Thursday, January 16, 2020


We won't have a press corps capable of reckoning with what the modern Republican Party has done to America until our journalists and pundits stop thinking the way Bloomberg's Jonathan Bernstein thinks about the impeachment of President Trump:
... the danger for Republicans is pretty obvious.... As someone said Wednesday evening on Twitter, Republican senators don’t even know what they’re covering up for, or at least what they would be covering up for if they follow the White House’s preference to rush through the Senate impeachment trial that starts next week and refuse to hear from relevant witnesses and collect relevant documents.

Some of those senators, to be sure, just don’t care. They’ve decided they can live with (both politically and ethically) any revelations that may come down the road — that no one who they care about will hold them accountable for burying important evidence, no matter what it turns out to be. Others may really be so fully inside the conservative information-feedback loop that they sincerely think that Trump is an honest, innocent man being railroaded by partisans; they may not even be aware of the considerable evidence to the contrary.

But for anyone else? As I said just 24 hours and a couple rounds of ugly revelations ago: “If new ugly details are still emerging, who’s to say that more won’t turn up later?”
I have news for Bernstein: Among Republican senators, there isn't "anyone else." There are some who believe Trump is being wrongly accused and others who have doubts about of his innocence but believe -- correctly -- that there will be no consequences for them if they ram through an acquittal, no matter what is ultimately revealed about him. They know that he'll retain the support of roughly 40% of the country no matter what he does, or what he's demonstrated to have already done. They know that GOP voter unity will save nearly all Republicans in red states and districts under any circumstances, as it saved downballot Republicans in the last year's Kentucky elections even as an unpopular Republican governor went down to defeat. They know that Republicans in swing states and districts have a good shot at survival if they appease moderate voters by making token gestures toward a fair trial in the Senate. And they know that Republicans bounce back quickly from even the worst defeats -- see the big gains in the midterms two years after Barry Goldwater's loss, or the Tea Party comeback two years after George W. Bush left office in disgrace.

Bernstein adds:
... Republican senators should factor into their considerations the institutional and personal self-interest they have in keeping constraints on the presidency in general and this president in particular. Allow him to treat impeachment as a joke, and both he and all future presidents will be more likely to treat the threat of future impeachments as minor inconveniences.
That's just silly. If Trump is easily acquitted and a future Republican president takes full advantage, congressional Republicans will be fine with that, too. On the other hand, if a future Democratic president thinks Trump's acquittal confers the ability to flout the law with impunity, he or she will be quickly restrained. Congressional Republicans (and the media) will exercise a blatant double standard. Behavior that was tolerated coming from Trump simply won't be tolerated from a Democrat.

The rot runs deep. People who get paid to write about politics ought to understand that.

No comments: