Monday, April 22, 2019

Impeachment-- The Politics


Yesterday, Charles Blow, noting that obstruction of justice is a crime, asked-- rhetorically-- if Trump should be impeached. Everyone of the left agrees that the Mueller report is "a damning document" that details "Russian efforts to attack our election to help the Trump campaign and the Trump campaign’s eager acceptance of that help, it paints a picture of Donald Trump as an unethical man with no regard for the rule of law. In this report, we see a president who doesn’t deserve to be president. We see attempts over and over to obstruct justice, which in some cases succeed." Blow wants his readers to confront something: "What are we going to do about it? Obstruction of justice is a crime. If Trump committed that crime, he’s a criminal. Are we simply going to allow a criminal to sit in the Oval Office and face no consequence? Are we simply going to let the next presidential election be the point at which Trump is punished or rewarded?"

That's what Steny Hoyer-- echoing Nancy "Off the Table" Pelosi-- explicitly said on CNN last week: "Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months, and the American people will make a judgment."

Blow begs to differ. "It is maddening to think that we are at such a pass. But, my mind is made up: I say impeach him." Like all of us, he's heard all the arguments against going forward
Even if the House voted to impeach Trump, the Senate would never vote to convict and remove him. This is the “failed impeachment” theory.
An impeachment would be contentious and increase public support for Trump the way it did for Bill Clinton.
House Democrats, at least the leadership, are afraid of looking like they have a blood lust and inadvertently increasing Trump’s chances of re-election.
Blow knocks each argument down-- "there is no such thing as a failed impeachment. Impeachment exists separately from removal. Impeachment in the House is akin to an indictment, with the trial, which could convict and remove, taking place in the Senate. The Senate has never once voted to convict... [A]an impeachment vote in the House has, to this point, been the strongest rebuke America is willing to give a president. I can think of no president who has earned this rebuke more than the current one. And, once a president is impeached, he is forever marked. It is a chastisement unto itself. It is the People’s House making a stand for its people.

As for increasing public support for Trump: poppycock-- nonsense, rubbish, garbage, claptrap, balderdash, blather, blether, moonshine... "Clinton’s approval was subject to change in a way Trump’s is not. Clinton experienced a 40-point swing in his approval over his presidency, according to Gallup. Trump’s seems almost impervious to change, no matter the news. People either love Trump or hate him. Impeachment will most likely not change that any more than Trump seeing fine people among Nazis or locking children in cages. Furthermore, Clinton jumped 10 points, from 63 percent 73 percent, just after the House voted to impeach him. But, five month later, those gains had vanished and then some. His approval rating sank to 53 percent.

As for the Pelosi/Hoyer fear and trepidation-- largely on behalf of cowardly, careerist New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- Blow reminds his readers that "Senate Republicans are worried about getting on the wrong side of the Republican base" even if they know-- like Romney said on Friday-- that Trump's part in this is sickening, perverse and dishonest. These admonitions on the part of the GOP are idle-- "as toothless as a baby’s mouth."
Folks, this is not the 1990s. Until 1996, CNN was the only cable news network. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn’t exist. Google wasn’t founded until 1998. Cellphones were in their infancy, and few people had them.

...I’m afraid of lawlessness and the horrible precedent it would set if Congress does nothing.

...[Elizabeth Warren:] “To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.”

I worry that inaction enshrines that idea that the American president is above America’s laws. I worry that silent acquiescence bends our democracy toward monarchy, or dictatorship.

As Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “In America the law is king.” He continued: “For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

Who will we let be king in this country, the president or the law?
I want to point to a Tweet-stream from Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent this morning. He senses that top Dems are moving "past their initial moral and political muddle and are now leaning into seriously debating whether the shocking scale of Trump's corruption and wrongdoing calls for an impeachment inquiry on the merits." His points:
Mueller said presidents can break obstruction statutes so "only Congress can decide whether Trump will be subject to a process in which he can be held accountable. Thus, not launching an inquiry places him above the law.
Pelosi's insistence that Democrats can't move forward without Republican agreement "allows Republicans to dictate that the impeachment question isn't worth a serious effort to answer at the outset. Funny how much like the Republican posture Hoyer sounds.
The absurd idea that the "Clinton precedent shows risks of overreach presupposes:
a- Democrats can't win this argument over time, and
b- the public can't distinguish between cases in which an inquiry is or is not merited.
There are the very real dangers attendant on doing nothing, suggesting "Dems are sorely lacking in conviction and, well, guts. It could validate more Trumpian abuses of power-- further endangering the country."
All of this will be heavily debated in coming days and weeks. But one thing is now clear: Dems plainly recognize that none of these basic realities embodied in this difficult dilemma can be wished away, and if anything, will only grow more pressing.

Over the weekend, in New Hampshire, Senator Warren admitted that she knows "people say this is politically charged and we shouldn’t go there, and that there is an election coming up, but there are some things that are bigger than politics." BINGO! Monday, at Popular Information, Judd Legum pointed out that "Warren makes a compelling argument that if Trump committed an impeachable offense, Congress should impeach him, regardless of how it might impact the next election. But the elite consensus that the politics impeachment would politically benefit Trump is also misguided."
The theory is that, if the House forgoes impeachment, the issue will fade to the background and Democrats will be able to focus on health care and other issues where they have a decisive advantage over Republicans. But regardless of what the Democrats do, Trump and his allies plan on keeping the Mueller investigation in the spotlight. Attorney General Bill Barr has already revealed that he is undertaking an inquiry into how the investigation began-- something that Trump has repeatedly demanded. Senate Republicans are likely to hold hearings on similar issues.

So the issue isn't going away regardless. The question is whether the focus will be on Republican conspiracy theories about Robert Mueller (a lifelong Republican appointed by George W. Bush) or the actual contents of the investigation. It's far from certain that Trump aides like former White House counsel Don McGahn, testifying about Trump's efforts to obstruct justice will benefit Trump electorally.

Trump is likely to use any decision not to impeach as proof that the Mueller report "exonerated" him-- even though that is not true.

Finally, pursuing impeachment doesn't foreclose Democrats' ability to talk about health care, or income inequality, or whatever other policy issues Democrats want to highlight. A national campaign is about many things, and the idea that it will either be about impeachment or policy issues is a gross oversimplification.

The Wall Street Journal's Joshua Jamerson and Ken Thomas, writing this morning, pointed to the divergence between Elizabeth Warren's flat-out call for impeachment and that of the other Democratic candidates. "Booker doesn’t want it on the table yet. Many, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, say Congress’s investigations should continue. Mayor Pete Buttigieg says the ultimate arbiter should be the voters. Democratic presidential hopefuls are calibrating how to respond to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report amid concerns the issue could backfire with swing voters and drown out their broader agendas... Some candidates are leaving the door open to impeachment, including former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, who said Friday on CNN it was 'perfectly reasonable' to pursue that avenue now. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Eric Swalwell of California have said impeachment shouldn’t be taken off the table. Other presidential hopefuls have been more cautious. Asked if impeachment should be on the table at this point, Mr. Booker of New Jersey told reporters: 'No.' Like other candidates skeptical of impeachment, Mr. Booker, who spent several days in the early-voting state of Nevada after the report dropped, called on Mr. Mueller to testify and for congressional probes to continue. Sen. Kamala Harris of California called for the same in an appearances in South Carolina over the weekend. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who may announce a White House bid as soon as this week, has yet to weigh in since the report’s release."

Biden, no doubt is polling and focus group-testing to find out where he "stands." McKinsey Pete was in New Hampshire on Friday, where he said that impeachment was less important to him than for "this president to be rejected powerfully at the ballot box, and that’s going to be my project as a presidential candidate." All those years at McKinsey makes him sound so good, doesn't it?

Jamerson and Thomas concluded their article by noting that "The risk of overemphasizing impeachment and Mr. Mueller’s findings is likely to heighten for Democrats once the primary ends and the eventual nominee goes head-to-head with Mr. Trump, according to Democratic strategists and operatives, as well as some of the candidates themselves.
Some Republicans are betting that Democrats will overplay their hand.

“People are really ready to move on,” said Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist in Pennsylvania. “I don’t know how many people are sitting down at their kitchen table and will read through the Mueller report. I do think many are sitting down and talking about if their kids are going to be better off than they are.”

...James Fallon, a 70-year-old retired special-education teacher who listened to Ms. Warren’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire, said he supported pursuing impeachment. He described Ms. Warren as his second choice behind Mr. Sanders, who has stopped short of calling for impeachment.

“I don’t know what he’s waiting for,” Mr. Fallon said of the Vermont senator. “People say it’s too disruptive. This presidency is too disruptive. I don’t think we need to go through two more years of this.”

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At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

". . . there is an election in 18 months, and the American people will make a judgment.""

Mitch McTurtle said something like this when Obama wanted to replace Scalia with Garland. NO ONE DID ANYTHING WHEN HE BLOCKED THIS NOMINATION.

I guess this is now the rule. No one do anything to replace any Federal abuser of the law because we will have another election in 2/4/6 years and The People can express themselves.

Why the hell do we need representatives if We the People have to do all of the work anyway? How about we abolish the congress (and their lavish retirements) and just run the nation via public plebiscite?

At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

asking the wrong questions as usual... and getting the answers wrong too.

trump deserved to be impeached before and during the Mueller inquiry. The report only multiplies the reasons, even though Mueller, as was probably his job, failed to conclude that 1 + 1 = 2... again (see: anthrax investigation).

1) emoluments. period. this is impeachable, is already well known. If the Nazis fail to convict on this, they admit to their idiot voters that they don't give a shit about the constitution. This will lose them a few of their more strident voters.

2) obstruction. period. this is an actual crime. he admitted it... hell, he boasted about it. it's on the record. won't lose any voters, but it won't win him any sympathy among the squishiest of voters.

3) even if no legal case can be made about conspiring with Russians, it sure as hell can be made into a national security issue. And the president compromising national security to win an election? There are some Nazi voters that won't much care for this.

4) Even if it isn't criminal, a good long testimony about what trump demanded of his team of sheep and why they refused to follow his orders would make some nifty teevee (John Oliver already did it pretty well). it would show his fucking Nazi voters just what a steaming pile of fucktard they all signed on with. Conclusion: incompetence and stupidity should be grounds for impeachment too.

5) Elizabeth Warren started this, but it needs to be finished. The case needs to be made so that it becomes even more stark (if that's even possible after 40 years) that the democraps are worthless, feckless, corrupt, lying political cowards for NOT impeaching. DWT could go on a crusade, but it won't. Warren could make it the lynchpin of her campaign... AS AN INDEPENDENT. Bernie could also, except he's waffling. Marianne Williamson? Somebody needs to repudiate the PARTY and run Green or alone... and make the democrap PARTY finally pay for their 4 decades of betrayals. Whomever it is won't win, but it should peel off up to half of their idiot voters.

6) I have no idea why nobody walks this down the path even a few yards... but at some point won't the Nazis just agree that trump is so bad that they might agree to convict? Just to make their guy in 2020 be pence instead of trump? Or if they think pence's holier than thou won't win... maybe they can find another. A good trial with months of testimony on what a total fuckup trump is (and his family too... little Donnie fuckup and Kushner could see indictments out of this) might be too exhausting for trump and his idiot voters. He might resign. Or, like I said, maybe the senate Nazis will just get tired of it all.

"Who will we let be king in this country, the president or the law? "

We already decided this. money is king, queen and emperor. money names its princes and we all worship all the money's princes. the president is one prince that we delude ourselves that we actually chose. We only affirmed one of the two money-vetted princes that the money offers us. We're so stupid we think we actually chose him/her/it.


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