How can one seventy-three-year-old man so dominate our consciousness, with twenty-five word tweets, no less? Who would expect we would live in a twitterocracy before we were done?
The conventional phrase now among people who write more than twenty-five words at a time is that impeachment “threatens his presidency.” First of all, he does not preside over anything other than his twitter account, and second, impeachment does not threaten anything. To threaten something, you have to place it in danger. Impeachment threatens only the Democratic party, like one of those guns in the old cartoons with the barrel that does a one-eighty, to blow off the head of the person who pulls the trigger.
I’d like to say I’m astonished Democrats could make a blunder this serious, but you could see it coming. This particular fiasco has been on the horizon for three years. Now it’s here, you have to think, “You haven’t made enough mistakes already? You have to add this one?” Where is the common sense political wisdom that opposition parties supposedly bring to bear on public discourse? Does Trump derange people’s minds that well?
To state the argument once more: impeachment does not threaten Donald Trump’s presidency. It threatens Democrats’ ability to replace him in 2020. Though I’m sure, with people like Giuliani and Mulvaney around to speak for you, impeachment cannot be a pleasant process, Trump should thank his amazing good luck that the Democrats took this step. Like a general who makes a serious mistake shortly before a major engagement, Democrats have blown it. Almost nothing they do during the upcoming battle can help them recover.
To put themselves in a position where they think exclusively about how to rid themselves of a politician they hate, Democrats nominated a weak candidate, based on her name, her gender, and her husband’s popularity. Among other weaknesses, Clinton underestimated Trump, and the strength of his support. She made elementary, even egregious mistakes that no presidential candidate should make. With that defeat in their pockets, Democrats want to assure their nemesis a second term, and waste their limited energy on a pointless impeachment process.
Among many other weaknesses, Clinton underestimated Trump, and the strength of his support.
We have seen enough already to know how poorly this process serves the Democrats, or any opposition party. Have you seen independents, third parties, or anyone else but Democrats call for impeachment? No. That’s because other people are not as obsessed with Trump as Democrats are obsessed. Democrats say they are part of the Resistance. If so, why do they undertake futile projects that aid the object of their contempt? Why increase the likelihood that voters will give him a second term?
Democrats do not think that way, of course. They believe impeachment increases their chances of success in 2020. Moreover, given the nature of our electoral process, we cannot readily assess the impact of impeachment proceedings on election outcomes, even after the fact. No matter who wins next November, people who take the Democrats’ side of this argument, or people who take my side of this argument, have only hypotheticals and what-ifs at hand to evaluate whether or not impeachment affected the outcome, and if so, how.
Yet from here, in late 2019, one can say with confidence, impeachment is not a good strategy to deny Trump a second term in office. Dozens of people can testify to Congress that Trump tried to extort Ukraine’s government, and it will not matter. We live under a Mad King, and he has deranged the entire polity. Trump Derangement Syndrome is real. Impeachment qualifies as one of its symptoms. We have to stop paying attention to this man. Impeachment focuses attention on him.
We have to stop paying attention to this man. Impeachment focuses attention on him.
A friend tells me I should stop my rants about impeachment. The thought Democrats have gone off the rails with this strategy depresses her. Then I remember, impeachment does not take the party ‘off the rails’ at all. Parties use presidential impeachment to ‘get’ each other now.
If you have tawdry goods on the president and his mistress, get him for that. If you have tawdry goods about how the president conducts foreign policy, get him for that. Extortion to pressure a foreign power to assist your reelection campaign is more politically relevant than illicit sexual encounters, but all of it serves equally well for the impeachment mill. If you have something to incriminate the president – note crime lies at the root of incriminate – push something into the grinder to see what comes out the other end.
You don’t have to be a smart analyst, though, to see that if you impeach the president during an election year, you are doing something stupid. So I’ll try to take it easy on the impeachment front, until the next witness testifies in a secret hearing that the president’s conduct in office is beyond the pale. Observers express astonishment at the president’s acts, though his character and his behavior are predictable and boring. The fact that something violates norms does not make it astonishing.
Observers express astonishment at the president’s acts, though his character and his behavior are predictable and boring. The fact that something violates norms does not make it astonishing.
I almost wonder why Democratic committee members have not appeared at their so-called investigative hearings dressed as kangaroos. I suppose that would be undignified. More dignified is the star chamber, as a star evokes more respect than a kangaroo. I Googled star chamber, to find out its exact meaning. Here is what I found: “The term star chamber refers pejoratively to any secret or closed meeting held by a judicial or executive body, or to a court proceeding that seems grossly unfair or that is used to persecute an individual.”
Congratulations, Congressman Schiff. You hit pretty much every part of that definition. Although the concept of unfairness does not apply to Trump, holding hearings in secret makes the process appear unfair nevertheless.
I am sure Democrats can give you reasons for holding impeachment hearings and taking depositions in secret, but they are not good ones. They can tell you why they want to restrict access to hearing transcripts, why they want to conduct their investigations in special rooms where cell phones and recording devices are not allowed, why they do not want Republicans to participate in any part of the proceedings, to the point where Republicans stage a sit-in in one of those secure rooms.
I am sure Democrats can give you reasons for holding impeachment hearings and taking depositions in secret, but they are not good ones.
I expect they believe that is the best way to get their man. You have to work backward from their goal – Trump’s removal from office – to explain their behavior. Yet explanation suggests Democrats have a strategy, which they do not. They merely have an improvised set of tactics, and politicians in thrall to Trump derangement do not make competent tacticians. I see no evidence that anyone has even written down what they want to do.
When a member of your household suffers derangement, others who live with that person can suffer a similar loss of rational behavior. That is, as people try to adjust to the mad individual in their midst, they lose their ability to behave as they might in a healthy environment. They can no longer make sound judgments.
That is Trump’s apparent effect on people who want to remove him from office. Removers have only one option, with several ways to reach that destination: deny Trump 270 electoral votes in the 2020 election. Yet to watch removers in action, to observe what they do and do not do, what they say and do not say, you have to conclude their thoughts are both confused and off the mark.
Trump’s antagonists do not seem able to work through the one realistic means they have to remove Trump from office.
Consequently Trump’s antagonists do not seem able to execute the one realistic means they have to eject him from office. To me, that is the definition of derangement. They cannot accept that Trump is president, and they have no realistic plan to remove him. If you doubted the truth of that statement several weeks ago, you have ample evidence now: a decision to impeach the president during an election year.
Do not let Trump derangement into your head. It leaves no space for anything else. If Trump derangement can induce even Nancy Pelosi to go along with this unfortunate show, what other brains will it swallow? Who else will join the circus? Republicans fed peanuts to their oafish elephant before Trump’s 2016 victory. Democrats, for their own reasons, began braying about Trump under the Resistance banner. The impresario in the Oval Office acts as more than a ringmaster. Trump is more like an overweight, aging pied piper. The whole country exists on edge, to await the next crisis or blow-up.
Republicans in the Senate will not forsake their piper between now and November 2020. Democrats believe their loyalty does not matter. They want to use impeachment proceedings to convince people they ought to remove Trump from office. If they succeed, the Senate vote on articles of impeachment does not matter. They will fail, however, because you cannot defeat incumbency with impeachment when voters so strongly reject their political leaders.
If Democrats do not convince people to remove Trump from office, their political tactics will have been a colossal waste of energy. The party cannot afford to make errors, or waste any of its paltry assets. Yet it has made one gratuitous error after another. Party leaders ought to rethink and regroup, as these activities would remedy confusion and derangement, yet they do not even grasp how to begin.