That Double-Edged Sword

  • To impeach or not to impeach. That is the obvious question; the contextual answer, much more equivocal. Would it be–and be seen as–a democratic win for rule of law, separation of powers and moral imperatives? Would it gin up and rally the anti-Trump, fear-and-loathing left and motivate independents and disgruntled establishment Republicans? Or would it further gin up and rally the Trump base, antagonize swing voters, deepen the volatile, visceral political chasm, add more Washington psychodrama and result in serious backlash against Democrats?

Impeachment without conviction (and there’s no precedent for a formally impeached-president conviction) could–realistically and ironically–make matters (even) worse and provide perverted momentum to Trump’s (“Exonerated Again!”) re-election campaign. Would Trump sycophant and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell treat articles of impeachment like some Obama Supreme Court nomination? 

Ideally, it should be the people who should speak up in 2020 and demand an end to the Trump presidency and the devolution of American democracy. The electorate put him in, and the electorate should throw him out. That’s how it should end, with no provision for a Mike Pence presidency. But after what we saw in 2016—and what we’ve been seeing since—would voters pivot from political theater and actually take advantage of an electoral mulligan?                                                       

  • Impeachment is like an indictment. It’s not a synonym for (bipartisan) conviction. More like a constitutional Rubicon crossed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi underscored that reality and who it is that holds the ultimate Trump card. “It’s up to the Republicans,” she pointed out, “whether they honor their oath of office or honor their oath of Trump.”
  • As this thing plays out, we could see the re-emergence of Mitt Romney as a non-Trump Republican who matters—and is in revisionist mode. Recall that as the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, he solicited Trump’s endorsement and then became a supplicant in 2016 when he had hoped to become secretary of state. Now the Utah senator sounds like somebody who regrets all that and is genuinely appalled at what this impulsive, unhinged, immoral president routinely does. “I can’t imagine being in the Senate … and looking around to see who’s with you,” said Romney. “You stand for what you believe in.” Good. Now back it up.
  • You can imagine the eye-rolling at the United Nations when Trump declared that “The future does not belong to globalism. The future belongs to patriots.” A prime reason there is such an international body as the UN is to counter all that self-serving countries do under the guise of nationalism and “patriotism.”
  • “I used to be the king of good press. They covered me well—otherwise, I probably wouldn’t be here.”—That was Donald Trump in a rare moment of veritable candor. Indeed, he used to get more than his share of “good press” when it was the New York tabloids responding to his “fake news” calls as “John Barron.” He was good copy for the gossip-craving paparazzi and the “Apprentice”-enamored show-biz media. And, yes, there was the mainstream media that couldn’t help itself during the run-up to the 2016 election. Trump had turned the primaries into a demeaning, pop-culture reality TV circus with CNN, MSNBC and Fox as enablers looking for ever-better ratings. Recall: “We’re going to have to interrupt our panel so we can go live to Possum Trot, Mississippi for a Trump rally.” Absent that kind of base-ramping coverage, Trump, arguably, “wouldn’t be here.”
  • For those who found the Mueller Report shy of impeachability, even though steeped in obstruction scenarios, the Ukrainian-whistle-blower-and-coverup is a blunt reminder that this unexonerated president has already been cheating for 2020.
  • Imagine how the spineless Republicans in Congress would be acting if anything remotely like what we’ve been seeing from Trump had been uncovered during the Obama Administration. From ally alienation to an exploding deficit to hush money to emoluments conflicts to justice obstruction to soliciting dirt on a political rival from a foreign country. Hell, remember how the GOPsters went after Obama for his “apology tour” and deference to foreign rulers!
  • “For Democrats, independents and non-Trump Republicans looking for even more immediate incentive to rid our democracy and our world of this existential White House threat, here’s another motivator. The day after the 2020 election, the terms of the Paris climate accord will formally permit the U.S. to withdraw from it. But that, of course, only happens with Trump’s unconscionable re-election.
  • If Republican legislators–not unlike their predecessors during the Watergate revelations–would think country before career, they wouldn’t be finding themselves held hostage to Trump fealty.
  • Former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon had an interesting take on a key similarity between Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “They’re both showmen, they’re both performers,” said Bannon. “The trouble is, that gets you elected, but it doesn’t help you govern.”
  • For a long time, Trump got by with having one personal attorney, the disgraced-and-incarcerated Michael Cohen. Now he has three: Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and William Barr.

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