Anti-Trumper George Will to Democrats: Just say no to impeachment

A mild surprise, as he’s been known to refer to Trump as a “lowlife from Queens.” His antipathy to the president runs so deep that he ended up backing Democrats in the midterm elections on grounds that it was the patriotic thing to do under the circumstances.

Not a man opposed in principle to cutting Trump’s term short, to put it mildly.

But he’s a no on impeachment, for three reasons. One: Overturning the voters’ verdict is not something to be done lightly. If Trump had conspired with Russia, that would be one thing. But he didn’t, so what are you going to impeach him for? Firing James Comey, which he was authorized by law to do? C’mon.

Two: General sleaziness *is* good grounds for impeachment, says Will, but in this case that brings us back to point one. Overturning the will of the voters isn’t to be done lightly. If Trump’s sleaziness, his “incessant lying and increasingly contemptible coarseness,” had been hidden from the public during the campaign only to reveal itself once in office there’d be an argument for Congress to step in. But since it wasn’t…

Democrats should heed Weiner: “That an offense is impeachable does not mean it warrants impeachment.” Potential impeachers must consider “the general political context of the times,” including “the potential public reaction.” Democrats should face two lamentable but undeniable facts: Trump was elected because many millions of Americans enjoy his boorishness. And he essentially promised to govern as a lout. Promise-keeping would be an unusual ground for impeachment.

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard,” wrote H.L. Mencken. The people knew what they wanted, and they’re getting it good and hard.

Three: It won’t succeed. Removal by the Senate is enormously difficult, as it should be, because it requires the support of two-thirds of the chamber. That all but guarantees that no president can be removed without a sizable minority of his own party joining the effort. Asking Republicans in 2019 to help remove Trump, Will argues, is like asking members of the Communist Party circa 1950 to remove Stalin:

[Republicans] were for free trade until Trump informed them that they were not. They were defenders of the U.S. intelligence community until Trump announced in Helsinki that he believed Vladimir Putin rather than this community regarding Russian support for his election. They excoriated wishful thinking regarding North Korea until Trump spent a few hours with Kim Jong Un and, smitten, tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” Republicans have moved from stressing presidential dignity to cowed silence when, to take only the most recent example, Trump endorsed a North Korean state media outlet’s ridicule of “low IQ” Joe Biden (a taunt Trump falsely ascribed to Kim). Republicans railed against President Barack Obama’s executive overreaching but are eloquently mute when Obama’s successor promiscuously declares “emergencies” in order to “repurpose” funds Congress appropriated for other purposes, and to truncate the process of congressional approval of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies.

CPUSA members in the 1930s, blinkered by ideology, had a servile faith in a Soviet regime that they identified with historic (and therefore progressive) inevitabilities. Today’s congressional Republicans, blinded by their puppy-like devotion (and leavened by terror of the capricious master to whom they are devoted), would make a Senate impeachment trial a partisan debacle ending in acquittal.

The triumph of international socialism required serving Stalin in whatever way necessary; preventing the triumph of international socialism (and protecting oneself from a primary challenge) requires serving Trump in whatever way necessary. Forced to choose between no impeachment and a farce in the Senate in which the outcome is foreordained by partisanship, Will prefers the option that won’t set an embarrassing precedent.

Oh well. There’s always the chance that Trump will be primaried instead. Or is there? (Maybe.)