Monday, June 03, 2019


Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post's editorial page editor, believes that the impeachment power written into the Constitution shouldn't be used if a transparently bad person is elected president.
We knew who Trump was but elected him anyway. We can’t impeach him for that.

... The strongest argument for impeachment may be that Trump is unfit for office. He lies; he divides; he flouts constitutional norms, embraces dictators and spews hateful rhetoric. He is ignorant and impetuous, temperamentally and philosophically unfit.

All true. In fact, our editorial board said as much when he was nominated in 2016. “Uniquely unqualified to serve as president,” we wrote. “A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.”

I think we’ve been proved right. But that is precisely the point: We thought his unfitness was evident before he was elected, and Americans chose him anyway. (No, he didn’t win the popular vote. But he won.) He is endangering the future of the planet — but we knew he was a climate denier. He ripped children from their parents at the border — but his racism and anti-immigrant animus, like his contempt for the Constitution, were no secrets.

To impeach him now for what the electorate welcomed or was willing to overlook isn’t the democratic response. The right response is to defeat him in 2020.
Hiatt is right about one thing: It isn't the democratic response. It's the constitutional response. The Framers gave us impeachment as well as elections. They wouldn't have give us the former if they thought the answer to every bad president was to wait for another election cycle.

Hiatt talks about what voters knew about Trump's character and opinions going into the 2016 election. But what else did voters know -- or think they knew -- before Election Day that year? Here's something quite a few voters thought they knew, because many Very Smart People said it, among them star Hiatt columnist and nationally syndicated pundit Kathleen Parker, writing four days before Election Day:
Thanks to the brilliance of our tripartite government, nobody gets to be dictator. And despite what nearly everyone seems to believe, our “broken government” works pretty well most of the time.

If Trump wins, he’ll be held more or less in check by the House and Senate because that’s the way our system of government is set up. Not even Republicans are eager to follow Trump’s lead.

There won’t be a wall. He won’t impose any religion-based immigration restrictions, because even Trump isn’t that lame-brained. He’ll dress up and behave at state dinners and be funny when called upon. He’ll even invite the media to the White House holiday party. He won’t nuke Iran for rude gestures. He won’t assault women. He and Vladimir Putin will hate each other, respectfully.
That's what a lot of voters believed: that Trump could be trusted because institutions, norms, and "guardrails" would hold him in check. They were also told that he'd "grow in office," that a day would come a few weeks or months into his term when he'd put away childish things and "become president."

So if Hiatt wants to argue that we knew what Trump was like on the campaign trail, he needs to answer for the fact that his profession told us that Trump was just putting on an act, and even if he wasn't, the grown-ups would still be in charge.

He wasn't. They're not. So it would be justice to impeach him and remove him from office.

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