Tuesday, December 04, 2018


In The Atlantic, Mikhaila Fogel and Benjamin Wittes explain that the effort to bring Donald Trump to justice is a long, slow siege:
There is no house of cards. The dominoes will not fall if gently tipped. The administration is not going to come crashing down in response to any single day’s events. The architecture of Trump’s power is more robust than that.

We need to stop thinking of it as a fragile structure waiting for the right poke to fall in on itself. Think instead of the myriad investigations and legal proceedings surrounding the president as a multi-front siege on a walled city that is, in fact, relatively well fortified.

Siege warfare is not a matter of striking precisely the correct blow at the correct moment at a particular stone in the wall. It is a campaign of degradation over a substantial period of time.... the enemy army can encamp outside the walled city and blockade it without firing a shot. Over time, the walls and defending forces become degraded to such a degree that the invaders are able to scale the walls and sack the city.
Then how does this end?
When the walls are finally breached, how will we know that it really is the beginning of the end? Here’s a hint: The big one will not be a legal development, an indictment, or a plea. It will be a political development—that moment when the American political system decides not to tolerate the facts available to it any longer. What does that look like? It looks like impeachment. It looks like enough Republicans breaking with the president to seriously jeopardize his chances of renomination or reelection. The legal developments will degrade the walls. But only this sort of political battering ram can breach them.
I'm going to maintain my cynicism and say: In other words, we will never sack the walled city of Trump.

A siege can prevent supplies from reaching the besieged -- but one provision always gets through to Trump and his supporters: self-delusion. No matter what we do, we can never persuade a statistically significant percentage of Republican voters that Trump has done anything wrong. And because we can't do that, we're unlikely ever to arrive at a moment when twenty Republican senators will join with Democrats to convict Trump after an impeachment. Republican voters are also extremely unlikely to reject Trump in the 2020 primaries, or in the general election. This is probably true no matter how many revelations there are about Trump World misconduct, from however many directions. The siege can bombard Trump's walls with facts, but if self-delusion remains in ample supply, the facts won't put so much as a nick in the fortifications.

We'll have to beat Trump fair and square in 2020. The walls will stand at least until then.

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