. Lives in Houston TX, USA. Until recently served as the Executive Director, Forum for Leadership and Reconciliation (Forum), and Director of Renewing Our Minds (ROM) initiative. Loves photography, blogging and social media.
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