I remember back when I’d only been blogging for a few years and Brad De Long (among various others) used to ask variations of the question, why oh why can’t we have a better press corps? I suppose quite a few of us feel that way from time to time, but this year it’s really beginning to sink in. I probably wouldn’t notice nearly as much if I just stopped looking at my inbox every morning. For one of the choicest examples, I receive the daily newsletter from the WaPo which is a roundup of their opinion pieces for the day. On any given morning over the past few months, with only minor translations, the list boils down to this.
- Trump is Terrible.
- Trump is Awful.
- Trump Should Be Impeached.
- Did We Mention That Trump is Terrible?
David Ignatius at the Washington Post provides a sterling example with his latest op-ed titled, Get Ready for the Impeachment Election. The particularly striking thing about this column is that it really seems to pull away the mask in a significant way. Rather than being one single complaint hitting whatever the scandal of the day is (Russia! Comey! Mueller! Deportation squads!), Ignatius perhaps unwittingly spills the microfiche from Progressive HQ which contains the top secret battle plan. There isn’t one single point of attack being passed around here. There’s a daily agenda which stretches straight into November of 2018 and it seeks to associate the Trump presidency with a single word in the minds of the electorate: impeachment.
President Trump, it’s said, doesn’t read presidential biographies. That’s a shame. For he appears to be making the same mistakes that destroyed Nixon’s presidency. That’s the thrust of The Post’s big story Monday night reporting that Trump asked U.S. intelligence chiefs to challenge the FBI’s investigation of possible links between his campaign and Russia.
“History does not repeat, but it does instruct,” writes Timothy Snyder in his new book, “On Tyranny.” Some people, apparently including Trump, just don’t learn…
For all Mueller’s probity, this investigation has an inescapable political destination. Mueller must refer any evidence of wrongdoing by Trump himself to the House of Representatives as evidence of possible “high crimes and misdemeanors” that might warrant impeachment. Would this GOP-dominated House begin impeachment proceedings, even on strong evidence of obstruction? Right now, you’d have to guess no.
This piece has it all and packs it into a relatively cozy space. Nixon. Russia. Tyranny. High Crimes and Misdemeanors. The gang’s all here, with the right buzzwords to remind the nation of the ongoing narrative before a single piece of evidence has been presented. And notice how those last two sentences build in an insurance policy for Ignatius. After spending paragraphs heaping praise upon Mueller as a steely eyed investigator who will pierce the fog of Beltway politics and get his man, reporting his findings dutifully to Congress, the author implies that the GOP may still not impeach the president… even though he clearly deserves it.
That’s the theme. If the ongoing investigation actually turns up some criminal activity (for which this is not one shred of proof as yet), then fine. Liberals get their wish and most sane conservatives I know wouldn’t argue with them. If any president breaks the law they have to be held accountable. But if this all turns out to be a bag full of misspoken words, less than desirable conversations, dumb mistakes or just poor optics, impeachment would be off the table. But that doesn’t matter. It’s going to take so long for various investigations to sort everything out that by then we’ll be well into the heat of the midterm election if not beyond it. And all the voters who pay only scant attention will have heard for 21 months is, “the President is in trouble. The President is going to be impeached. The President is just a bad, bad man.”
While we’ve made reference to it here before at times, this set of data really brings to mind yet again something James Downton at The Federalist observed, though he may not have been the first. What we’re witnessing from much of the media this year has all the hallmarks of a slow motion coup d’etat.
It’s nearly incontrovertible that a slow-motion coup d’etat is now taking place. Since November 9, 2016, forces within the U.S. government, media, and partisan opposition have aligned to overthrow the Electoral College winner, Donald Trump.
To achieve this they have undermined the institutions of the Fourth Estate, the bureaucratic apparatus of the U.S. government, and the very nature of a contentious yet affable two-party political system. Unlike the coup d’etat that sees a military or popular figure lead a minority resistance or majority force into power over the legitimate government, this coup d’etat is leaderless and exposes some of the deepest fissures in our system of government. This coup d’etat represents not the rule of one man or even many, but by the multitude of our elites.
It’s truly remarkable to watch. The President can be landing in a Muslim nation being greeted and speaking to matters which entangle the world in conflict and there will be cable news networks ignoring it entirely to discuss the latest, now 12 hours old leak in the New York Times. He can give another speech in Israel (the second one) and not one major network cuts away to it. If it bleeds, it leads, but only if the Trump administration is the one spilling out blood.
When I disagree with the President on some policy point I openly criticize him here. And if he actually did break the law I want him to be held accountable. But we know nothing concrete about whatever the supposed obstruction or collusion is alleged to be at this point and there’s still a nation to be run. It used to be all the news that’s fit to print. In 2017 it’s all the news that undermines the presidency. And the crazy part is that it will probably work. People can only get hit on the thumb with the same hammer so many times before they start taking that condition as normal.