Fiat Justicia et Pereat Trumpus

cornered Trump

I’m a fan of Ruth Marcus, and I enjoyed reading her post yesterday, beginning with its headline: Poll by sinking poll, Trump inches toward impeachment.

Ruth speculates, somewhat inconclusively, on what may happen when an “activist Democratic base” pushes the House of Representatives toward impeachment—perhaps against the better judgment of its leaders—and the Senate finds it difficult of impossible to muster a two-thirds majority to remove Trump from office.

Though, as I said, I’m one of Ruth’s fans, I don’t think she has fully war gamed this out. Right or wrong, here’s how I see it.

Between now and the November elections

  • Republican candidates and activists will double down on fear, racism, and Trump sycophancy
  • trade war troubles will become increasingly salient, and, very probably,
  • several more new shoes will drop on Trump, as a consequence of his multifarious malfeasances,

all of which will lead to

  • Trump’s hard core supporters revving themselves up unbelievably, like kindergartners after an especially successful trick of treat expedition, but
  • serious depression of Republican support among the pseudo-respectable wing of what is left of the Republican Party.

Look again at those Florida primary results. Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump made the Republican gubernatorial primary a referendum on Donald Trump. And what happened? What happened was that 54 percent of Republican primary voters—a number equal to 33 percent of Democratic and Republican voters combined—voted to endorse Trump.

If Republicans can only run full out Trumpistas, and if full-out Trumpistas can only one third of the vote, then that, my friends, is not a winning strategy for the bad guys.

And so, the dilemma for Republican pols: you can’t win without Trump, and you can’t win with Trump.

Now, folks, put on your thinking caps. What’s the best way for a Republican pol to escape the otherwise inescapable dilemma?

Think hard.

The best way, in fact the only way, to escape the dilemma is to THROW TRUMP UNDER THE BUS.

And here’s the bonus: YOU GET MIKE PENCE FOR PRESIDENT.

And that will look a hell of a lot like a win-win situation for the Republican pols.

Meanwhile, in News from Mike Allen of Axios:

The bottom line: But President Trump has never been more isolated from allies he needs most.

  • The public is against him: A new Washington Post/ABC News poll found a record 60% of Americans view him unfavorably.
  • Guess who those same people like a lot better: Robert Mueller (63% support his investigation) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (64% say he shouldn’t be fired; 62% side with him on the Mueller probe).
  • His legal team is shrinking. Not only is top White House lawyer Don McGahn leaving soon, but McGahn deputy counsel Annie Donaldson is expected to leave soon after. “[T]he White House Counsel’s Office has dwindled to about 25 lawyers, down from roughly 35,” per the WashPost.
  • His allies are buckling, with embarrassing admissions in the plea deal by personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
  • Immunity has been granted to his gossip shield, David Pecker, CEO of the National Enquirer’s publisher; and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.
  • Tensions with staff run high as ever. He has never been close to many of his top staffers, and this is more true than ever.
  • The N.Y. Times’ Maggie Haberman tweets: “His aides say he is behaving as if he is cornered.”

The Sins of Father Conroy

sinful

Ruth Marcus gives additional context to the defenestration of the House Chaplain:

Ryan admonished the priest after the Nov. 6 prayer, saying, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics,” Conroy told the New York Times.

He was warned. He was given an explanation. Nevertheless, he persisted.

Over the five months since Ryan’s warning, Conroy dared to continue to preach the teachings of Jesus on the House floor:

He prayed to God that lawmakers would help “the least among us.”

He prayed for them to follow the example of St. Nicholas, “who fed the hungry, brought hope to the imprisoned, gave comfort to the lost.”

He admonished lawmakers “to serve other people in their need” and “to pray for the unemployed and those who work but still struggle to make ends meet.”

After an immigration deal collapsed, he urged “those who possess power here in Washington be mindful of those whom they represent who possess little or no power.”

He prayed for lawmakers to be “free of all prejudice” and, after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, to “fulfill the hopes of those who long for peace and security for their children.”

One of my favorite liberal pundits has argued,

The House chaplain is not like a tenured faculty post at a university, which has some implicit protection for the right to give controversial political remarks. If you have a House chaplain — which I don’t even favor in the first place — you have no obligation to let them use the perch to push their own political values.

It’s important to separate substance from process. When you lose sight of that distinction, you wind up like Trump’s Republican allies, supporting anything their party does to advance their agenda. Ryan’s beliefs about taxes may be horrid, but he has no obligation to let the House chaplain deliver subtle rebukes to his ideology.

Makes perfect sense—from a secular point of view. And I’m sure that Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan’s patron said, would thoroughly approve of keeping religion out of Congress.

But from Father Ryan’s point of view, it wasn’t a matter of “ideology,” it was a matter of fundamental religious conviction.

The Lesson

The Lesson? If you don’t want Christianity to influence the prayers you hear, then for God’s sake don’t appoint a chaplain who is an actual Christian.

I’m sure it’s a mistake Paul Ryan will not make again.