INDIANAPOLIS — A week ago Monday I began writing the “Double dog impeachment dare” story that headlined the Sept. 19 edition of HPI as a cautionary primer for why going down that rabbit hole would be dangerous for our nation because the consequences are often unintended and the ramifications impossible to gauge. 

By the time I published it a week ago, the emerging scandal of the DNI whistleblower’s urgent complaint involving President Trump and Ukraine President Zelensky had blown up like a mushroom cloud, as fast as Hurricane Rita did in 2005.

It is a disconcerting circumstance. And I am disturbed by what appears to be another round of scandal and hyper media, allegations and denial, talking heads churning out conspiracies and illogical defenses.

Our nation faces huge challenges. Our entitlements are on an assured crisis course, probably by the end of the next presidency. We are now running trillion dollar deficits with a good economy. We have no idea how bad that will get in a recession, or a severe recession. We have climate scenarios that are daunting in an immigration/refugee and humantarian sense, and we must begin preparing now. We don’t have a grasp on how artificial intelligence is going to impact the workforce as a whole, and the vital middle class specifically.

Scandals, probes and hearings are grinding us down at a time when we should be preparing our great nation for the generations of our children and grandchildren.

If you’ve read the previous nine pages involving Mike Pence and Dan Coats, there are some important tell tales that are cautionary.

Dan Coats became emotional at the end of his Economic Club speech when he urged us to appreciate the great nation we have and prepare ourselves to hand it off in the “sweep of history” to our children. I’ve heard a lot of great speeches, but that one was truly moving.

Coats reminded us of the importance of the truth. 

Or getting captured in a slogan (“build that wall”), which can be 20 feet high and topped by a 21-foot ladder or 21-foot deep tunnel.

Coats tells us that technology is accelerating at an unimaginable pace. Dictators like President Xi or Kim Jong Un have an advantage: They can make split decisions, while our presidents and Congress must go through processes. This could put us at an incredible disadvantage  without wise leaders who work with each other, have a viable trust, and don’t get swallowed into the rabbit holes.

In Tom LoBianco’s profile of Mike Pence, a man I once had a working relationship with, we learn that his boss, President Trump, cannot be trusted. His word means nothing, as we learned on the July 12-15, 2016, sequence that brought Pence onto the GOP ticket. We learn that Mike and Karen Pence rely on Biblical scripture to reconcile their exchange of principle for power.

Vice President Pence has cut off an array of relationships out of fear of stoking the paranoia of his boss, and that will not serve him well in the long run.

In President Trump, we find a leader who dodged what he calls a “witch hunt” after he sought, as a private citizen, help to power from a foreign adversary. The Republicans in our congressional delegation claim he was exonerated, but the only reason Trump wasn’t indicted was because of a Deparment of Justice rule stating that a sitting president cannot face charges.

Even more disturbing is what we’re learning now, which is the day after the Russian collusion threat seemed to pass on July 24, he engaged in the same behavior. This time as president, appearing to extort dirt from a foreign leader in exchange for congressionally approved military aid. It is an astonishing development.

As Trump opponents try to paint him as a wannabe authoritarian, we’re finding a handful of states cancelling presidential primaries so that Trump’s Republican challengers — William Weld, Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh — can’t get on a ballot. That not only reveals a lack of confidence in the political potency of the incumbent, but it reinforces what Trump himself called a “rigged system.”

This past week, I’ve pressed several members of our delegation to weigh in on just one component of the Ukraine story, since at this time we don’t have the DNI inspector general’s report, haven’t heard from the acting DNI Joseph Maguire, the whistleblower, or Dan Coats, other than what he said Tuesday, which was greatly constrained due to the classified nature of his knowledge.

It’s a simple question: Is it OK for American political candidates to seek anything of value from foreign sources? There has been no response. So let me help them out with what should be P101: No, it’s not OK. Or as U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse said, “It’s really, really bad.”

There are laws that prohibit campaign funding to come from foreign sources, as well as anything of value. There is a sprawling history of presidential races where foreign powers don’t endorse our nominees.  

The last time foreign money came into an American presidential race, with President Clinton in 1996, there was widespread criticism and offenders faced legal consequences.

Our challenges and dilemmas grow and multiply, while our courage and logic pool dissipates like a shallow puddle in a heat wave. 

So much for my cautionary primers.