Every day, at the start of the Senate impeachment trial, chaplain Barry Black would offer a prayer for the chamber. It was always apposite and thought provoking. Ahead of the vote, the prayer was for courage for those about to make their decision.
That prayer perhaps fell on slightly deaf ears, or ears which just at that moment didn’t want to hear. I don’t say that because the Senate voted not to convict the former President, we are lucky enough to live in a democracy with the luxury of freedom of choice, but because some didn’t even seem to have the courage of their initial conviction.
It is well documented that some Republicans felt unable to vote against Donald Trump because they feared for their futures, worried that in taking him on they were taking on a ballot box battle they may not win.
It may not be the most honourable route but it’s a route and they stuck to it. Others, fearsome critics in the past, made their choice and stuck with it, getting out and proudly championing the choice they made.
But then there are the people who managed to vote one way and talk the other. Mitch McConnell for example.
He voted in support of the former President, then less than half an hour later was claiming he had fomented the fight.
The crowd on Jan 6 having been "fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth. Because he was angry he'd lost an election."
What’s more, “Former President Trump's actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty…..Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day." They don’t sound much like the words of someone who was committed to the person he just acquitted.
Or what about Senator Thom Tillis, another Republican acquitter who equally claims that “no president is above the law or immune from criminal prosecution and that includes former President Trump.”
Maybe there will be criminal charges, maybe there won’t, but hoping for someone else to enforce sanction seems a pretty lame way forward.
The Republican party members kicked the can down the road today. They neither fully embraced the force that is Donald Trump nor made him a spent force.
As a result he is the biggest force in the party and they will have live with the consequences of his ongoing influence.
The man who before his election they never saw as a force to be reckoned with, who after election they never quite got a grip on, now has a very strong grip on them.