Friday, July 21, 2017


Noah Rothman thinks congressional Republicans' inability to deal with President Trump is a failure of imagination:
If the 2016 presidential election cycle demonstrated anything, it was that Republicans suffer from a crippling lack of imagination. That ordeal should have established that the unprecedented is not impossible. Even now, Republicans seem as though they are trying to convince themselves that their eyes are lying to them, but they are not. The tempo of the investigation into President Trump is accelerating, and a nightmare scenario is eminently imaginable. Only congressional Republicans can avert disaster, and only then by being clear about the actions they are prepared to take if Trump instigates a crisis of constitutional legitimacy.
Even though he's a conservative, Rothman believes that Republicans have to make clear to Trump that impeachment is on the table:
Republicans in Congress must stop comforting themselves with the notion that the worst cannot happen. They have to summon the courage to state publicly what they so freely tell reporters on background. If they are so concerned that the norms and traditions that have preserved the rule of law in this republic for 240 years are in jeopardy, they must say so. And they must say what the consequences will be for Trump, his associates, and his family if he goes too far....

Republicans may dislike the prospect, but it’s fast becoming time for them to start saying the “I” word if only to save the president from his most reckless impulses. The longer they tell themselves that the unthinkable is impossible, the more likely it becomes.
The problem isn't that Republicans lack the imagination to foresee an all-out Trump attack on the rule of law. It's that they can't imagine what would be so terrible about that -- it wouldn't have an obvious direct impact on them. It wouldn't take money out of the pockets of their donors. Their voters would cheer.

That's really all that matters. Who cares about the preservation of institutions and norms that hold the country together?

It's been obvious all year that Republicans have no abstract notion of what would be best for the country, and would have no interest in implementing such an agenda if they could devise one. All they want to do is check off items on the wish lists of Randian plutocrats, Christian-conservative theocrats, and Fox/talk radio revanchists. How else to explain their near-universal willingness to deprive tens of millions of people of health insurance, to slash non-military programs, and to hand the country over to an arrested-development bully who knows less about governance than a smart eighth grader? Some of this would hurt some of their voters, but would delight others. The cuts thrill their donors. And if the result is blood in the streets, who cares? It won't reach the tidy homes of GOP officials themselves. Their lives will go on as usual.

Elected Republicans seem incapable of taking seriously any concern that doesn't personally touch them, their donors, or their base. Torture? The only Republican who seems at all troubled by it is John McCain -- because he was tortured. Same-sex marriage? Rob Portman is a rare Republican who came around on this issue -- because his son is gay.

So how can we expect them to care about the rule of law? Will its erosion hurt them personally? Will it hurt the Koch brothers? Will it hurt the retirees in the diner in their district who still wear their Make America Great Again hats? No? Then none of it matters.

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