Thursday, January 23, 2020


Here's the latest from Martin Longman:
The Republicans Struggle to Keep Their Base in a Bubble

Fox News broadcast the first two hours of the impeachment trial on Wednesday in a normal manner, but after that, they turned off the sound:
Starting with The Five, the network’s early evening roundtable commentary show, and continuing throughout the evening, Fox News broadcast portions of screen-in-screen video of the trial. But instead of playing the audio, network hosts provided the normal Trumpian spin. So while someone who just looked at the screen may have concluded Fox News was covering the trial, in fact it wasn’t covering it at all.
Their post-truth business model couldn’t withstand the House Managers’ methodical destruction of their viewers’ hero, so this is telling but not at all surprising....

Meanwhile, the president was so desperate to distract his base from hearing the truth that he set a personal tweeting record.
As he flew back to Washington on Air Force One, Trump stirred up a veritable Twitter storm as he tweeted and retweeted messages primarily about impeachment, particularly from his Republican defenders—a barrage that marked the most tweets of any day of his presidency, with 142 as of 10 p.m., according to, a website that tracks Trump’s tweets and speeches.
Fox and the president want Americans to pay attention to anything other than the trial itself. At the same time, Republicans, as Greg Sargent notes, are determined to keep heretofore unrevealed truths from being exposed in the trial.
At one point [yesterday], [Adam] Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the team of House impeachment managers, asked GOP senators a question.

“The truth is going to come out,” Schiff said. “The only question is: Do you want to hear it now? Do you want to know the full truth now?”

... The truth, plainly, is that ... the fact that the votes on evidence and acquittal will come before any future revelations is a feature of doing it this way.

That’s because a vote for acquittal (which, again, is inevitable) before more damning revelations are unearthed is politically less costly than a vote for acquittal after any such revelations.
But is it? Would it really be more politically costly for Republicans to acquit if they had to do it following the disclosure of more information damaging to the president?

After all, Republican voters either don't believe that Trump is a criminal or believe he is one and don't care.
Seven in 10 Americans believe Donald Trump has definitely or probably done unethical things during his time in office or while he was running for president. And 63 percent think Trump has definitely or probably done things that are illegal. But only 51 percent believe the outcome of the Senate impeachment trial should be the president’s removal from office.

Those numbers come from a new in-depth survey by the Pew Research Center of 12,638 U.S. adults that was conducted from Jan. 6 to 19.

... 32 percent of Republicans say they think Trump has definitely or probably done things that broke the law....

But, but, but: Among the 1 in 3 Republicans who think Trump has likely done illegal things, 59 percent say he should remain in office. Another 38 percent say he should be removed.
So despite all the evidence we have so far, 68% of Republicans won't acknowledge that Trump has committed crimes -- and a majority of the remaining 32% believe he should remain president even though they think he has committed crimes.

So why are Fox and Trump even bothering to provide distractions from the presentation of evidence against Trump by House Democrats? Why the rejection of witnesses against the president? It seems likely that if GOP voters had been paying attention to the impeachment trial, or if more evidence were to emerge in the trial, those rank-and-file Republicans would be as unmoved as they are now.

But D.C. Republicans are clearly concerned. What this tells me is that they're less confident about Trump's reelection prospects than many Democrats are.

Ask a Democrat about 2020, and you'll be told: Yeah, Trump is unpopular, but Democratic voters will never unify, and there'll be voter suppression and Russian shenanigans. Even though the Democrat will probably beat Trump in the popular vote, Trump will likely get another Electoral College win.

Republicans clearly don't agree. It's obvious that even the most shocking revelation about Trump's Ukraine scandal will have only a minimal effect on his popularity among his base -- but Republicans aren't confident that he can spare very many defections. They probably also believe that Democrats could run the table and take the Senate if Trump is further discredited.

Personally, I believe that poll numbers would barely budge even if a smoking-gun audiotape were released in which a lawyer told Trump, "You can't put a freeze on the aid, Mr. President, because it's illegal," and Trump replied, "I don't care if it's illegal -- freeze the aid unless the Ukrainians help me take down Biden before the election." But Republicans apparently disagree.

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