Wednesday, December 11, 2019


On Twitter yesterday, I posted a link to this Jezebel post by Ashley Reece, about the somberness of the news conference where Democrats introduced their articles of impeachment:
A somber tone is certainly justified: House Democrats are mounting an impeachment proceeding against a sitting President who, despite alleged high crimes, bigotry, and overall buffoonery, is not nearly as unpopular as he should be. These proceedings come as election year quickly approaches without a clear candidate that a majority of Democrats feel enthusiastic about. So sure, swaggering bravado might not have been appropriate or at all realistic. But a little of that Rashida Tlaib “impeach the motherfucker” confidence—just a dash!—would have been preferable over whatever the hell is going on here.
Swagger works for Republicans. Swagger works for Trump. (For Trump, it's practically all he's got.) Just a tiny bit of swagger might have conveyed the notion that this is a good idea. Self-confidence is contagious -- isn't that what shy, insecure people are always told? People will have confidence in you if you exude confidence in yourself?

My tweet elicited a gloomy response:

I've pointed out several times why Nancy Pelosi wants a quick, narrow impeachment: She came around to impeachment because the most active, committed rank-and-file Democrats were becoming disaffected and less likely to give money or volunteer in 2020, but she needs it to be narrowly targeted and wrapped up soon because the swing voters who helped give Democrats the majority in 2018 don't approve. I guess that helps explain the lack of swagger as well as the haste and narrow focus.

But what happens after the quick trial and easy acquittal? Democratic voters will be demoralized -- for a while. Then I think they'll respond the way they responded just after the 2016 election: by redoubling their efforts to oust the MFer by electoral means, now that it's been established that impeachment doesn't work. The loss in the Senate will be a grievance; Republicans are the great sustainers of grievance, but they don't have a monopoly on grievance-nursing. Committed Democrats will do it, too.

Will the GOP base be energized? The GOP base is energized. It's nearly always energized. That's certainly the case in the Trump era -- the party's voters may not have turned out for downballot Republicans in 2018, but they've always been primed to vote for Trump. They can't be more energized than they already are. So I don't think this helps Trump.

What's important in the post-acquittal period is what Trump does. He'll feel unleashed -- and when Trump feels unleashed, he does just the kinds of things that alienate the majority of Americans. He'll be verbally obnoxious. He'll engage in more criminality and Constitution-defying behavior. Meanwhile, the other ongoing investigations will be wending their way slowly through the courts and the investigative process. Come November, Ukraine won't be the front-of-mind Trump scandal. Something else will take its place -- maybe several somethings. Trump can't help himself.

A few people will call for a second impeachment, held before the election -- but that will be deemed impossible. So the remedy will be Trump's defeat.

In other words, I think he'll sow the seeds for a massive push to vote him out. He still might win, of course. But he'll energize our base, and maybe alienate a few more swing voters. Trump unleashed might be our secret weapon heading toward November.

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