Some Dragons are Imaginary
October 13th, 2019
There’s a lot of concern among the talking heads who aren’t just poseurs from the far right about why impeachment simply cannot get rid of the pestilence in the White House because it’s never succeeded before. Similarly, there is endless speculation about what might happen if Trump is impeached, convicted by the Senate, and refuses to leave.
Some of the concerns are well-founded, and some are grave enough that they need to be considered seriously. The coming impeachment is going to be a very tense and dangerous time for the country and anyone who says they know what’s going to happen is lying to you.
However, there is no acceptable solution that allows Trump to remain in office. He himself is the gravest and most immediate danger the country faces, and his behavior and words show that he has absolutely no compunction about sacrificing the country and the people therein to his own desires.
Yes, kicking him out is dangerous. So dangerous that the only thing more dangerous is allowing him to stay.
We’ve already passed a few of the ‘insurmountables’ that people said made impeachment a pipe dream. As recently as a month ago, only a dozen or so Democrats were willing to say publicly that they favored an impeachment inquiry, and it was ‘conventional wisdom’ that with the Republicans united and the Democrats divided, the impeachment process in the House could not begin. Obviously, that has changed, with only a few Democrats silent on the impeachment process, and disarray growing rapidly in the Republican ranks.
Another argument was that the public would never go for it. It wasn’t baseless: as recently as two weeks before he resigned, Nixon enjoyed 50+ favorable ratings, higher than any Trump has seen since he took office. The day he was impeached, Bill Clinton’s approval rating rose to 73%. It’s safe to assume Andrew Johnson’s impeachment was deeply unpopular, even though Johnson himself was unpopular. Johnson and Clinton were both impeached for political purposes, and the public knew that, and detested Congress’ abuse of its power to impeach. In the case of Nixon, when the “smoking gun” tape was released, his support, both in Congress and the public, collapsed, and only his resignation prevented a full-on impeachment and trial which he would have surely lost.
The scandal with the Ukraine, as manifestly, obviously criminal as it was, is just one of many smoking guns. Trump, after all, admitted he did it, and offered the defense that it’s not illegal when the president does it. That defense didn’t work for Nixon, and it won’t work here.
However, there are at least two dozen other criminal acts where any competent district attorney would have little or no reason to avoid taking to trial, based just on the available evidence. At least some of the crimes involve bribery, one of two specific crimes deemed impeachable in the Constitution. The other is ‘treason,’ and while he technically can’t be guilty of that as the United States is not formally at war with anyone, he is still committing actions to the detriment of the country, and in some instances, it can be shown that he did so for personal gain, or to cozy up to other authoritarians at the expense of Americans. This week’s nightmare decision by Trump to allow the Turks to invade Syria and massacre the Kurds has a lot more people questioning Trump’s patriotism than there were last week.
Another objection is that McConnell would prevent a Senate vote on the impeachment evidence. That’s not likely since the Senate MUST hold a trial for findings of impeachable crimes by the House. No wriggle room there, and McConnell may be bent, but he isn’t stupid. The public is watching, the evidence is overwhelming, and the blowback would destroy him and his party. Nor does he have the option of holding a farce process; Chief Justice John Roberts will be presiding, and unlike most of the Republican appointees of late, he seems determined to be a justice first and a member of the Heritage Society second. He’s certainly no liberal, and will vote for corporate interests every time, but he’s not a hack. He isn’t going to let McConnell make him look like an ineffectual clown. And with cracks already showing amongst once-solid Republican ranks, the flood of testimony and evidence should make it impossible for the Senators to stand and vote on a kangaroo trial. Many of them have already figured out that the only thing worse than having Trump as an enemy is having Trump as an ally.
People think the courts will protect Trump. But thus far, he has lost every single court battle relating to investigations into his possible criminality. Every single one. And at the final level, the Supreme Court, while Alito, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Thomas are GOP hacks, the rest aren’t—including, critically, John Roberts. And even Alito and Gorsuch might concede that Trump does not have a valid defense in his appeal. At the very worst, they understand that a blatantly political decision would permanently damage the Court. It’s still trying to recover from Bush vs. Gore.
Most dictators are astute enough to keep their corruption as hidden as possible. Trump couldn’t be bothered with such sublime considerations, and it puts his supporters more and more in the position of appearing corrupt themselves just by blindly supporting him. Republicans know they can’t get away with much trying to protect Trump now, and with each passing day, Trump gives them fewer and fewer reasons why they should protect him.
Trump has already suggested that the Democrats might spark a civil war by persecuting him. Most people took that as a dog-whistle to both the military and his loonier cult followers. While there are a lot of Dominionists and other ultra-righties in the military, it’s not a given that they would take Trump’s side to spark a civil war. While he may be their Commander in Chief, an order to round up his political foes and falsely detain them would be an unlawful order (the technical term is ‘lynching’). In a more practical stance, those members of the military (hopefully a small minority) who dream of staging a military coup to rid the nation of goddless librul commies might reconsider the wisdom of such if it meant Trump would be dictator-for-life.
Among patriotic members of the military, this week’s misadventures with Syria and the Turks and the subsequent slaughter of Kurds destroyed any illusions of Trump’s concern for the national welfare. The deliberate targeting of American troops by the Turks, led to an ignominious retreat by the US military and the abandonment of their allies, the Kurds. It didn’t help that Trump snorted disparagingly that the Kurds weren’t our allies in World War 2. They were, in fact, and played a key role in keeping Hitler from invading the oil fields in the middle east. The Turks, however, were not.
It was a disgraceful moment for America and America’s military, and the most likely motive was that Trump wanted to do Turkish despot Erdogan a solid in order to protect business interests he had in Turkey.
So no, the military isn’t likely to go to war against America on Trump’s behalf.
That leaves Trump’s more lunatic followers. Yes, they are a danger. But to be an effective danger, they would need to form a Resistance to back their terror cells, and a Resistance requires widespread popular support, and that just isn’t there. A lot of his support remains loyal Americans who want to support the GOP, and he’s making it harder and harder for that to remain a tenable position. Few of them are willing to kill or be killed by their countrymen in the name of Trump.
As I said at the start, these are very dangerous times. There’s always a bugger factor. America is weak and divided right now, and that could pose an invite to unfriendly interests abroad. Trump, knowingly or not, could stumble us into a major war. A natural catastrophe could persuade the nation to put politics aside, wisely or not. There’s a million things. I just gave opinions on a half dozen of the most likely scenarios.
Meanwhile, keep a close eye on the news, and be ready to jump.