Monday, January 14, 2019


Michael Tomasky believes that defeating Trump would be better than trying to impeach him, for an obvious reason:
For the moment, let’s presume that several months from now, Robert Mueller has given us evidence of obstruction, cooperation with Russians during the 2016 campaign and compelling evidence that Russian banks on some level “own” Mr. Trump. And that’s leaving aside everything investigators may be learning about the Trump Organization from Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg.

Let’s also assume that House Democrats will have done their work and, at a minimum, documented numerous and ghastly Trump family violations of the emoluments clause....

This is to say nothing of the instances of more banal forms of corruption Democrats may have unearthed through their own investigations this year that could rightly be called high crimes and misdemeanors....

There will then hang the question of whether 20 Senate Republicans — at least, assuming that all 47 Democrats would vote to convict — would actually agree to remove Mr. Trump from office. That seems exceedingly unlikely.
Tomasky addresses the question of principle:
But whether they would or would not, many would argue that Democrats would still have a constitutional responsibility to exercise. Impeachment is the only remedy the founders provided for removing from office someone who is clearly unfit to hold it.

If all of what I stipulated above happens and the Democrats don’t act, aren’t they saying the Constitution is meaningless? If you can’t impeach a president whose very election is found to have been illegitimate, then whom can you impeach? And how do you recover, as a country, from such a bitterly partisan episode?
His answer is that removing a president from office through electoral means is the other method provided by the Constitution for restoring proper order.

Charlie Pierce, among others, would disagree -- he believes that there's an obligation to impeach, regardless of the outcome.

I'll be the cynic here and say that that bus has left the depot. We didn't impeach over Iran-contra, and we didn't punish any decision-maker for the lies that led us into the Iraq War or the torture that took place during the Bush presidency, so we've already established that we'll frequently look the other way when impeachable offenses are committed by the Executive Branch.

I understand Tomasky's argument. I'm sympathetic to it -- why bother with impeachment if it won't rid us of the bum? But there's a circumstance under which I think impeachment could be both futile and strategically shrewd.

Once we have a fuller picture of Donald Trump's crimes, I hope it will be more obvious than it is now that Trump's continued presence in the Oval Office is abhorrent -- at least to non-Republicans.

Republican voters will probably still remain loyal no matter what we learn. Therefore, so will Republican officeholders. Few if any in the House will vote to impeach, and few if any in the Senate will be willing to convict.

You may think they'll come around, but remember the last two years of Bush -- everyone else in America knew that the Iraq War was a disaster, but Republicans stood firm, and only Ron Paul among the 2008 presidential candidates would deviate from the stay-in-Iraq-forever orthodoxy.

That could be what happens if there's an impeachment. By that time, America's centrist voters might have joined liberals in wanting to be rid of Trump -- but Republicans will almost certainly maintain their resistance.

That's when a failed conviction vote in the Senate would be useful. It would show America what the Republican Party is made of.

If we know that the public wants Trump removed and Republicans don't, we should dare Senate Republicans to reject the popular will. Then we'll remind America that the problem isn't just Trump -- it's a party that's rotten to the core.

If Trump's unfitness is obvious to everyone but Republicans, we should give Republicans the opportunity to show us they're on the wrong side of history. After that, if we're fortunate, it won't just be Trump who loses on the Republican line in 2020.

No comments: