Would an opponent go after the fact he is gay(?)? Not in this lifetime.
Fri 1 Nov, 2019 09:57 am
House Democrats are doing the right thing by pursuing impeachment against President Trump. But it does create a political quandary for their party.
Democrats have been most successful against Trump when they have focused on his unpopular policies, as they did during the 2017 fight over Obamacare and the 2018 midterms. They have been least successful when focusing on his outrageous behavior, as Hillary Clinton did in her 2016 campaign. Trump’s supporters seem to take his personality as a given and aren’t moved by complaints about it. Some fraction of them, however, can evidently be swayed by his failure to live up to his policy promises.
Impeachment unavoidably returns the focus to the cartoon version of Trump, the gleefully norm-breaking president who resembles no other. The trial is also likely to end in acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump will then claim vindication, and Republicans will deride the exercise as a vindictive waste of time and money.
Given the severity of Trump’s misbehavior — turning American foreign policy into an opposition-research arm of his campaign — Democrats had no choice but to start an impeachment inquiry. Yet they need to remember that impeachment is an inherently political process, not a technocratic legal matter. It will fail if it does not persuade more Americans of his unfitness for office. It will succeed only if he is not president on Jan. 21, 2021.
And it is far more likely to succeed if Democrats can connect it in voters’ minds to a larger argument about the substance of Trump’s presidency.
The most promising version of that argument revolves around corruption: The Ukraine quid pro quo matters because it shows how Trump has reneged on his promise to fight for ordinary Americans and is using the power of the presidency to benefit himself. As Leah Greenberg, a co-founder of the progressive group Indivisible, says: “This man is not working for you. He is working to put his own interests first. And he is endangering the country to do it.”
Corruption is one of the public’s top worries, surveys show. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last year, people ranked the economy as the country’s most important issue, and No. 2 was “reducing the influence of special interests and corruption in Washington.” It’s a cross-partisan concern too, spanning Democrats, Republicans and independents.
The corruption argument can appeal to the swing voters who helped elect Barack Obama in 2012, flipped to Trump in 2016 and flipped back to Democrats in 2018. And despite wishful thinking by some progressives, winning swing voters — rather than simply motivating the base — will again be crucial in 2020. “You have to build a bridge for people to walk across,” said David Axelrod, the former Obama strategist, referring to Trump’s 2016 supporters. “If you say the guy is a reprobate and a sleaze and all of that, it’s harder for people who voted for him to walk across that bridge.”
Casting Trump as a reprobate is tempting because, well, he is. He is a “pathological liar,” as Ted Cruz said during the 2016 Republican primaries, as well as a “con artist” (Marco Rubio’s description) and a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” (Lindsey Graham’s). Mick Mulvaney, then a Republican congressman, had the simplest summary: “He’s a terrible human being.”
But none of these descriptions has proved to be an effective political tactic against Trump. He easily defeated all the other Republican candidates who called him nasty names, and Mulvaney now serves Trump as the acting White House chief of staff.
In the 2016 general election, Clinton’s campaign bet that swing voters would be less tolerant of his personal behavior than the Republican base had been.
She devoted a greater share of advertising to her opponent’s personality — and less to policy — than any previous nominee this century, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. One Clinton ad showed children watching television while Trump said offensive things on-screen.
At the time, the strategy seemed reasonable — and effective. In the campaign’s final weeks, 62 percent of Americans said they had mostly negative feelings about him, one poll found. Yet some of those 62 percent voted for him nonetheless. They were unhappy enough with the state of the country, and the Democratic nominee, that they were willing to take a chance on a brash, crass outsider who promised to fight for them.
Two years later, in the 2018 midterms, Democrats adopted a very different strategy, going after swing voters with a less Trump-centric campaign. “We said to the candidates, ‘Don’t even mention his name,’” Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ leader in the House, told me. “This is not about him.” The campaign should instead be about people’s “hopes and dreams and fears and aspirations and apprehensions,” Pelosi said.
Democrats focused on pocketbook issues like health care and criticized Republicans for not using their power to help ordinary Americans. It worked, thanks to both strong Democratic turnout and persuasion of swing voters. The party retook control of the House, flipping many districts — in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere — that Trump had won in 2016.
The contrast between 2016 and 2018 fits a global pattern. Demagogues like Trump typically rise to power when people have come to distrust a country’s elites, as Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago has pointed out.
Demagogues “don’t exist in a vacuum,” Zingales has said. “The more the elite go after him, the more people think, ‘He’s one of us.’” The better strategy — one that defeated Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, for example — is to treat demagogues like normal politicians who have failed to deliver.
The Ukraine scandal offers Democrats a chance to do so. As a candidate, Trump promised to fix the country and make it great again. But he didn’t really mean it. From the beginning — like the secret negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign — he has tried to help himself, not the country.
He signed a tax bill that benefits wealthy people like him, not ordinary workers. He has used the presidency to pad the profits of his hotels. And he has damaged American interests by contorting foreign policy, toward Russia, China, Ukraine and others, to make sure he can remain in office and continue enriching himself at taxpayers’ expense.
This argument isn’t entirely separate from a pocketbook campaign message. Many Americans believe that one reason the economy hasn’t been working well for them is the corrupt political system. Some Democrats, like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, are already making this case. Trump himself made it in 2016. In 2020, however, he will be the incumbent president who represents the corrupt status quo.
Of course, he will still use his flamboyant style to present himself as an outsider and cast the Democratic nominee as an elitist insider. But this same style leaves him open to a second message that can fit comfortably with anti-corruption. It’s the chaos argument.
Trump has turned American politics into an exhausting circus. “The best argument against Trump is simply this: We can’t tolerate another four years like these,” Axelrod said. “We can’t wake up to crazy tweets and gratuitous taunts. That gets in the way of solving problems that affect people’s lives.”
George W. Bush skillfully used a version of this strategy in 2000. Bush tied his opponent, Al Gore, to the impeachment of Bill Clinton and promised to “restore dignity and honor” to the White House. Conservative voters, angry about Clinton, turned out in large numbers, and many swing voters, worn out by scandal, voted to put a different party in power.
With Trump on the ballot, the chaos argument can be even sharper: Trump deliberately creates chaos to distract from his failures as president.
Democrats don’t need to litigate the details of every false statement. The more effective response may instead be a version of Ronald Reagan’s knowing line: There he goes again.
All of this will depend, first of all, on how well House Democrats conduct the impeachment process. After months of flailing — during and after Robert Mueller’s investigation — the House has been doing a better job recently. They have brought in a parade of credible, nonpartisan witnesses, like Bill Taylor and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who have testified to Trump’s corrupt efforts to distort foreign policy.
But they have also been testifying behind closed doors. The more politically important part of the inquiry will begin when public hearings do. And Democrats will need to avoid the long-winded, disorganized speechifying that characterize most congressional hearings. They will need to make a clear, convincing case — not that Donald Trump is a bad person, but that he has failed the country.
The trial is also likely to end in acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump will then claim vindication, and Republicans will deride the exercise as a vindictive waste of time and money.
And rightly so.
Hopefully it will lead to an effort to outlaw the Democratic Party altogether.
New York Times/opinion wrote:
Given the severity of Trump's misbehavior -- turning American foreign policy into an opposition-research arm of his campaign -- Democrats had no choice but to start an impeachment inquiry.
There has been no misbehavior by Trump. It is entirely proper that he try to have the Bidens' criminal activity investigated.
The only misbehavior here comes from the Democrats abusing their power to use bogus investigations to damage people who merely disagree with them.
That the Democrats are now falsely accusing Mr. Trump of the very misbehavior that they themselves are perpetrating against him only compounds the outrageousness of what the Democrats are doing.
On the other hand, I hear on the news that some sort of leftist nutcase has been humiliated into resigning from Congress after someone put nude pictures of her on the internet. Perhaps people can start doing this to other progressive thugs as well. Americans really need to start standing up to progressives.
you are unable to post anything but self flagellation. Youve yet to post anything thoughtful or worth responding to on topic.
hen someone posts that they want to "outlaw" an entire party , it shows me that such views are bereft of any reason or intelligence.
The Republican Party must choose between Donald Trump and the party's fundamental values
Trump aims to discredit and delegitimize the impeachment process by turning it into a circus. But circuses need clowns. Is the GOP up for that?
Charles Sykes Opinion contributor
This is the stark political reality: on Thursday not a single House Republican voted for the resolution formalizing the inquiry into the impeachment of Donald Trump.
Congressman Justin Amash, who left the GOP this year, reminded his colleagues that Trump will only be in power for a short time, “but excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name.” He appealed to Republicans to step out of their media bubbles. “History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous, and false defenses of this man.”
When it came time to vote, not one Republican followed his advice.
The lockstep vote is a reminder of Donald Trump’s extraordinary hold over the GOP and the party’s cult-like unwillingness to break with Trump, despite the mounting evidence of his misconduct. To imagine now that Republicans will somehow show a flash of independence and conscience seems like the triumph of hope over experience.
Sticking by Trump
For the time being, Republicans have decided that sticking with Trump is the safe move, given his solid support among the base. But history’s verdict in unlikely to be kind, and what is about to happen is anything but safe.
A party line vote to exonerate the president irretrievably bonds the GOP to Trump’s conduct, character and ethics, and risks toxifying conservatism for a generation.
Republicans have already abandoned the notion that character matters, jettisoned fiscal conservativism and free markets, and accepted lying as simply the price of doing business with this president. They have watched as constitutional norms have been battered and the rule of law bent to partisan advantage.
Time and again, they have convinced themselves that it was all worth it. But the stakes are about to rise dramatically.
The problem facing the GOP is both the facts and the man. There will be more evidence — perhaps more whistleblowers and smoking guns; the hearings will be televised; and Trump himself will up the ante.
Republicans also need to keep in mind that poll numbers actually can move. Despite strong support for Trump among Republican voters, there are already discernible cracks. A new AP poll fins that only 53% of Republican voters think that the word “honest” describes Trump “very well.” Fully a third say Trump does not make them feel proud.
President Donald Trump
And it is likely to become even more embarrassing.
The impeachment process is among the gravest responsibilities granted to Congress, by the Constitution. But Trump will demand, in effect, that the process be turned into a farce.
Just this last week, we’ve gotten a taste of what Trump will insist upon: the clownish storming of the SCIF by a few dozen House Republicans and attempts to smear Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman. Both backfired badly.
Still, the point was clear: Trump aims to discredit and delegitimize the process by turning it into a circus. But circuses need clowns. Is the GOP up for that?
The Constitution envisions senators acting like jurors. Trump will insist they behave like political hacks.
Republicans must face the facts
Then there is the evidence. Republicans won’t be able to continue hide behind process complaints. Longtime Republican consultant Stuart Stephens notes: “When Republicans are asked in years to come why they opposed impeaching a president who tried to bribe a foreign government for political help with military aid, not sure the ‘I didn’t approve of the subcommittee process' will be very compelling.”
The fact pattern is increasingly clear and consistent; Trump demanded a clear quid pro quo from the Ukrainians. Republicans may imagine that they can find a safe space by saying this conduct was bad, but not impeachable. But by “bad” they mean attempting to coerce an ally to dig up political dirt on an opponent in exchange for aid that had been approved by Congress. They will be ratifying the president’s lies, his attempts to obstruct justice and Congress, and his pattern of self-dealing corruption.
Embracing someone like Trump would have real consequences for any political party, but especially for a conservative party that exists to uphold the values that they will have to sacrifice on the altar of loyalty to a disloyal president.
Republicans also need to be clear that a vote to acquit Trump will dramatically move the ratchet of acceptable presidential behavior; and it will set a precedent not just for Trump, but for future presidents as well. Sticking with Trump will effectively place the president not only above the law, but also beyond the reach of credible constitutional accountability.
There is, of course, an alternative. Some Republicans in the Senate seem to understand the need to withhold judgment for the time being. Some even seem to have an eye on history.
After all, Republicans have been here before. The GOP was able to move on from Watergate and the disgrace of Richard Nixon because they refused to be held hostage by his misdeeds.
It was Republican Senator Howard Baker who famously asked “What did the president know, and when did it he know it?” And it was Barry Goldwater who led the GOP delegation to tell Nixon that he had to resign.
Ultimately, the choice will rest with Republican senators, who will have to decide how they want history to remember them. Do they want to be Howard Baker? Or Lindsey Graham?
especially when they've been corroborated by several folks, and followed up with suspicious memos that were doctored transcripts. Besides, the president has unwittingly spoken in the affirmative about his telecon. His only defense is the "george Castanza" defense
"REALLY?? I DID NOT KNOW THAT IT WAS ILLEGAL"
Because of course that's where all certifiable people hide when confronted with facts that fly in the face of their supposedly genius imaginings. They (you in this case) escape to the fictionland of WoW.
That will be early 2025, after another Republican president is elected.
Fri 1 Nov, 2019 02:12 pm
Far fewer than those which have been correct.
You people have proven 0.Until something is proven it is only speculation and opinion.
Fri 1 Nov, 2019 02:37 pm
ha, ha, I remember that episode if it is the one I am thinking. "should I have not done that?" Can't imagine Trump asking that humble question.
Wish we could just logically tell Trump, "your fired."
Sat 2 Nov, 2019 07:01 am
Because of course that's where all certifiable people hide when confronted with facts that fly in the face of their supposedly genius imaginings. They (you in this case) escape to the fictionland of WoW.
Does your lack of honor and integrity embarrass you? No one confronted me with any facts, and I am not hiding from anything.
The argument of an emotional infant: "Everyone who stands up to my leftist bullying is stupid!"
Sat 2 Nov, 2019 08:23 am
Sorry, pundits: The problem isn't "polarization" — Republicans have lost their damn minds
Mainstream media loves the "both sides" narrative. But the real problem is that the GOP has snapped the tether
NOVEMBER 1, 2019 5:30PM (UTC)
When the final vote tally on a formal resolution governing the impeachment inquiry concluded on Thursday with a party-line split — all Republicans present voted against the resolution, and all but two Democrats voted for it — one could practically hear the squeak of excitement from the mainstream media pundit class. Here was an opportunity to run with a "partisan polarization" narrative that neatly sidesteps the substantive disagreement between the two parties.
The situation is simple: The Republican Party, both its politicians and its voters, has collectively decided that it's fine for Donald Trump to use his office to run an illegal extortion scheme against a foreign leader in an effort to cheat in the 2020 election. The moral rot of the Republican Party, and its cultist loyalty to a criminal president is the sole reason for this situation. Democrats are — rather too reluctantly! — trying to do something to stop the bleeding.
But to read mainstream news coverage, one would think the real problem is that both sides are irascible and bitterly divided, and that there's some reasonable solution that involves everyone joining hands and finding some way to compromise.
"Analysis: On Impeachment Fight, Neither Side Seems Willing To Give an Inch," read the Friday morning front-page headline at the New York Times, which, as usual, was the most egregious offender when it comes to "both sides" pablum.
The article underneath, by Carl Hulse, focused exclusively on the failure to compromise, noting that "the two parties [are] pulling ever further apart as they dig in deeper on the righteousness of their respective causes" and that "[l]ittle evidence has emerged that either side is willing to give an inch."
How the parties are supposed to compromise on the issue of whether the president should be allowed to commit serious crimes is not even addressed. After all, to acknowledge that one side is for crimes and the other side is against them might expose how ridiculous this "compromise vs. polarization" framework really is.
The Associated Press covered the vote in a similar vein, writing that "Democrats swept a rules package for their impeachment probe of President Donald Trump through a divided House," and failing to note until the 22nd paragraph that Republicans have been calling for such a vote for weeks, as Media Matters pointed out.
Other outlets, including NBC News, CNN and the Washington Post, ran front-page stories on the way partisan polarization shaped the vote and is driving the polling on impeachment.
These stories are tough, because, in one sense, it's technically true that the vote and the polling shows that Americans are deeply divided, by party identity, on the issue of impeachment. But that framework misses the larger story: The reason for this deep division is that Republicans, both voters and their representatives, have completely abandoned any respect for democracy and rule of law, choosing instead the cult of personality around a flagrant criminal. It ignores that Democrats value the truth and Republicans are awash in lies. It equates the two sides in a way that is not justified by looking at the bigger picture.
The "both sides" frame, in other words, hides the fact that this situation is very a one-sided problem.
One shining exception in the coverage was another front-page story at the Washington Post that looked away from the "both sides" frame and focused on the real story, which is how the Republican Party has become an authoritarian cult.
The story, written by Washington Post staffer Griff Witte, follows what happened to Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., when he ever so gently suggested that it was important "to get all the facts on the table" and said he valued substantive evidence such as the testimony from "professional diplomats" and the fact that Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, had literally admitted to holding up military aid to extort political favors from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Even showing mild interest in the facts, however, led to Rooney getting drummed out of the party by Republican leadership in his district, who saw his curiosity about truth as "an act of supreme disloyalty to a leader they say they have come to revere more than any in their lifetimes."
"I think it’s better when people think," Rooney told Witte when asked if he thought such cultish behavior is good for the country.
Nothing of this sort, or even close to it, is going on with the Democrats. On the contrary, the 2018 midterms, in which the newly elected Democrats who helped take the House of Representatives ran the gamut from centrists to socialists, was a reminder of how ideologically diverse the coalition is. The Democratic presidential primary, too, makes that candidates from the center, the left and everywhere in between are getting support in the polls.
The "polarization" framework is profoundly misleading because it suggests that the two parties are like magnets repelling each other with identical force and velocity. But the real story is that while Democrats have moved modestly to the left on some issues, most of the divisions in the country are the result of Republicans becoming both more fascistic and completely untethered to reality.
This isn't about "both sides" acting in an equal manner. It's about Republicans losing their minds and everyone else, understandably, reacting against that.
Nowhere is this more obvious than on the issue of impeachment. There's not really any middle ground on the issue of using military aid to blackmail a foreign leader into helping you fabricate lies about your political opponent, as the evidence shows Trump clearly did. This isn't an issue where reasonable people arguing in good faith can disagree. This is a black-and-white, wrong-versus-right issue.
Our mainstream media, with its addiction to "balance" over truth, is manifestly ill-equipped to handle a story where one side is so clearly in the right and the other side is so clearly in the wrong. So reporters and editors hide behind these factual-but-shallow stories that argue the nation is "divided" and "polarized," all while gently gliding over the fact that the division is happening because 40% of the country has abandoned basic decency while the rest of us look on in horror. But as the impeachment process intensifies, it may become harder to maintain the illusion that the issue is polarization, rather than the radicalization of the Republican Party.