Counting Noses

counting noses

There are 53 Republican senators. As of this hour this afternoon,

Of those 53, 39 “have expressed no issues with Trump’s behavior” or have stated that they “disagree with the impeachment inquiry.”

The other 14 “have called for more information” or “have said or suggested that Trump’s actions were inappropriate.”

Truth and Consequences

Truth or Consequences

We Continue to Report, You Continue to Decide

David Brooks, Why Trump Voters Stick With Him: An imagined conversation with Flyover Man.

The Silence of the (Republican) Lambs (in the Senate)

Big dustup between two talking heads this morning, talking about the interesting events of the last 24 hours.

Said Talking Head Number One—pushing a common cliché, though in an uncommonly shrill tone: the Republican senators have stuck like glue to Trump through a multitude of his sins, and they will never, ever, in a million years, world without end, vote to remove him from office, no matter what, no matter what.

Said Talking Head Number Two: yes, but they’re mighty quiet today. In fact, their silence is deafening.

I do not propose to try to resolve this dispute. But let us assume, for the sake of the discussion, that the prediction made by Talking Head Number One comes true. Let us assume that the House impeaches Trump but the vote for removal fails in the Senate.

What are the consequences?

Well, there will be lots of consequences, of course, but here are a few of them.

First, Republican senators will have been forced to choose between

  1. continued silence, and a vote to keep Trump in office

or

  1. arguing stridently that it is OK to invite foreign interference in our elections and to back up that “invitation” with severe threats.

Second consequence: with the removal vote having failed, Trump will feel well and truly empowered to let his inner tinhorn dictator come to full flower.

Third consequence: Republican office holders, and especially Republican senators, will have to face the next election in the light of consequences one and two.

Tribal Kool-Aid—and the Constitution

Kool-Aid

In late September, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal post asked some questions about how voters liked (or disliked) Trump “personally”—and how that compared to their positive or negative views about “his policies.” Here is what they found:

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 12.21.14 PM

The headline that came out of the poll was that 29 percent of us like Trump while 69 percent of us hate his guts—though about two fifths of those who hate his guts nevertheless “approve of most of his policies.”

Interestingly, however, the number of us who like him personally and “approve of most of his policies is only 25 percent.”

Now let us roll the tape forward from late September to today, and what, ladies and germs, do we find? Well, in the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll we find lots of things, including this little nugget: “A majority of voters support Congress’ current impeachment proceedings, but nearly a quarter say there is nothing President Trump could do that would cause them to support impeaching him and removing him from office, including 49 percent of Republicans.”

Are these 24 percent of voters essentially the same folks as the 25 percent of voters who say they like Trump personally and approve of what he is doing?

Yes, ladies and germs, these are the selfsame folks. They are the unregenerate tribalists, the folks who have drunk the Kool-Aid, the folks who are still going to keep on drinking the Kool-Aid, come what may.

So now we know.

And here is something else we know. To date, all of Trump’s defenses rest on appeals to tribalism. Trump’s argument boils down to “It’s not impeachable if I do it, because l’etat c’est moi.” And he doesn’t just imply that. He’s saying it in words of one syllable. Over and over. Very loudly.

Meanwhile, a large number of Republican and independent voters are pretty clearly open to hearing a debate along the lines of the Clinton impeachment debate: maybe it was bad, but was it impeachably bad? And where are we going to draw that line?

Logically, that is the argument we should be having. And perhaps it the argument we will be having.

But for now, as long as we are not even having that debate, the pragmatic case for and against impeachment boils down to,

Does the fact that one quarter of our population do not give a flying fuck about the Constitution mean that the rest of us should just give up on the Republic and let him run amok until the next election?