These two kids. Always at odds!
If you read the headline and thought, “I’m sick to death of the entire cast of characters from 2016,” bad news — we’ll be relitigating the Election Of The Damned for the rest of our miserable lives. Night and day, on and on, for decades. It’s even possible that Trump and Hillary will each live another 15 years and still be sniping at each other on Twitter or whatever hellish social-media nightmare ends up replacing that platform by 2034.
Get comfortable, is what I’m saying. This “Twilight Zone” marathon never ends.
“I’m in favor of moving toward impeachment,” [Clinton] said. “I did not come to that decision easily or quickly, but this is an emergency as I see it. … This latest behavior around Ukraine, trying to enlist the president of Ukraine in a plot to undermine former Vice President Biden or lose the military aide he needs to defend against Trump’s friend, Vladimir Putin — if that’s not an impeachable offense, I don’t know what is.”…
Calling Trump a “corrupt human tornado,” Clinton told PEOPLE it is the constitutional duty of the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings “not happily or with glee,” but in the interests of national security.
“The president of the United States is betraying our country on a daily basis,” she said, adding, “This man who is in the Oval Office right now is a clear and present danger to the future of the United States.”
You would think that the guy who may or may not have inadvertently cost her the presidency, who’s spent nearly every waking hour of the past two years pressing the case that Trump is a human wrecking ball slamming against democratic norms, would join her in wanting him out of office ASAP. Not so. James Comey was asked about the new Democratic impeachment push today and reprised a line he’s used before: American voters would be “let off the hook” if Congress intervened to cut short Trump’s presidency. The only way to undo the mistake of 2016, Comey says, is to have the people who sent him to Washington now send him home.
I’ve never understood his “let off the hook” point. It’s as if the American electorate is a naughty child that needs to sit in the corner and think about what it’s done until it’s ready to apologize. Why does he believe that a country capable of nominating and electing Trump in the first place will have some crisis of conscience about him in 2020? If Trump loses, it’ll likely be due to a combination of fatigue and his Democratic opponent this time not being quite as personally obnoxious as his last Democratic opponent. Anyone who’s casting a ballot against him on moral or ethical grounds likely already voted against him on those grounds three years ago: Say what you want about Trump, he is who voters thought he was. I don’t know why Comey’s giving the people who made him president the benefit of the doubt in implying that all of this is somehow surprising and disappointing to them.
Beyond that, if you take his point seriously that only the electorate should properly undo the mistake of the electorate, it’s a recipe for endless abuses of power by Trump. The president is a man who takes advantage of opportunities; Comey’s essentially saying that Trump shouldn’t be impeached no matter what corrupt opportunities he chooses to take advantage of. Imagine what that might look like in practice over the next 13 months. I get that his mien is “disappointed schoolteacher,” but no matter how much he might prefer to scold voters until they see the errors of their ways, there has to be *some* form of misconduct hypothetically that would properly trigger impeachment in the House. Does this Ukraine thing rise to that level? If not, what does?
He can’t really mean to imply that *nothing* would reach that level.
His point about Trumpers viewing impeachment as a “coup” is sounder, and has been made elsewhere:
A Russian opposition figure told me, before the Mueller report came out, that she hoped Trump wouldn’t be impeached or indicted. I asked why. “Because his removal will not be seen as legitimate by half the country and America will be paralyzed.”
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) September 24, 2019
The wrinkle, though, is that much of the country is likely to view a repudiation next fall at the polls that way too. Not the same number as would view impeachment as illegitimate, of course: If Trump lost decisively at the ballot box, maybe 25 percent would treat the result as some sort of scam versus the 50 percent or so who’d treat impeachment as a coup. But if the election is close, as it’s apt to be? Imagine if Trump had lost Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida in 2016 by the same whisker-thin margins he ended up winning them by. It would be an article of faith among righties to this day, just as it’s an article of faith for many lefties, that the vote was rigged somehow. Illegal aliens voted or the Clinton machine had the numbers manipulated or what have you. Trump himself would have egged on those beliefs every day on Twitter and Fox News. And that’s what’ll happen if he loses narrowly next year — in which case how different is impeachment really from losing an election in terms of legitimacy?
In lieu of an exit question, read this short but interesting thread from David Drucker about a conversation he had with “a Republican who is measured & knowledgable.” What if Trump *and* Biden each had innocent intentions in their interactions with Ukraine?