Zombies

zombies

With public impeachment hearings yet to come, according to the Washington Post this morning, Americans sharply divided over whether to impeach and remove Trump from office, Post-ABC poll finds:

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I wish to draw your attention to the percentage who think “Trump did nothing wrong.” That would be 35 percent. Not 43 percent. Not 40 or 41 percent.

It’s 35 percent who still buy into Trump’s alternate universe.

35 percent, or something close to it, could well be Trump’s floor of support. Or the floor could be just a little lower than that. I don’t think it matters.

You will also note that 55 percent say he did something wrong, but some of them say it wasn’t that serious.

And ten percent of our population are out to lunch.

Ask yourself two questions. Are public hearings likely feature anything, anything at all, that will move the numbers in Trump’s favor? And are public hearings likely to provide information tending to make Trump’s position worse, in the public mind?

Meanwhile—even before public hearings, 18 percent of self-declared Republicans have concluded that Trump ought to be impeached and removed from office:

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In Poll warning for Trump and Republicans: Danger ahead, Jennifer Rubin provides commentary and additional detail. She observes,

If they drill down on Trump’s approval numbers, Republicans might go into full panic mode. His approval numbers are atrocious among women (31/64), white college graduates (38/61), women college graduates (32/67), suburban dwellers (41/56) and independents (38/57). Among suburban women he trails 33 to 63 percent. He is surviving almost entirely on white evangelicals (74/23). …

All in all, if Republicans ever break free of their irrational fear of Trump and his base …, they might recognize that saving him is becoming incompatible with saving themselves.

Aardvark’s Animadversion

True. How very true. But what Ms. Rubin does not wish to point out—because Ms. Rubin is about as tendentious as a pundit can be—is that, as long as a very large portion of their constituency still lives in Neverneverland, deep-sixing Trump is also “incompatible with saving themselves.”

As I have said before, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They are the walking dead.

Sargent Weighs In

In The GOP defense of Trump is getting more corrupt. Here’s what’s next, Greg Sargent lets us know “What Trump wants from the Republicans”:

But the ultimate complication for the GOP might come from Trump himself. I submit that when Trump rage-tweets that we should “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” and threatens to read it aloud on television, it signals where he’d really like this to end up: With Republicans unabashedly defending what he actually did do.

In other words, Trump wants Republicans to say: Trump was damn right to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, because Biden is corrupt. Trump himself has at times unabashedly told reporters that, yes, Ukraine should investigate Biden.

Trump has toggled between that and hiding behind his generic “corruption” claim, probably because his advisers told him the latter is safer. But I guarantee you his instinct is to go all the way.

Trump regularly calls on Republicans to fight to “win.” He wants them to throw aside any squeamishness about using all the tools at their disposal — including over the manipulation of our foreign policy and large swaths of the federal government — toward that end. Everybody is corrupt; it goes without saying that Biden and Democrats are; all that matters is who manipulates the rules more skillfully, and as a result, triumphs.

I don’t know whether Trump will end up going quite this far. But as more corruption is documented, Republicans will find it harder and harder to explain away — even as Trump’s demands that they go all-in behind that worsening picture of corruption grow louder and more insistent.

Aardvark’s Animadversion

Like I said, folks.

Dead men walking.

A Slogan for the Democrats?

in your guts

Once upon a time, Jennifer Rubin spent her days licking Mitt Romney’s boots. Today, she has gifted Democrats with three similar slogans: “Stop the Craziness,” or, if you want it a little succincter, “Stop the Crazy” or “End the Crazy.” The latter two, she observes, could fit on a hat.

Nine paragraphs into her post, Ms. Rubin arrives at the nub of the matter. I agree with her—and I think the vital point she makes needs to be more at the top of our minds. She writes,

This is crucial: It’s one thing to be mean and corrupt.  His defenders say lots of politicians are. It is quite another to say he’s so erratic, so unhinged, so crazy that he sends the economy into a tailspin and risks international conflict (or capitulation to enemies  such as Kim Jong Un, who Trump — crazily — believes likes him). Tying Trump’s unfitness to dangers to the country and to voters’ personal safety and prosperity should be a key objective for the eventual nominee. Unlike in 2016, “Crazy Trump” doesn’t make a moral judgment. It’s a statement of fact, a highly inconvenient fact for his apologists.

Some days ago, I saw a post by someone else entitled “Why Evangelicals Like the Worst Things about Trump,” or something like that. I thought then, and I think now, that the headline was based on an incorrect premise. Trump’s corruption, racism, and vulgarity are very bad things. And these are the things that some people who believe themselves to be Christian like about Trump. But they are not the very worst thing about Trump. The very worst thing about Trump is that he is a lunatic—a toddler playing with matches down in the basement of a wooden building.

You may think a corrupt, racist bully is someone who is “strong” and is going to “protect” you. You are less likely to think that of someone who is just batshit crazy. You can keep your racism, and you can still get an organism as you fondle your assault rifle, but still recognize that batshit craziness is not an appropriation for the leader of your tribe.

All that said, I am not much enamored of Ms. Rubin’s specific slogan suggestions. I think we can do a little better. Right this minute, the best hat I can think of would say “Had enough?” and have an appropriate picture. But I will continue to think about the issue of Democratsc slogans in my spare time. And I encourage you to do the same.

had enough

The Chosen One

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Through the thick fog that perennially engulfs his frontal lobe, Rich Lowry has perceived a vague glimmer that people are getting sick and tired of Trump’s horseshit. This a matter of some concern to Mr. Lowry, because it poses a threat to the plutocratic agenda.

Jennifer Rubin is concerned that the President of the United States is batshit crazy, and is getting crazier by the day.

And, by the way, Trump is coming for the Jews. They are disloyal.

One is Simply Wrong; the Other, Complexly Wrong

wrong way

Simply Wrong

Jennifer Rubin, Here’s how staunch progressives can win the hearts of Never Trumpers

Her answer to the question she posed? Endorse 14 procedural ideas. E. g., “Report to the House and Senate intelligence committees deviations from the normal security-clearance process on behalf of senior officials.” And “Repudiate use of executive orders designed to sidestep or avoid court rulings.”

Just do this sort of thing, and the Never Trumpers will cheerfully vote for a progressive Democrat.

Silly, silly column. But I suppose everyone is entitled to an off day.

Complexly Wrong

Harry Olsen, Yes, Trump’s tweets are offensive. But there’s one big reason Republicans stand behind him.

And that reason is … Drumroll …

Trump’s primary appeal to millions of people is that he protects them from something much worse. So long as that perception exists, those people will back him no matter how offensively he behaves.

He could lose that support, but only if he betrays that core appeal. If Trump started to appoint liberal judges or took positions that threatened what evangelicals perceive as religious liberty, many would start to rethink their backing for him. If he were to turn on a dime and undo many of his tax cuts, many fiscal conservatives would rethink their support. But so long as he keeps his deals, the alternatives are so unpalatable that Trump looks fine by comparison.

Those who want to defeat Trump should read the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. He said that a general should leave a route free when an enemy is surrounded. “Do not press a desperate foe too hard,” he wrote, knowing that a cornered person will fight to the death. The more people who feel cornered, the more people will disregard Trump’s statements and character to defend what they hold most dear. Until Trump’s opponents grasp this fact, nothing Trump says will do anything to weaken his support.

Thank you, Mr. Olsen, for sharing your views with us.

And now let me tell you a few things. First off, your claim that Trump is actually “protecting” anyone from anything is highly problematic, on multiple levels. But let me just, for the sake of the discussion, accept your premise.

There appear to be about 42 percent of our population who feel an intense need to be protected from the views and policy objectives of about 52 percent of the population. As long as the 42 percent haven’t found a way to establish a Dictatorship of the Culturally Aggrieved, they need to outvote the 52 percent. Can’t do it no other way.

How do 42 percent outvote 52 percent? Obviously, by somehow depressing the enthusiasm and the turnout of the 52 percent, while getting everybody on their own side really riled up.

If Trump the Protector grasped that basic point, he probably could find some effective ways to implement the strategy.

But no, he’s not doing that. Instead, what he’s doing is riling up his own base, and, at the same time, doing things that (a) peel away some of his remaining marginal supporters and (b) royally piss off the 52 percent side.

We see it in tonight’s House vote on the racist tweets resolution. Sure, the majority stayed with him—and a minority of Republicans vigorously endorsed the racist tweets. But some had had enough. If you’re in the minority, you really cannot afford to lose the marginal supporters and the reluctant fellow travelers.

So, Mr. Olsen, whatever it is you think Trump is protecting you from, he’s doing a piss-poor job of it.

And, by the way, Mr. Olsen, to win, our side has to gin up our own base, and then outvote you at the polls. And that, sir, is exactly what our side is by way of doing.

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Just Bonkers

crazy like a fox

Jennifer Rubin, William Barr and his horrible hearing:

So far, Attorney General William P. Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee has done himself and the administration no favors. To the contrary, former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal observes, “Barr has been evasive and misleading from the first paragraph. It’s conduct totally unbecoming of an attorney general. He’s not even very good at misleading.”

Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman were more blunt. “This is nuts . . . just bonkers, ” he told me mid-morning. …

The attorney general seems determined to incinerate his professional reputation. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says, “Barr is deliberately misleading the U.S. Senate by making statements that are highly deceptive but technically accurate.

Putting Barr’s Testimony in Context

As Freud may or may not have said, sometimes a pencil is just a pencil. Sometimes bonkers behavior is just bonkers behavior.

But Barr comes out of a “BigLaw” and big business environment where people often deceive others about their true motivations. A fair share are crazy—or become crazy with time. Some are crazy like a fox. Some THINK they can act crazy like a fox, and achieve some hidden objective.

So, I’m tellin’ you, whether you believe me or not, something other than simple bonkers behavior is going on here. If Barr “seems determined to incinerate his professional reputation”—and that’s a very fair summary of the situation—then it’s a conscious decision, and there’s a reason behind it. Maybe not a good reason. Maybe not a reason that you or I would approve. But there is a reason.

So High You Can’t Get Over It, So Low You Can’t Get Under It, So Wide You Can’t Get Around It

Today, Jennifer Rubin tells us that we’re Learning to Ignore Trump. I think she’s about right.

So keep your blood pressure low this afternoon, and enjoy the twitterings below and the ironically chosen music above.

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There Must Be an End to Understanding

One may be credulous, but when the facts are bad enough, there will come an end to credulity. (The song makes the point nicely, but I wish I could have shared Patsy Cline’s rendition. I couldn’t find it, so I had to settle for Willie Nelson.)

In a way, I hate to keep referencing Jennifer Rubin. Back in the day, the mere thought of Mitt Romney was enough send her into an orgasmic swoon. It was a sentiment to which Aardvark could not relate. But lately she has come to her senses.

This afternoon, she writes, Americans have had enough:

What in the past worked to delight [Trump’s] audience and throw mainstream media off balance (e.g., a new scandal to replace an old one, vicious personal attacks on opponents and the press, new stock market highs) no longer works to keep his leaky ship of state afloat. Shutting down the government, rewarding Russia and Iran in the Middle East, losing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and sending the markets reeling may have moved us to a tipping point, the moment when lawmakers and voters decide Trump is far more trouble than he’s worth.

Well said—except that that last sentence has a highly salient omission. The important thing is not that “lawmakers” are fed up. It’s not that voters are fed up. It’s that the plutocrats are fed up.

But I digress.

Ms. Rubin goes on to put two and two together:

Let me suggest the American public is moving toward two disturbing conclusions: The president is a menace, and the president likely broke the law. What’s the implication of all that? First, his chances of reelection are sinking fast. It’s one thing to resist impeachment; it’s another to sign up for four more years of turmoil with a liar and miscreant. Republicans had better start looking for options for 2020. Second, the public, I’d suggest, is far more likely to accept at face value special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report findings. If they already suspect Trump ordered illegal payments or obstructed justice, Mueller’s report will likely solidify that view beyond the confines of the Trump cult (which shrinks as his performance worsens). Third, impeachment becomes less akin to a risky option and more like a constitutional obligation compelled by events. Fourth, watching the turn in public opinion and the meltdown in the executive branch (especially the loss of the only trustworthy national security adviser), more senators will begin to consider seriously removing Trump from office. And finally, as we have previously discussed, the option of indicting him and/or his business organization becomes only a question of timing (now or after he leaves office).

In sum, the ground shifted substantially over the last week or so. The cracks in his Republican wall of support are widening as actual fear grips Republican officeholders; the public becomes far more willing — anxious even — to see him go. Whether all that will result in his departure from office before 2020 is unknown, but it no longer seems like a pipe dream.

It’s sort of like how most of us die. One organ fails, that leads to another failure, that leads to another, and the whole thing just shuts down.