EDITORIAL: Toomey puts country over party

The Dispatch editorial board
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., departs after the Republican Conference held leadership elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thumbs up to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for bucking his party and voting to move forward with the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Most Republicans on Tuesday supported a procedural motion by Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, which sought to declare the trial unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.

But citing precedent extending back more than a century, Toomey was among five Senate Republicans to support moving the trial forward. 

Paul's motion failed. The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 9. 

But the fact that 45 Republicans supported Paul's attempt to scuttle the trial suggests convicting Trump remains a long shot. Conviction would require the support of at least 17 Republicans if every Democrat votes in its favor.

Toomey, however, is not seeking reelection in 2022 and isn't burdened by the political calculations that other members of the Senate GOP are doubtlessly taking into consideration.

The facts in this case are clear: on Jan. 6, Trump told his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol and stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden's election victory. They did, and laid siege to the seat of U.S. democracy.

It was an attack on the republic itself, one that posed a very real threat to the lives of members of Congress. 

Frankly, if inciting an insurrection isn't a high crime nor a misdemeanor, we're unsure what is. 

Now, the best Trump's defenders have are specious claims about technicalities. Thankfully, a handful of Senate Republicans, including Toomey, weren't buying it Tuesday.

Thumbs down to the utter disaster that is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf blamed failures at the federal level for the dismal vaccination rates in Pennsylvania. There's no doubt that federal mismanagement — and the previous administration's approach of wishing the virus away —  has contributed to the lack of a nationwide distribution plan.

But the Wolf administration's response to COVID-19 have remained inconsistent, opaque and unclear throughout the outbreak. For example, the administration's refusal to release more details about outbreaks and deaths, such as local hotspots, has contributed to widespread skepticism about the threat of the virus itself.

It would be expected that the state's response would evolve as facts change. But throughout the pandemic, Wolf has waffled.

He's threatened to crackdown on business that flouted his orders, but ultimately backed down. Last year, he caved to high school athletic leagues who wanted players on the field while many schools weren't permitting students in the classroom. 

And, throughout the the deadly outbreak, Wolf's Republican opposition has sowed dissent and distrust. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a system of government that's broken from top to bottom. 

Thumbs up to the quick-thinking, level-headed Disney World employee police say helped a Dover Township woman escape an abusive boyfriend.

Northern Regional Police went to a home late on Jan. 9 in response to a report from the employee about a domestic disturbance, according to charging documents.

The employee reported that while assisting a customer with booking Disney World tickets over the phone, she heard the customer yell "get off me" and "get away from me." 

Police said the employee sensed something was off and started asking questions but that the customer would only reply with "yes" or "no" answers and wouldn't go into details about what was happening.

"The Disney World employee at one point asked if (the woman) was actually calling to book a stay and she stated 'no.' She then asked (the woman) if she needed law enforcement to her home and she stated 'yes,"' according to the criminal complaint. 

Wayne Terry Shiflett, 38, of the 3300 block of Glen Hollow Drive in Dover Township, now is in York County Prison, charged with strangulation, a felony; making terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another and simple assault, both misdemeanors; and a summary harassment offense.