On Jan. 17, 1979, the state of Tennessee swore in Lamar Alexander as governor three days early in order to prevent outgoing Gov. Ray Blanton from selling pardons to state inmates. It was a moment of bipartisanship that cut short a criminal enterprise in my home state.
This week, I find myself wishing our nation could take similar action against a president whose words and actions of late may not qualify as criminal but are textbook irresponsible.
I voted for Donald Trump. Twice. Up until his election defeat two months ago, I could make a strong case Trump had been a much better president than too many in my profession, far too many of whom have allowed their liberal biases to get in the way of objective reporting over the last four years, have given him credit for.
But not anymore. Wednesday's events in Washington marked the culmination of the worst 60-day period any president has had in my lifetime. And that includes Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign in disgrace but never inspired his supporters to physically attack their own government.
Yes, as a conservative Republican, I was disappointed by Trump's loss in November, and like many in the president's camp, I have grave concerns about how some states conducted their voting, grave concerns about overnight vote dumps that took Trump from ahead by significant margins in some states to suddenly trailing. And I believe the president had every right to seek relief for those alleged improprieties in court.
But as those court challenges failed, Trump, never the model of proper presidential decorum in the first place, has appeared to go further and further off the deep end, attacking anyone and everyone, including his own vice president, who refused to go along with the fantasy that he somehow won this election.
At every turn since Nov. 3, Trump has failed the test of presidential leadership. He has hurt the country with his rhetoric, and at a time when he should have been focusing on making sure the COVID-19 vaccine got distributed in the most efficient fashion and working with the incoming Biden administration to assure a smooth transition, he has instead acted like jilted teenager determined to make everyone's life miserable because he didn't get the girl.
Meanwhile, Trump had also damaged his own party. When he should have been encouraging unity among Republicans and doing everything he could to rally the two GOP candidates to victory in Georgia's senatorial runoffs, Trump instead spent as much or more time trying to find votes for himself in the state that simply aren't there. And, his last minute, out of the blue, push for $2,000 stimulus checks handcuffed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell while handing a gift to the Democratic challengers in Georgia. As a result, Republicans will go from the majority to the minority in the Senate come Jan. 20.
Before I go any further, a quick word to my friends on the other side of the aisle. The anger on display Wednesday wasn't anything new. It was years in the making and exists on both sides of the political divide. You are just as much to blame for the great divide among Americans today as those of us on the right. Four years of "not my president," three years of presidential investigations that produced nothing except a half-ass impeachment that was purely partisan in nature and never had a chance in hell of resulting in a conviction, your hateful rhetoric on social media (where you are given free rein by Big Tech to say whatever while conservatives face constant threats of censorship), your indifference to our cities burning last summer, your calls to defund the police, and last but certainly not least, your determination to label anyone who disagrees with you on anything as a racist, have all greatly contributed to the present sad state of our union.
But none of that excuses Mr. Trump's behavior since the general election. Had he stood up and led as he should have in the wake of his defeat, Trump could have left town with his head held high, could have left town well-positioned to make another presidential run in four years.
Instead, the way he has conducted himself the last two months will stick to him the way Watergate did Nixon. Maybe time will prove me wrong, but I believe his chances of a comeback in four years are damaged beyond repair. Either way, Jan. 20 can't get here soon enough. Mr. President, you have embarrassed me, and it's time for you to go.
-- Lew Gilliland is managing editor of The Daily Home. Reach him at email@example.com.