By: Dennis Rohatyn
If they remember it at all, future generations of jurists and legal historians will view the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump as a missed opportunity. Given a second chance to redeem the nation, we opted instead to permit the second going of a false Messiah. No need to look for “the enemy within,” a Fifth Column, or a conspiracy of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. The Deep State is real, albeit in the shallow persona of Donald Trump.
Yet on January 6, his ugly demagoguery backfired. He didn’t control the mob; the mob controlled him, as they spiraled out of control: which (by definition) is what such mobs will do, once sufficiently aroused.
If I were Trump’s defense attorney, that is how I would defend him, not from the impeachment managers in the Senate, but from himself, both now and in the future. If God is in the details, the details often disprove God’s existence. No wonder Donald Trump thinks he can get away with anything. Regardless of the outcome of the second impeachment trial, he already has.
Yet there is still a chance to do what must be done. The grounds for conviction should be self-evident. Trump constitutes a “clear and present danger” to our national security—and as “inciter-in-chief,” he will continue to pour gasoline on the flames, unless he is silenced by the laws of nature, that even he cannot bend or twist to suit his malign purposes. Regeneron is not in his future. The Reaper is. “Trumpism” may transcend Trump. But it won’t outlast him. He will not die in vain; vanity (hybris) will insure that no one else may succeed him, let alone, succeed where he failed.
That is our (not his) saving disagrace.
His movement will revive if and only if another demagogue appears, a pied piper of hate with a beguiling slickness that belies sinister motives.
That may well happen—but Trump won’t be in on the deal, let alone, able to take credit for it. His 15 minutes are up. Our national anxiety has just begun—and the clock is ticking away.
Scott Fitzgerald lied. There are nothing but second acts in American lives. Mrs. Lincoln’s theatrical mistake was sitting through Act III.
 “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.” Thus spoke Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to Albert G. Hodges [April 4, 1864; Collected Works, ed. Roy P. Basler (New Brunswick, NJ, 1953), VII. 281-82}, with respect to Emancipation and its consequences for the then-War of the Rebellion. In the same epistle, Lincoln wrote “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Faint echoes of that lapidary statement have resounded at both impeachment trials. David Herbert Donald reads these texts as expressions of fatalism [Lincoln (New York, 1995), 9, 15, 514]. I view them as clairvoyant. When melancholy pops between election and hope, the over-ripeness is all.
 The term coined by Justice Holmes, in Schenk vs. U.S., 249 US 47 (1919).
 Rep. Jaime Raskin, speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Feb. 10, 2021.
 “Trump . . . understands the allure of the idea that the correct answers aren’t that hard to come by. You’ve just got to sell them” [Chris Stirewalt, Every Man A King (New York, 2018), 188]. That, plus all the poor souls who eagerly buy the whole idea, thus selling themselves short for life. There’s a Dr. Faust born every minute—and a real estate salesman dying for a crack at him, at Trump Tower.
A native New Yorker, Dennis Rohatyn took his PhD at Fordham. He moved to the West Coast in 1977. His works include “Out of My Mind,” “The Flight of Theory”, and “Cartesian Requiem.” He writes about everything, but his true vocation is the inhuman condition.
Image: PAM illustration