A lot of establishmentarians bruise rear ends from leaping off of Trump bandwagon
Raise your hand if you’ve ever done something the dominant culture considers abhorrent and wrong. Raise your other hand if, at that point, you discovered who your real supporters were -- and just as easily identified the fair weathered friends as they got busy throwing you under the bus tires.
Such is likely the feeling at the White House this morning, a mere couple days before the president who was elected fifty months ago, Donald John Trump, is set to vacate the executive mansion, probably for the final time (unless, of course, the current hysteria dies down and a future conservative president welcomes him back as an honored guest).
If we’ve learned anything from the events of late, it’s that nothing lasts forever and fortunes can literally turn on a dime. The outrage mob, particularly in our day and age of mass communication, split-second video images and paid to be biased commentators discussing happenings in real time, can be particularly harsh. Trump himself once wrote that any publicity was better than none at all, including negative stories. He developed the philosophy before he experienced the full force of hatred from the fake news Washington press corps, however. I wonder if he still believes what he said back then.
At any rate, with the hours remaining in Trump’s presidency dwindling down and the media doing backwards summersaults and various other gestures of celebration, it’s time to take a step back, gain perspective, and assess what it means to have the most effective conservative (at least in the policy sense) politician this century leaving the seat of power. Throughout the struggles and raw emotion of last year’s presidential campaign, it seemed inconceivable that this day would come. But it has. Many, many reject the results of the election, likely justifiably. Yet there is no stalling the inevitable any longer.
Trump delivered an address from the Oval Office last week where he unequivocally disavowed political violence and indicated that anyone who would commit a violent act was not a supporter of his. It was an appropriate and well delivered speech, one many of us wish he’d presented not only a couple weeks back when the capital “protest” was in full fury, but months or years ago to moderate the tone of his presidency. Hindsight is always 2020, but one can’t help but wonder what might’ve been if Trump was less possessed with striking at his enemies and more focused on Making America Great Again. MAGA never lost its steam on the policy front. But the man behind it… well, he made some mistakes.
Then there’s the impeachment thing.
Understandably, it’s said the mood around the White House isn’t exactly a jovial one. Dave Boyer wrote at The Washington Times last week, “Inside the West Wing and among former White House advisers, there was a sense of sadness mixed with frustration that Mr. Trump’s presidency, which ends Wednesday, was concluding on such an ignominious note. Staffers and Trump loyalists used words such as ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘depressing’ to describe their feelings.
“’It’s very sad,’ said former White House domestic policy director Joe Grogan. ‘It’s sad for the country, it’s sad personally. Nobody expected this to happen, and nobody’s happy where the White House is, and nobody’s happy where the country is in the whole thing. The whole thing is awful.’ …
“’He doesn’t have many people around him right now,’ Mr. Grogan said. ‘That’s never a good position for a leader to have, a limited number of perspectives. There is no question in my mind that [the riot and subsequent impeachment] is a direct consequence of a very small, limited number of people giving the president advice … not giving him good advice and giving him self-serving advice.’”
Grogan’s words certainly could be true, though it’s been my impression garnered over Trump’s entire political career that he listens to others but every final decision comes squarely from within his ears. Many supposedly in-the-know have said Trump keeps a counsel of one, and after his life of dramatic achievements and steamrolling his opposition, who could blame him. There’s got to be a lot of sadness at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue today, but curiously enough, I don’t suspect Trump is one of most afflicted. He’s too used to moving forward and not dwelling on the past. I’ll bet he sees being sprung from the Washington swamp as a great chance to go do something else and let the ingrates feed on themselves.
Thankfully the number of Republican defectors on the impeachment vote was reasonably small. Some no doubt took advantage of the chance to vent old personal grudges (Liz Cheney?) and others, from so-called “swing” districts, felt they needed to show “independence” from the Trump MAGA brand. Their reckoning will come in due time. This is one particular vote that people aren’t likely to forget -- or to forgive.
Impeach Trump after leaving office? What rationale for it?
While it’s true that only a relative handful of Republican congressmen and congresswomen went along with Nancy Pelosi’s latest (I was going to say last, but there’s no way that heinous hairdo hypocritical San Francisco old crone is finished with her vendettas against Trump) publicity stunt -- and only about a dozen GOP senators would even entertain the notion of convicting him -- it’s the principle that counts. Republican establishmentarians have never been known to possess much backbone, but the bickering match over post-presidency impeachment should be a no-brainer, for several reasons. It shouldn’t happen, no way, no how.
First, there is no groundswell of support for it at the grassroots level. American politics isn’t strictly a straight-up or straight-down democratic vote on anything, and that’s why we have a republic instead of a democracy. But if you don’t have general popular backing for something you’re doing in Congress, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. This is doubly true for the two political parties, a lesson Democrats are about to relearn if they go ahead with thumbs-down loser initiatives like adding Washington DC and Puerto Rico as states or packing the Supreme Court.
I haven’t seen polling on the impeachment question (meaning, I haven’t looked for it), but I’m guessing there isn’t much sentiment for it outside of the diehards in the Democrat base who would support impeaching and removing any Republican for a trumped-up crime the party’s congressional leadership dreamt up. A GOP precinct captain could cross the street on a “Don’t Walk” signal and these antagonists would swear that it’s grounds for impeachment.
It's doubtful rank-and-file Republicans feel the same way. Trump’s approval ratings remain near the top of his four-year average and his voters haven’t abandoned him in a wholesale way that Democrats and the establishment predicted. This doesn’t mean Trump should run again in 2024 -- or that he’d have a good chance to win -- but his people aren’t walking out on him like the all-politics-all-the-time ruling class is.
Second, this ill-considered action enables Democrats to claim there was “bipartisan support” for impeachment when really there wasn’t. (Here is a list of the GOP turncoats, a who’s who of the Bush/McCain/Romney party establishment mindset headlined by Liz Cheney.)
Republicans were mixed in with Democrats when the collective freak out occurred at the capitol a couple weeks ago. While video proves that most of the Trump supporters, once inside, were there to look around and wonder how it was they were in the vaunted building to begin with, there was an element beating on the doors scaring the bejesus out of lawmakers (in addition to chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”).
The wishy-washy establishment set were probably glad this gave them another excuse to pile on the outgoing Trump and add a little salt to his wounds. Most of them knew he had a legitimate gripe about the way the election was conducted, yet didn’t want to put their hides on the line. Debate will continue as to whether he encouraged a riot or not. But there’s no way this impeachment farce is “bipartisan” anything.
Lastly, a backlash is inevitable, a lesson both the Democrats and establishment Republicans fail to learn, year-after-year-after-year. As predictable as the tides, Democrats believe that every occurrence involving Trump or Republicans signals a sea change in American opinion. They figured, for example, that Barack Obama’s election meant the public really wanted nationalized healthcare and fulfillment of the liberal big government wish list, when it merely indicated that citizens were tired of the rancor of the Bush years (sound familiar?) and that electing the country’s first black president might put an end to the persistent accusations of racism that sit at-the-ready on all Democrats’ tongues, waiting for the right occasion to be unleashed.
Instead, Obama’s and the Democrats’ excess -- including the massive (by 2009 standards, not 2021) stimulus package and bailing out huge corporations -- led to the rise of the Tea Party. Conservatives learned the tricks of grassroots mobilization and Republicans enjoyed a takeover of the House in 2010. The GOP wasn’t able to sustain the momentum, however, because their 2012 presidential nominee (Mitt who?) was a plastic flip-flopping bonehead with no spine.
Likewise, Republican congressional leaders fail to push the conservative agenda forward because they fear a backlash that never materializes. It’s kind of like shadow boxing: the ruling class fights against an enemy that doesn’t exist. So, they don’t make a stink over anything -- like repealing Obamacare -- and they still lose. Wouldn’t America be a better place today if Jim DeMint was party senate leader instead of Mitch McConnell? Or Jim Jordan took the reins after Paul Ryan slinked home to Wisconsin?
This episode over impeaching Trump -- after leaving the White House -- is a continuation of the pattern. It’s all about politics and how much perceived harm would be endured if they backed Trump as a president who’s been treated amazingly unfairly for four years. A real friend is one who walks in while the rest of the world walks out. Don’t let the door hit you on the behind, establishment Republicans!
Novel thought: If Twitter had banned Trump two years ago, he might’ve won in 2020
It goes without saying that conservatives were infuriated when the social media oligarchs unilaterally opted to cut Trump off from his audience by banning him for life from Twitter and Facebook (among others). In doing so they effectively separated him from his best message conveyor at a time when he could’ve been most useful in calling for peace and calm when all heck was breaking loose up the road.
Censorship is bad whenever it happens. It’s contrary to the values the Founding Fathers established for us in what used to be regarded as the freest nation on earth. Imagine a decade ago if someone told you that a group of liberal self-worshipping billionaires chose to ban the president from speaking. No one would’ve believed it.
But let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. What if Jack “Twitter” Dorsey and Mark “Facebook” Zuckerberg had leaped over the edge two years ago for some supposed slight and deemed Trump unworthy of their platforms at that time? The outrage from the common folk wouldn’t have been as muted as it is now -- since many on the liberal left figure Trump “deserves” to be banned because he’s an undisputed leader of an insurrection (their thought, not mine).
Using Twitter in particular has always been a double-edged sword for Trump. He employed it as a means to directly communicate with his base, but let’s face it, he’s also abused it. I’ve recommended a number of times that he find someone he trusted -- like wife Melania or daughter Ivanka -- to serve as a “filter” for his social media habit. Trump got a lot accomplished by his thousands of tweets, but he also did immeasurable and irreparable damage to his political reputation.
If Twitter hadn’t been there -- again, because of a choice the lefty oligarchs made -- would Trump be in a better spot today? It’s something historians and Trump biographers might revisit. Speculation is fun because it doesn’t require being proved or disproved. But in the end, it appears social media did Trump a lot more harm than good. On balance, he was his own worst enemy, a lesson conservatives must take to heart.
There will be much discussion going forward as to how much direct communication is good for a president. Even when the censorship question is sorted out, conservatives will wonder whether too much of a good thing doesn’t always produce the best outcome. Democrats will find impeachment wasn’t a very wise move.