Thursday, August 30, 2018


I'm underwhelmed by this big Washington Post story:
President Trump’s advisers and allies are increasingly worried that he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself from a possible Democratic takeover of the House, which would empower the opposition party to shower the administration with subpoenas or even pursue impeachment charges.

Within Trump’s orbit, there is consensus that his current legal team is not equipped to effectively navigate an onslaught of congressional demands....

“Winter is coming,” said one Trump ally in close communication with the White House. “Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”
I seem to recall similar expressions of concern about Trump staffing choices two years ago:

I recall quite a few smug pronouncements in 2017 proclaiming that Trump wasn't doing nearly as much damage as feared because he hadn't properly staffed the White House and didn't understand what it took to get stuff done in Washington. (I wrote a few of those myself.) Funny, he seems to be doing quite a bit of damage to the country now.

If Trump survives to 2020 -- and I'm betting he will -- he'll do it the way he survives everything that's potentially damaging to him: by relying on demagoguery, skulduggery, the unswerving loyalty of GOP tribalists, and the work of a few underlings who actually are competent.

He won the election because he really did have the more sophisticated tech game (augmented, of course, by Facebook data his campaign shouldn't have been able to obtain). He had Wikileaks and the Russians. He had loyalists in the FBI who pressured James Comey to publicly redirect attention to Hillary Clinton's emails at the eleventh hour.

And, most important, he had his own highly developed rabble-rousing skills. The things that are supposed to matter in a campaign -- policy positions, debates, moral character -- meant nothing because of his ability to tap into conservative cultural and racial rage.

The next two years will probably be the same way. It's conceivable that Democratic success in the 2018 midterms will be so far above expectations that some congressional Republicans subsequently decide to abandon Trump -- however, expectations for the Democrats are now so high that Democrats probably can't top them by much. Therefore, Republican officeholders, including senators who'd have to vote to convict after an impeachment, are highly unlikely to reject Trump regardless of the evidence, because rank-and-file Republicans won't abandon him. Everything that demonstrates collusion, obstruction, or corruption will be explained away, and the base will unquestioningly buy all those explanations. We on the left will be concerned with the facts; Trump and his media enablers will be targeting their fans' reptile brains, and that's likely to make all the difference.

It's still worthwhile to lay out the case against Trump, because if we can't get an impeachment and conviction, or a resignation, we'll have demonstrated why Trump should be resoundingly rejected at the polls in 2020. Non-Republicans will get the point even if Republicans don't.

But in the meantime, Trump will probably survive, because he usually does. He'll distort the facts. He'll assassinate the characters of his accusers. He doesn't need lawyers to do that.

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