Relax And Stop Pining For Impeachment
You know what I don’t get? On this 120-ish day of the Trump Presidency, his administration is running around like a chicken without a head, a Special Prosecutor (a good one!) has been appointed to excavate Trump’s sordid Russia stuff, yet most of what I hear in the liberal circles has to do with the tenuous likelihood of impeachment. The pessimism is puzzling. Right now, the Democrats are in as good a position as they’ve been since the election, and impeachment — much less a successful one — is probably the last thing we want.
It’s possible that the Special Prosecutor and the impeachment process also bring down Pence. In that case, we get President Ryan. That’s a slightly less of a nightmare scenario than President Pence, but only slightly. I say that because Ryan’s interest is primarily in eliminating the entirety of the country’s safety net, established since the New Deal, but he’s less keen on kneecapping the press or establishing a theocracy than Trump or Pence — which is not to say that his administration wouldn’t throw red meat to the evangelical crowd or undermine civil rights in order to appease the Republicans’ racist, misogynist, xenophobic base.
If impeachment benefits anyone, it would the Republicans. For Republicans in Congress and in state houses, the best way out of this quagmire would be for Trump to just stop being President, one way or another.
The ideal scenario, of course, would involve Trump simply resigning. Alas, this almost certainly won’t happen, for no matter how much Trump hates being President, and how much he may privately regret getting into this whole mess, he’s too much of a narcissist to quit under pressure. He’s also too much of a narcissist to put the reputation of the Republican Party or the conservative movement above his own. And, even a man as stupid and as divorced from reality as Trump can grasp, however dimly, that resigning would be tantamount to admitting defeat, and no amount of spin would change that.
If Trump were to die or become incapacitated, this would serve Repubicans equally well.
Impeachment is a harder lift, since it would require Republican votes in both houses of Congress and would absolutely infuriate Trump’s loyal base of supporters. It would provoke a huge backlash — not in favor of Democrats, of course, but in favor of some new anti-establishment politicians well to the right of even today’s Insanity Caucus; and inpresidential elections in 2020, a candidate to the right of Trump.
For the Democrats and the progressive movement, the ideal course of events, given our present situation, is for scandals to continue in a drip-drip-drip fashion, with weekly or so bombshell revelations. Those scandals, along with Trump’s erratic behavior and cretinous tweets, will gum up the works in Congress and make it much harder for Republicans to get their wish list become a reality. Sure, they will still pass terrible legislation, and Trump will do tremendous damage to the country in the process. We will probably have a government shut-down, for real this time, and this time, it will hurt. But even with all that, it’s still going to be better than if we get President Pence or President Ryan. So: keep up the pressure on Trump, keep him outraged and distracted. Hopefully, he’ll keep doing his thing and not have a massive stroke from the stress (in which case we get Acting President Pence).
As long as Trump is in office, his entourage, however it’s constituted, and Republican politicians will try to reign him in. It will all be in vain. Trump will not change. He will not pivot. He will not do what is in his best interest, much less the Party’s or the country’s. After every Twitter meltdown, his minders will sit him down and give him a talking to. He’ll be on his best behavior for a day, then go back to tantruming and incriminating himself and others. There is no way to force discipline on an old man with the attention span of a beagle, who has never in his life had to be responsible to anybody, for anything.
It’s not impossible, I suppose, that time and habit may normalize Trump’s governing style. More likely, however, the longer he remains at the helm, the more damage he will do to the Republican Party — and Republicans, at least those capable of making brain waves, damned well know it. Trump still has his loyal base of supporters, who will vote for him even if they don’t like what he’s doing and for Republicans down the line, as well as reluctant supporters who will sit out elections rather than vote Democrat, but even Trumplandia will eventually get tired of the constant outrage rollercoaster that is the Trump administration — perhaps not in 2020, but probably by 2024. The very things that have endeared Trump to the yokels — his unpredictability, his know-nothing brashness, his trolling of liberals and sane people, his reality TV antics — even the yokels will get tired of this shit. You’ll see. The thought of Trump winning a second term — a very likely possibility — is sickening, no doubt, but the long-term consequences are very bad for the conservative movement. The longer Trump is president, the more the Republican Party owns Trump, and the more likely his legacy will be viewed as the Republican legacy for generations to come. The window of plausible deniability is getting narrower by the tweet.
People who read my blog regularly know my penchant for doom and gloom. It is not like me to be optimistic. So it means a lot coming from someone like me that there is realistic hope this whole Trump fiasco will turn out okay for progressivism. Republicans right now are in a terrible position — damned if they keep backing Trump and damned if they turn on him. I only hope the Democrats in government can see this — and exploit it to their greatest advantage. Keep facilitating Trump’s habit of making a fool of himself. Obstruct and delay. Forget nothing. Make every minute of every day in the lives of Republican lawmakers a living hell.
It’ll pay off, and not in the way that the Trumpistas keep assuring us.
P.S.: In amusing news this week
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is resigning from Congress on June 30, and his Republican colleagues, whose motives are always as pure as driven snow, are reportedly urging him to relinquish his position on the House Oversight Committee immediately. Quelle surprise. They’d really want that, wouldn’t they? Ostensibly the reason is something something administrative efficiency blah blah blah dun wanna change horses midstream bullshit bullshit bullshit, but anyone with a functioning brain can see what the real concern is: that a Congressman who is leaving imminently, not seeking reelection and is therefore no longer accountable to the moods of his deranged constituents or the demands of the party leadership, may stop being a partisan hack for five weeks. That Chaffetz may actually do his job like an honest man for a change is a real danger for his colleages in the house.
At least one Republican mused to POLITICO that Chaffetz’s continued chairmanship could create a conflict given his possible future endeavors in television.
Oh, sure: NOW they are worried about conflicts of interest.
UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that I said nothing about foreign policy in this post. It’s quite clear that to the extent Trump has tried to accomplish anything in that department, it was to promote Russia’s interests to the detriment of the US’. It’s easy and tempting to assume that Pence would be a better president at least as far as foreign policy is concerned. I don’t know that this is necessarily true. Pence, has, after all, hitched his star to Trump’s wagon, and it is therefore entirely possible he works for Russia as much as his boss. To the extent that he is a religious fundamentalist, he would be naturally attracted to clericalist dictatorships and repulsed by liberal, secular democracies — and I think that if religious fundamentalism and political pragmatism had a battle for Pence’s soul, the former would win. He would, of course, be more polite towards our soon-to-be-former allies.