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?
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
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.
- Among the many not lamenting the departure
of former National Security Adviser John Bolton is North Korea.
Its envoy to nuclear talks with the U.S., Kim Myong-gil, has characterized the
ouster of Bolton as a welcome and “wise political decision.” That downright
diplomatic language had been absent when it came to the hardline Bolton. Recall
that North Korea, which had blamed Bolton and hawkish aides for the nuclear
stalemate, had turned up the anti-Bolton, anti-diplomatic rhetoric with references
such as “war maniac” and “human scum.” Now the onus is on both sides to finally
cut a meaningful denuclearization deal sans scapegoat.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien is the author of “While America
Slept,” billed as a “wake-up call to the American people.” In it he warned that
the world had become more dangerous “under President Obama’s lead-from-behind
foreign policy.” And now he’s signed on to the administration of the one who alienates
and insults allies and unilaterally misleads from behind Twitter.
it comes to those who testify before Congressional Committees, there are
all-too-familiar optics. From preening, agenda-driven committee members to
reluctant witnesses. As for the latter, some are terse. Or curt. Or obstinate. Or
flat-out combative. And then there’s the contemptible Corey Lewandowski,
who recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee on what role he
might have played in helping the president curtail the scope of the Russian
investigation. Lewandowski is a self-serving, infuriating punk who’s obviously
still doing the bidding of Donald Trump—while using the hearing forum to
promote that allegiance in a way that could help him politically. Oliver North
never seemed so cooperative and pleasant.
Donald Trump’s tweeted reaction to Lewandowski’s opening statement.
filibustering. This is a coverup plain and simple.”—House Judiciary Committee Chairman
Jerrold Nadler’s take on Lewandowski’s testimony.
know that there hasn’t been anybody like Trump as president before. Andrew
Johnson never seemed so presidential. But there have been periodic foreshadowings,
including the Nixon-Agnew take on the media and impeachment scenarios.
Here’s another. Before there was Trump’s “basket-of-deplorables” base—as
defined by Hillary Clinton in 2016–there was this high-profile incident
during the Democratic primary of 2008. It came courtesy of HuffPo putting
online audio of Barack Obama speaking at a private fundraiser in San
Francisco. Obama referenced those in Midwestern small towns and rural
Pennsylvania where a changing world had claimed traditional jobs. As a
result, many white residents felt frustrated and embittered. They blamed
government, turned to religion, reveled in their firearms and sought
“So, it’s not surprising
then that (people there) get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or
antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or
anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” said Obama. The “bitter-cling”
comments, ironically, were like news-cycle manna for the struggling Clinton
campaign. “Americans need a president that will stand up for them,” responded
Clinton playing the anti-elitist card. “Not a president that looks down on them.”
Yes, that was then.
are America’s biggest challenges: avoiding worst-case showdowns with
Iran, North Korea and China; being part of the solution to the climate change
threat; and protecting America’s democracy from Russian interference. Could
there be a worse time for an ultra-impulsive, unprepared, arrogant,
narcissistic commander-in-chief surrounded by career-first sycophants and
opportunists? There’s a reason why “Seven Days in May” and “Dr. Strangelove” remain
in the conversation.
Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision.
A terrible communicator.”—Yes, that was the ‘communicator’-in-chief.
anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate
with a foreign leader?” That was the president’s vintage Trumpian
response—as well as a rhetorical question–to an intelligence community
whistleblower’s complaint about a “promise” allegedly made by Trump to Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelensky.
opportunist update: Sean Spicer just made his debut on “Dancing With
the Stars.” His take: “Frankly, I’m just making money, trying to
enjoy life.” How candid. Too bad he couldn’t be that honest when he was Trump’s
sycophantic, tap-dancing spokesman.
British counterpart, to the degree that’s possible, is Boris Johnson—or BoJo—as
he’s known in the UK. And he’s no more popular with traditional western
European allies than Trump is. They view Johnson as the villain of the Brexit
campaign, and they still miss the early Tony Blair, who could woo the French,
for example, in their own language. And the Europeans, ironically, also remember
when Johnson was a journalist in the 1990s, spinning highly
exaggerated stories about the EU that helped pioneer the outraged Eurosceptic
style in the British press.
Ronstadt, the 10-time Grammy winner whose career was ended by
Parkinson’s disease, will be honored in December at the Kennedy
Center in Washington. She said she will be there to accept the honor—if
Trump doesn’t attend. “I don’t think anybody would show up” if he were going,
Trump: “I think I’m going to get a Nobel Prize for a lot of things, if
they gave it out fairly, which they don’t.” Whatever.