Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Mythology of the Quid Pro Quo

Friends, Adam Schiff has sold half the country a bill of goods, and not for the first time either.  He's claiming that, if a "quid pro quo" can be proven in the Trump administration's outreach to Ukraine, that would justify the impeachment and removal of the President.  My latest article, soon to appear at WND, explains why this is pure bunkum.

Quid Pro What?

As Democrats pursue their “impeachment inquiry” into President Donald Trump's efforts to induce Ukraine to investigate the alleged corruption of Joe and Hunter Biden, on every American's lips these days is a Latin phrase: quid pro quo. 

Does the fate of the Trump presidency really rest on a Latin saying that few citizens have ever heard, and which only a small percentage understand? Possibly, but, as I will explain, there's no reason why it should.

In simple terms, quid pro quo means “you scratch my back, and I scratch yours.” It refers, therefore, to a transaction from which both parties expect to derive benefit. The flip side of a quid pro quo is an assurance, spoken or unspoken, that, if you refuse to scratch my back, I certainly won't be scratching yours.

Given the seemingly innocuous nature of quid pro quos, we might reasonably ask: why are the Democrats concentrating on proving a quid pro quo in President Trump's outreach to Ukraine? Why do so many deep state denizens, including the whistleblower, view it as scandalous that a quid pro quo may have been at issue? Why, moreover, have even some Congressional Republicans hinted that, if a quid pro quo could be proved, then President Trump would be in serious trouble?

Everyone seems to be assuming that the real issue at stake in these impeachment proceedings is a quid pro quo. Since impeachment is an inherently political and therefore subjective process, in a sense they may be right: a quid pro quo is, or can be, impeachable, if Congressmen believe it to be so. The truth, however, is that the presence of absence of a quid pro quo in the Trump administration's relationship with Ukraine is utterly irrelevant to the legality or even the propriety of President Trump's behavior. No one, in fact, should care whether there was a quid pro quo at all.

Why do I say that? It's simple: quid pro quos are the very substance of foreign policy. Countries are constantly negotiating with one another, and in the process of negotiating they routinely offer to do favors for one another on a transactional basis. They offer quid pro quos.

Let us not forget that in many ways the current Ukraine crisis has its origins in former Vice-President Biden's boast on tape that he demanded that Ukraine fire its chief prosecutor, or else it would not receive a $1 billion loan from the United States. That's what we call, if we're inclined to Latinized pomposity, a “quid pro quo.” Biden didn't conceal the terms of the deal he was offering to Ukraine, because he was proud of his accomplishment. Ukraine wanted its money, and we wanted a prosecutor fired. Thanks to the magic of the quid pro quo, we both got what we wanted. Marvelous!

Why, then, are Democrats, the media, and all too many Beltway Republicans prepared to assume that, if President Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, he is therefore in violation of his oath of office and liable to impeachment? The answer is simple, but deeply disturbing to any Trump supporter: all these groups fault President Trump for a quid pro quo not because they are opposed to quid pro quos in themselves, but because they assume, almost entirely without evidence, that Trump's core motivation in advocating for a Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens was corrupt. They assume in the process that the Bidens are innocent of any wrongdoing. They assume that Trump knows that the Bidens are innocent. They assume, moreover, that Trump's only possible reason for pursuing a “bogus” investigation of the Bidens is to slander them and thus to gain advantage in the 2020 presidential election. 
These are, in case you haven't noticed, some mighty big assumptions!

As far as I am aware, Democrats like Adam Schiff haven't wasted a single minute trying to validate any of these assumptions, and nor has the media upbraided them for their omission. That's because the ill will and corrupt motives of Donald J. Trump are taken for granted in almost all quarters in Washington, D.C. But you and I know better: we know that, if the really substantive charge in this impeachment inquiry is that President Trump conducted a foreign policy motivated not by the national interest but by his personal, private interests, then we have a right to expect that this all-important contention will be not simply assumed, but amply proven with evidence. Thus far, it hasn't been. Not even close.

It bears repeating that the same Democrats who are scandalized by Trump's attempt to involve Ukraine in an investigation of the Bidens are not troubled in the least by the intelligence community, the Justice Department, and the Obama administration seeking the help of a wide network of foreigners — Australians, Brits, Italians, Russians, and Ukrainians, among others — in spying on and digging up dirt regarding Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign. 
Just as the Democrats, the media, and many establishment Republicans assume Trump's corruption in 2019, they assumed, and continue to assume, the Obama administration's and the deep state's patriotism, professionalism, and even-handedness in 2016. Moreover, anyone who looks critically at those efforts to undermine Trump and his campaign — anyone such as Bill Barr and John Durham — is assumed to be engaged in a witch hunt, or to be peddling “conspiracy theories.” But how would we ever know that the “conspiracy” against Trump was merely theoretical, and not real, unless we investigated the matter fully?

In the end, Democrats in Congress are chasing their tails, and in more ways than one. They have set themselves the task of proving that Donald Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, presumably because proving a quid pro quo, which is a commonplace in politics and in life, is easier than proving corruption or “treasonous” intent. It certainly looks, though, as if the Democrats will fall short even of their self-appointed and minimal task of proving a quid pro quo. The evidence is murky at best that any such transaction ever occurred, or was suggested in an intelligible way to both sides. For this reason, the quid pro quo is a dud, and the impeachment inquiry will fail.

What's more, though, the Democrats, by starting their inquiry with an unspoken but deeply inappropriate assumption — that the President of the United States is corrupt and unpatriotic — have invalidated and tainted all their subsequent efforts. Adam Schiff and his ilk, by starting with the assumed guilt of President Trump and working backwards to try to find the “evidence,” no matter how flimsy, to substantiate it, have turned American justice on its head. They have made a mockery of the very Constitution which they profess to revere. They have, in short, sunk the S.S. Impeachment before its keel was ever laid. The sooner they realize this, the better.

I have, therefore, a quid pro quo to offer the impeachment-happy Democrats in Congress. Resign now, and we, the American people, will assume (in a fit of generosity) that you regret your betrayal of our constitutional system and your repeated calumnies against our duly elected President. We will therefore forego exacting justice on you, which will, should you foolishly reject this offer of clemency, come swiftly and surely in the form of your ignominious defeat in 2020.

There it is. Take it or leave it.

You can't say we didn't warn you.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears weekly on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480.

And here it is at WND: 

And, if you get through all that and still have an appetite for more, check out this superb article on the myth of Nazi German invincibility in WWII.  Most people don't like the Nazis (imagine that!), but many still assume that they were hyper-efficient and master strategists.  The truth is that they made innumerable blunders which cost them the war.  There's very little in this analysis with which I would disagree.


  1. Dr. Waddy: Last things first: I think most of the details in the article about the Nazis to be credible and certainly agree with the apparent main conclusion - that their defeat was assured. And yet:

    The Bismarck and its sister ship Tirpitz didn't use very much oil; Bismarck only seriously sortied once and Tirpitz not at all. I agree that the King Tiger tank was, because of its immobility, not good at infantry support but in tank to tank battle it was to the Sherman - which was also used by the Russians and the British - as is the booted foot to the bug. It surely outclassed the outstanding T34 too. The Sherman was successful as a medium tank but had to be deployed in large numbers to be effective against German tanks.Individual Shermans were fire traps.

    The German Me262 jet fighter was a solid, very advanced plane. Apparently Hitler delayed its use as a fighter by deeming it a fighter-bomber.In 1942, when the Me262 first flew, the Allies did not yet have the P51 Mustangs which had some chance against the Me262 when it was belatedly used as a fighter.

    The V-1 and V-2. Their main effect was to drive the morale of Londoners below that of 1940. By then they had had it with wartime terror and deprivation and this was just too much.

    The Uboats: Churchill said, in reference to the really dark days in early 1942 in the Battle of the Atlantic, that it was the one thing that truly frightened him in the entire war. Be that as it may: the tin tubes the Germans used as subs in WWI almost starved Britain; their WWII subs were far better and I think it possible they could have closed the North Atlantic. Eventually the U.S. and Britain got together on antisubmarine warfare but it was a "near run thing". Had the Germans done so, what would have been the effect? Who knows, Hitler might have blundered that too.

    And yes, I agree that the U.S. submarine campaign against Japan actually accomplished what the Nazis intended in the North Atlantic. But it also shows what the Nazis might have done.

    German elan? The German soldier benefitted greatly from an officer corps trained to treat him as a little brother. I think the Germans fought with terrible ferocity even when their defeat was certain; there are many examples of this in Russia in 1944.

    Was it true, as Churchill said, "Hitler must break us in this island or lose the war". If so, consider the following: Hitler's restraint of his army before Dunkirk, though having some plausible reason, was a decisive mistake. Churchill expected only to recover perhaps 50,000 of the 300,000 man British army in France ( let alone some French). This would not have been enough to resist a Nazi invasion. Yet, despite the loss of most of their heavy arms, the army was saved. Had Hitler not made this blunder what then? I would argue that if the Nazis did think it absolutely vital, whether or not they had defeated the RAF, had they resolved to lose most of their surface fleet, they might have forced a landing, at huge cost, through the Royal Navy in the face of a British land force unable to stop them. Had they taken Britain and been able to hold it, the result might well have been an extended cold war with the U.S. which, without the British base, could not have invaded Europe. The Soviet Union? Without fear of a two front war and without British and U.S. aid to Russia, European Russia would probably have fallen to Hitler. So much for Bolshevism I suppose, though it would have been replaced by as savage a tyranny.

    Bottom line: the WWII German military in all phases, air, sea and land, presented perhaps as profound an existential threat to humanity as has any force. Their defeat redounds to the ever lasting credit of all who fought them.

    So, I think all of the presumptions, arrogant Hitlerian pronunciamentos and the utter madness of taking on Britain, the U.S. and Rusia sure doomed the Nazis but that it COULD have been different.

  2. Here, here, I agree with your thoughts on the Quid Pro Quo. I do believe it is running thin on the American people.

  3. I think you might be right, Linda, but frankly the polling on impeachment is a little thin. I'd like to see what a Republican-friendly polling organization like Rasmussen makes of it.

  4. Linda: I accessed that Ben Franklin's World site you cited and I'm definitely going back to that soon. Right now I'm concentrating on the origins of WWI and Churchill's role in it. Dr. Waddy: Much of what I've been reading tends to support what Buchanan had to say about this in his book.

  5. Dr. Waddy and Linda: Quid pro adsurdum. Sancta simplicitas Demus.

  6. Dr. Waddy and Linda: I think all of this frantic Dem effort - which, if it fails, coupled with the revelations and indictments coming over their now discredited "collusion" faux pas, may fix their hash in 2020 - is purely political and, OK, it will be decided in the political arena in 2020, to their profound discredit, I too believe.

  7. Jack, that's very interesting about WWI. Britain's role in the war certainly was of epochal importance. Churchill assumed that containing Germany was of paramount importance to the well being of the British Empire. In the end, Churchill played a key role in the destruction of BOTH empires. I guess you could call that a semi-victory?

    Jack, that's an excellent point that the (inevitable) failure of impeachment may have greater political ramifications than impeachment itself. There are about a thousand different ways that the Dems could be their own worst enemies in 2020, and in which they could fall out with each other. Could impeachment and/or indictments of deep state Russia-gate promoters be the triggers? Perhaps. One wonders if all the Dem presidential candidates will stay united on the question of impeachment much longer. If I were Trump, I would try my darnedest to stoke those divisions.

  8. Dr. Waddy: Right now I'm rereading Tuchman. I read a very scholarly treatise on the origins of the war - and forgot to record the author and title - which supported several of Buchanan's assertions though not his main one. It exhaustively examined the evolution of thinking on all sides and appeared to me not to concentrate blame. But it said, as did Buchanan, that the German naval buildup was, for a time, meant to counter the Russian and French navies. It also disabused me of the thought that Churchill cannot have had enough prewar influence to have made a difference. The Triple Entente was somewhat informal and Churchill and Sir Edward Grey apparently did do some ad hoc negotiating without the Cabinet's ken. I'll get the name of that book; it was outstanding.

  9. Interesting! If the High Seas Fleet really was aimed more at the French and Russians, that would be important -- because then the British fears of the German naval buildup were arguably irrational or contrived. That strikes me as a half truth, though, because we know the Kaiser was immensely jealous of Britain and all its toys... It strikes me as true, though, that Churchill would not have been in a position to engineer a war with anyone. He would have had a lot of help in that department.

  10. DR. Waddy: Most of what I've been reading would support your view; eventually the German buildup precipitated alarm in Britain and became a confrontation recognized by both sides. German Admiral Tirpitz and British Admiral Fisher and his student, Churchill, certainly came to see it that way. Everything I've read so far supports your comment on the Kaiser's predilictions.

  11. It's a crying shame, if you ask me, Jack, because together Britain and Germany would have been unstoppable! Whoever told the Kaiser about boats did the world a grave disservice...