Thursday, October 24, 2019


National Review editor Rich Lowry is right when he says, in a Politico column, that there won't be enough Republican votes to convict Trump in a Senate impeachment trial:
Republican senators will soon be receiving an invitation to tear apart the Republican Party ahead of the 2020 elections, and they are going to decline to accept it.

It’s a trope of pro-impeachment commentary that it should be simple for Republican senators to swap out President Donald Trump, who puts them in an awkward position every day, for Vice President Mike Pence, an upstanding Reagan conservative who could start with a fresh slate in the runup to the 2020 election.

This idea’s only flaw is that is entirely removed from reality.
I'm sure Lowry is right. I'm sure Republican senators will decline this invitation. But why? Lowry writes:
If Senate Republicans vote to remove Trump on anything like the current facts, even the worst possible interpretation of them, it would leave the GOP a smoldering ruin. It wouldn’t matter who the Democrats nominated for 2020. They could run Bernie Sanders on a ticket balanced by Elizabeth Warren and promise to make Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez secretary of the Treasury and Ilhan Omar secretary of Defense, and they’d still win.

A significant portion of the Republican Party would consider a Senate conviction of Trump a dastardly betrayal. Perhaps most would get over it, as partisan feelings kicked in around a national election, but not all. And so a party that has managed to win the popular vote in a presidential election only once since 1988 would hurtle toward November 2020 divided.

How does anyone think that would turn out?
So what Lowry is telling us is that, under these circumstances, Republican voters wouldn't vote for their own principles, their own policies, their own judges on the federal bench. Lowry -- who notes that the GOP "has managed to win the popular vote in a presidential election only once since 1988" -- sure has a lot of confidence in the broad popular appeal of his party, its philosophy, and its #2 officeholder.

Let's compare this to the last impeachment. Democrats (and the vast majority of Americans) didn't want Bill Clinton driven from office, but in 2000 we gave a popular-vote win to a ticket that included Joe Lieberman, a proud Clinton scold. Twenty-four years earlier, Republican voters nearly kept Gerald Ford in the White House, even though members of his party helped push Richard Nixon out the door.

Lowry writes:
Trump himself isn’t going to get convicted by the Senate and say, “Well, I’m a little disappointed in your judgment to be honest. But it was a close call, and Mike Pence is a great guy, and I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to serve this country in the White House for more than three years.”

He won’t go away quietly to lick his wounds. He won’t delete his Twitter account. He won’t make it easy on anyone. He will vent his anger and resentment at every opportunity. It will be “human scum” every single day.
In other words, we've entrusted the presidency to a man so emotionally and ideologically volatile that he'll be rooting for his own vice president to lose. This, needless to say, is a solid prediction. But it means that Lowry is saying to us, "How dare you ask us to remove this volatile nutjob from the ticket!"
And it’s not as though the media is going to lose its interest in the most luridly telegenic politician that we’ve ever seen. The mainstream press would be delighted to see Trump destroyed, yet sad to bid him farewell. The obvious way to square the circle would be to continue to give Trump lavish coverage in his post-presidency. He’d be out of the White House but still driving screaming CNN chyrons every other hour.
Trump could, of course, avoid this fate by lying low and allowing the public to forget about his existence for weeks on end. There'll be legal cases against him, but they'll grind on slowly. For the most part, he won't be covered if he's not saying or doing something worth covering.

But Lowry is implicitly acknowledging that Trump can't give up the spotlight. So Lowry is saying, "You'd better leave this pathologically narcissistic attention addict in the Oval Office!"
It’s possible to come up with a scenario in which Ukraine developments are much worse than it’s possible to imagine right now, and Trump’s support craters, even among Republicans. Then, you might have GOP senators voting to convict. This is just another path to the destruction of the party’s hopes in 2020, though, because there’s no way it would snap back from a Nixonian meltdown at the top in less than a year.
Translation: If we learn that Trump has done something even more egregious than what's been alleged against him so far, allegations that already have half of America believing he should be removed from office ... then he'll still be the strongest candidate Republicans can put up in 2020.

That hole is pretty deep, Rich. Stop digging.

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