Friday, November 08, 2019


I groaned when I saw this at Politico:

But Alberta knows that there won't be a mass rejection of Trump in the GOP.
There is a sizable number of Republican senators and representatives who believe Trump’s actions are at least theoretically impeachable, who believe a thorough fact-finding mission is necessary, who believe his removal from office is not an altogether radical idea.

But it’s also evident that, barring a plain admission of guilt by the president himself—think Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men—the Republican Party will not be forsaking Trump. He could lose a stray vote in the House, maybe even two, when articles of impeachment come to the floor. He could fare even worse in the Senate, knowing that more than a few of the 53 Republican jurors might be tempted etch their names in the history books at his expense. None of this will alter his standing atop the party; none of this will change the fact that he is president through January 2021 and perhaps beyond.
I think Republicans will stand by Trump even if he does plainly admit guilt. How hard is it to imagine that Trump himself, rather than Mick Mulvaney, might have blurted out that, yes, there was a quid pro quo and we should all get over it? After all, Trump told NBC's Lester Holt the real reason he fired James Comey. He got away with it, too. If Trump shoots someone on Fifth Avenue, congressional Republicans will probably begin questioning whether murder is really a crime.

Alberta tells us that Trump dreads embarrassment, so he wants the earth scorched at the first sign of disloyalty. When Florida GOP congressman Frank Rooney hinted that he might be receptive to impeachment, Trump's allies in Washington began to tarnish Rooney's reputation back home. Rooney responded to the fierce criticism by (a) announcing his resignation and (b) voting to oppose the impeachment inquiry, along with every other House Republican. It wasn't a horse's head in his bed, but it got the job done.

I'd imagine that the same kind of campaign could be successful if any Republican senators are considering a vote to convict, but Alberta isn't so sure. He thinks Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski might vote against the president, along with (perhaps) Cory Gardner (a purple-state senator who's up for reelection), Lamar Alexander (who's retiring), Ben Sasse (who criticizes the president occasionally), and maybe Pat Toomey and Rob Portman.

I don't see it, but Alberta says that "these are precisely the scenarios being bandied about by the president’s team—and on occasion, by Trump himself."

Alberta writes,
... there is a recognition among the president’s allies that his reelection campaign, not to mention his place in history, could be crippled by even the smallest clique of Republicans banding together and issuing what would be an institution-defining rebuke.
Why? Why do they believe this?

Trump voters won't be moved if some GOP senators vote to convict, or if, prior to that, a handful of GOP House members vote to impeach. Obviously, the MAGA base will never accept impeachment as legitimate. But even Trump's soft supporters wouldn't be moved by declarations from elected Republicans that Trump, regrettably, has committed impeachable acts. If you're a soft supporter of Trump -- maybe even someone who doesn't like him personally -- why do you support him at all? For a simple reason: He's not a Democrat. Nor is he (in the eyes of his voters) part of the "swamp." A Republican who joins with the "swamp Democrats" and votes to impeach or convict Trump would be seen as part of the swamp, too.

Trump backers simply won't be moved by appeals to higher principles. Negative partisanship is everything to them.

Impeachment might persuade a few fence-sitters not to vote for Trump next November -- and given the tightness of the margins in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, maybe that's good enough. It might reinforce opponents' sense of outrage, and thus drive Democratic turnout. And, of course, it's the right thing to do if we want to stand up for the rule of law.

But Trump's reelection campaign won't be "crippled" by impeachment. (And he'll go down in history as disgraceful no matter what.)

Maybe this is just what Trump retainers say to possible waverers in the House and Senate -- You don't want to help elect Elizabeth Warren, do you? -- because they've been tasked with ensuring that Trump isn't embarrassed by fellow Republicans. But if Trump is harmed by impeachment, it will be because people outside his base see his crimes brought to light. Nearly all of his voters, will stand by him, and it won't matter whether the GOP vote is 100% pro-Trump or 98% pro-Trump.

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