Trump’s Impeachment and the Trial of Jesus: Comparison and Contrast

GOP Rep. Claims Trump Is Being Treated Worse Than Jesus: Yes, that Jesus

Some may be surprised to learn this:

Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk (Ga.) used his time during Wednesday’s debate on the House impeachment vote to argue that Jesus Christ received more due process when he was nailed to the cross than President Donald Trump has during the impeachment process.

“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” Loudermilk said on the House floor. “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president in this process.”

These assertions are questionable. Representative Loudermilk has, moreover, overlooked an important way in which Republican politicians resemble Pontius Pilate.

In John 18:38 we learn that Pontius Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?” and then scornfully turned and left the room.

“Quid est Veritas?” Asked Rudy Giuliani, Depicted Below, Examining Jesus While Dreaming of a Butterfly

Rudi and Jesus

Channeling Pontius Pilate, Giuliani has claimed that “truth isn’t truth,” and then clarified this puzzling assertion by explaining that “truth is relative.”

This has been the occasion of considerable merriment. Eugene Robinson trenchantly observes, “Whenever the Trump administration ends, we already have its shameful epitaph: ‘Truth isn’t truth.’”

Alexandra Petri amplifies Rudy’s thinking:

The thing you have to understand is that there is nothing to testify about. Certainly, objective reality does not exist. None of my actions have consequences because there is no world outside myself. That is why I work for the Trump administration. (Which does not, of course, exist — a fact that is a constant balm to the consciences of those who work there, assuming they can be said to work for a thing whose existence is in doubt, and assuming they possess consciences.)

You, Chuck, are, I believe, limited by the notion that we share a frame of reference. That what one of us does affects another. This is, of course, untrue. …

All I know is the line between law and crime, between truth and untruth, between reality and fantasy — there is no line. They are infinitely fungible. Everything is real, or, perhaps, more simply, nothing is real. This is a belief system that the president and I share, although he is of course not real, merely a cruel joke concocted by my mind, like a dream metaphor that feels too on-the-nose. (I often have dreams that are too pointed; flying, falling, mainly falling. I have not troubled myself to understand them.) …

I snap my fingers — the wall exists already! It is beautiful and tall. I close my eyes; my hands become enormous, large enough to engulf entire cities. I merely wish, and I am an expert upon any subject. The instant I cease to recollect the existence of Puerto Rico, it ceases to be a problem. I am the measure of all things. When I say that there are good people on all sides, it becomes so. Global warming is, of course, not real, because, again, nothing exists. …

Maybe there is no morality or law. Does the Constitution exist? Is not the existence of any kind of law or truth not the greatest lie of all?

Our actions have no consequences, and we move aimlessly in a void. How do I sleep at night? How do you know I am not sleeping now?

Good Question about Sleeping, Rudy: Zhuangzi Wondered about the Same Thing

The story, as translated by Lin Yutang,  goes like this:

“Once upon a time, I, Zhuangzi, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Zhuangzi. Soon I awakened, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.”

Of Blueberry Pie, Pontius Pilate, Don Quixote, and the 25th Amendment

In an earlier post I cited Ezra Klein for the observation that we’re not seeing a war on the media, we’re seeing a war on facts. But is Trump like Pontius Pilate, who cynically asked, “What is truth?”*

Maybe so. But beginning a war on facts by denying a fact that even illiterate people can plainly see is an odd way to start to manipulate the collective psyche. It sounds much more like a very young child denying that he ate the pie even though blueberries festoon his face.

Actually, it sounds like Don Quixote. When the Don looked at those windmills, he actually saw knights in black armor. When the Donald looked at his crowd, I think he actually saw the largest inauguration crowd in history.

windmill

Richard Cohen has pointed out that the Constitution now provides a remedy for nutjob presidents, section 4 of the 25th Amendment:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

*Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again …”

crowds