On the Relationship Among Hard Political Data, Stone Cold Political Calculus, Ukrainian “Drug Deals,” and Rational Arguments


Greg Sargent, John Bolton’s eruption shows that Trump’s defenses are collapsing

Well, one would certainly hope so—though both Mr. Sargent and Mr. Sargent’s headline writer strike me as just a tad optimistic. So let us unanimously resolve to avoid premature declarations of victory. And to drink no champagne before its time.

And let us also dig a little deeper.

Where the Kool-Aid Addicts are a Clear Majority

I assume your general familiarity with my immediately preceding post. There, looking at the Republican senators up for reelection in 2020, I pointed out that in each relevant states, support for Trump has suffered a massive loss since he took office. Nevertheless, in many “red” states, it appears that very hard core Trump supporters remain in the majority.

In those states, I assume, the senators’ knees will jerk, and they will vote for acquittal, no matter what. (It’s metaphysically possible that some such senator will have a Damascus Road experience and decide to commit political seppuku, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.)

Where the Kool-Aid Addicts are Only a Big Minority

In other states represented by Republican senators, Trump has done such a marvelous job of pissing off every reasonable person that the hard core Kool-Aid addicts are now only a significant minority. And Trump’s approval hovers at, say, +1 or -2.

There, a vote to convict and remove would pretty much guarantee a primary loss. While a vote to acquit would pretty much guarantee a loss in the general election—especially given the way things are going.

When Considerations of Amoral Political Expediency Yield an Indeterminate Result

If you are a Republican senator from a swing state, deciding whether to vote to convict or to acquit on the basis of pure political expediency does not work. Each alternative is politically inexpedient in the extreme.

Given that circumstance, they could always vote their conscience.

Please hold that thought for ten seconds and then let us move on.

Here, Ladies and Germs, is Where Actual Arguments Might Come into Play

Republican senators in swing states would love to be able to argue, a la Clinton, that “yes, it was pretty bad, but it wasn’t impeachable.” They will be driven to articulating such a talking point by an irresistible compulsion as great as the impulse that drives a herd of lemmings to jump off a cliff.

But here’s the problem.

Nada, Rien, Bupkis, Zilch, Zippo

Donald J. Trump, who insists on controlling his own messaging, does not know the difference between a superficially plausible argument and the crazed cry of a wounded animal.

Donald J. Trump is giving his peeps nothing to work with.