“Impeachment” is already on the lips of pundits, newspaper editorials, constitutional scholars, and even a few members of Congress. From the right, Washington attorney Bruce Fein puts the odds at 50/50 that a President Trump commits impeachable offenses as president. Liberal Florida Rep. Alan Grayson says Trump’s insistence on building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, if concrete was poured despite Congress’s opposition, could lead down a path toward impeachment. Even the mainstream Republican head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently tossed out the I-word when discussing the civilian backlash if Trump’s trade war with China led to higher prices on everyday items sold at WalMart and Target. On his radio show last month, Rush Limbaugh even put a very brisk timeline on it: “They’ll be talking impeachment on day two, after the first Trump executive order,” he said.We're asked to imagine impeachment fever building mere months after a Trump inauguration, in the summer of 2017, under these circumstances:
He has ordered federal contractors to start building the wall between the United States and Mexico, though neither Mexico nor the U.S. Congress will pay for it. Trump has directed the National Guard to patrol Detroit, Chicago, New York and other neighborhoods with large Muslim populations, and accusations are swirling that he is illegally rounding up suspected Islamic extremists and shipping them off to special detention centers, including the recently reopened Alcatraz Island and to several of the World War II-era internment camps the U.S. government used for Japanese-Americans. Despite the counsel of his foreign policy and military advisers, Trump has commanded the CIA to resume waterboarding and other forms of torture to obtain information about imminent attacks. Inside the intelligence and defense communities, a full-blown internal war has broken out as some interrogators and high-ranking officials follow Trump’s orders, while others refuse to cooperate. Some resign their posts and begin leaking details to the media and Congress. Trump has also ordered airstrikes on the family members of known terrorists from Afghanistan to Libya. CNN airs live coverage of the bombings and protests sweep across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe as the death toll rises for the parents, siblings, spouses and children of ISIL and Al Qaeda fighters. At the United Nations, a resolution is passed, calling for Trump to be tried on war crimes.Are you kidding me? If Trump did all that, he'd be at 70 or 80 percent approval in the polls -- maybe more. Non-whites and dyed-in-the-wool progressives would be appalled, but heartland white America would be dancing in the streets with joy. It wouldn't matter whether any of it was succeeding. It wouldn't matter if it was making Americans' lives better. This would be Trump being resolute. Americans love that. They'd love it the way they love presidents at the outset of a war.
... the polls have turned against Trump. He still has his most passionate supporters, but the honeymoon in the Oval Office is clearly over.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about this scenario is the notion that torture would lead to calls for impeachment on the part of the mass public. Didn't we all see last month's poll on torture?
Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe torture can be justified to extract information from suspected terrorists, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll....Wall-building over the objections of Congress and Mexicans? War crimes objected to by the UN? Under those circumstances, Republican voters would be telling us that Trump was already a greater president than Saint Reagan. More generally, a mood of aggressive patriotism would take over America. The press would start by tut-tutting, then assess the zeitgeist and back away from skepticism. Swing voters would fall in line because, hey, everybody else at the weekend barbecue thought Trump was doing a great job.
The March 22-28 online poll asked respondents if torture can be justified "against suspected terrorists to obtain information about terrorism." About 25 percent said it is "often" justified while another 38 percent it is "sometimes" justified. Only 15 percent said torture should never be used.
Republicans were more accepting of torture to elicit information than Democrats: 82 percent of Republicans said torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified, compared with 53 percent of Democrats.
What upsets Americans is when they think resolute action has failed -- see George H.W. Bush when the Gulf War ended with a whimper, or his son when it became clear that the Iraq War had been botched a dozen different ways. Early on, a President Trump would be seen as a flop only if he failed to do all the things he promised, not if he did them. If he were to make good on his promises, he'd be acclaimed for it -- until difficulties arose. But that would take years.