Don’t Get Ahead of the Facts, Don’t Explain the Significance of a Document You Haven’t Seen and Read

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Michael Tomasky: Planning with a Straight Edge Ruler, Assuming the Continued Viability of the Cult of Trump

Right now, I have the sense that some of my progressive brethren and sistern are thinking as if they have been lobotomized. Over in the left brain, careful, fact-based conversations are going on, trying to project conditions into 2020 and beyond, on the assumption that nothing much will have changed by 2020 and beyond, and we will still be divided into the same warring tribes, of nearly equal sizes, each trying to vote the other into submission.

The latter phrase I owe to a fine article I just read. It’s by Michael Tomasky, it’s titled The Midterms: So Close, So Far Apart, and I believe it’s behind the pay wall of The New York Review of Books. (But then, if you don’t subscribe to The New York Review of Books, then you really should remedy that oversight.)

Tomasky does an excellent job of laying out a very guardedly optimistic picture, and includes some good thoughts on what Democrats might do to remedy the tribalism and gain some needed votes over in Trumpland. He focuses on agriculture, rural and small town development, and the opoid crisis. I would add in a coherent immigration policy.

But Tomasky, like many other left-brained thinkers, ignores whatever new crises are coming Trump’s way. Tomasky thinks House Democrats should investigate and expose all of Trump’s misdeeds, but should eschew impeachment, on the ground that it would surely fail in the Senate, and do more harm than good to progressives.

I, myself, have been of this view, until recent days. But recent developments, I believe, should cause us to begin to rethink this view. Cautiously, prudently, but fearlessly, where the facts take us.

Opining on an Unseen Document

My headline urges, Don’t [Try to or Pretend to] Explain the Significance of a Document You Haven’t Seen and Read. That document would be Trump’s written interrogatory response to Mueller, a document on which vast numbers of talking heads have opined, though none has seen it.

If Trump lied in writing to Mueller, on a matter where he clearly knew the truth but chose to prevaricate, then Trump would have committed a clear criminal violation. And that would be a significant change in the situation.

But did he lie? To have a fully informed opinion, we would need to see the exact words of the questions and scrutinize the exact words of the answers. The answers may have been carefully framed and they may have been ambiguous. We just don’t know till we read the document.

Wait for the Facts—But Think Ahead, Contingently

More generally, don’t get over your skis. Wait for the facts.

That said, it’s OK, it’s prudent, and it’s highly appropriate to think ahead about what to do if the facts turn out to be as clear and as damning as they probably will be.

So let’s not make a prediction. Instead, let’s do a thought experiment and assume, solely for the sake of the discussion, that the facts turn out to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that

  • Trump has acted in such a way as to supply kompromat to the Kremlin,
  • Putin has used that kompromat to affect Trump’s behavior, and that, accordingly,
  • Trump has willfully placed his personal business against ahead of American national interest,
  • Trump has committed perjury, e.g., in his written responses to Mueller, and that, as a general matter,
  • the Trump Organization is a criminal enterprise, engaged in money laundering and other felonious conduct.

then here’s what I say.

I say the House of Representatives has a duty to draw up articles of impeachment and to force a trial and a vote in the United States Senate.

And if there are senators who want to gaslight, who want to defend treason and financial corruption, and  want to cast a wholly unprincipled vote against impeachment, then they can just go ahead and do it.

Make my day.

For one thing, I think about one tenth to one fifth to one tenth of the 44.9 percent of our population who voted Republican in 2018 are not in the Cult of Trump, but voted Republican for other reasons.

Will that minority of the minority put up with Trump’s vile behavior? Yes, they will. Will they go for financial crime? Not so sure. How about proven treason? I don’t think so.

We need to peel those people off. And if we do peel those people off, then Republican voters are no longer 44.9 percent of the population. They are maybe 40 percent, maybe 38 percent, maybe even 35 percent.

And we vote them into submission.

Not forgetting, of course, to add in the rural redevelopment and opoid addiction treatment programs.