Permanent Impeachment — Feature, not Bug: Trump supporters are attacking Speaker Pelosi for floating the idea that she might file new articles of impeachment. But new articles of impeachment may be a great idea, especially for Trump supporters — and especially if they come toward the end of the year, around election time. Or even after the election. Here’s why:
A big underlying problem for Trumpists in 2020 is that it’s hard to think of a scenario in which Trump’s second term improves on his first. (I’ve been trying to write an op-ed arguing for such second-term success. This piece has yet to materialize.) You know the arguments against it: Trump will be a lame duck, unaccountable to voters, which usually makes for a dreary second term in the best of times. His restraining advisers will have left him. He'll be more confident, more trusting of his own instincts — always perilous for egomaniacal pols who fancy themselves the one person who can stride onto the scene and cut the deal nobody else could.
In particular, there's a reasonable fear that Trump will sell out on his signature issue, immigration. He's already dropped clues -- promising a "path to citizenship" for H1B workers a year ago, hinting at a “much bigger deal” down the road involving amnesty, repeatedly claiming he’s created so many jobs that “we need people” (he recently had a standoff with Laura Ingraham about that). What if he’s reelected and stops building the wall? The wall's important to Trump’s base, but will the base be important to Trump anymore? What's to stop him?
Impeachment can stop him, that's what. If Trump still has impeachment -- and potential removal -- hanging over his head when he takes his second oath of office in 2021, he won't be able to afford to piss off Republican senators. More precisely, he won't be able to afford to piss off the Trump voters who are keeping those senators in line. Many Republican senators hate Trump already, and privately see grounds for removal. But they’re prevented from voting their passions by the huge majority of GOP voters who disagree with them. If those voters lose interest in defending Trump, the shackles come off and, in any Senate trial, Trump’s in real jeopardy.
Permanent impeachment won't empower Pelosi's Resisters, in other words. It’ll empower Trump's deplorables, because Trump will still need them. In effect, impeachment can be the anti-dote to lame duck insularity, reestablishing the accountability to voters that the term limit of the 22d Amendment takes away.**
I'm not arguing for impeaching every President in his second term. It’s a legalistic, emotion-draining way to try to correct for the ill-advised two-term limit. Usually there are bonds of ideology and party loyalty constraining even popular second-term presidents. Trump seems a special case — someone you really might not want to see unleashed.
I'd feel much better voting for him again if he were impeached multiple times.
** The other obvious mechanism of accountability (forcing Trump to pay some heed to voters) would be a desire to retain influence, in particular by starting a dynasty. I guess I don't think this is a very powerful mechanism because I don't take an Ivanka candidacy very seriously. But Trump might want to anoint other potential successors. Neither of his two immediate predecessors seem to have found that course appealing, however.
Putting the Barr back in Embarrassment: I always figured Attorney General William Barr to be a person of probity — a slicker customer than his predecessor, to be sure, but someone with a reputation to maintain. Yet it’s hard to see how such a person could have reviewed the evidence presented in 60 Minutes’ report on Jeffrey Epstein’s death and summarily conclude that Epstein committed suicide. The CBS report, which features experts on both sides, spends a lot of time on Epstein's hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage, which apparently were fractured in three places. I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV, so I have no opinion about that. But forget the hyoid bone. Look at Epstein's neck wound (above). You don't have to be a medic to conclude that this wound wasn't made by one of the looped orange sheets found in Epstein's cell (with no blood on them).
It sure looks like the wound was made by something much thinner -- e.g. a wire or a cord. Plus there was another cord in the cell (an electric cord for a sleep apnea machine) that would be a better bet than a bedsheet if you were going to hang yourself, but that apparently wasn’t used. Plus there was an unexplained hypodermic needle mark. Plus it turns out that not only was the camera inside Epstein's cell block not working for some mysterious reason, the video's of Epsteins first alleged suicide attempt has been permanently lost by the Feds due to “technical errors.” …
The latter video was supposed to be preserved after a request by the lawyer for Epstein's then-cellmate, Nicholas Tartaglione, who was seeking to exonerate his client. But why weren't they asked to be preserved by Barr, if Barr really wanted to "get to the bottom” of the killing?
For the first time, it seems plausible that Barr doesn't want to know what actually happened. Why might that be? Maybe he doesn't want to deal with all the fuss. Maybe he’s protecting someone. Maybe it's simply too embarrassing to admit that one of the highest profile prisons overseen by his department is (as I've heard) effectively run by an ethnic gang — a gang able to execute its most important prisoner at will. Or maybe ... well, you know where the explanations go from there. …
P.S.: Clearly, it’s time for the Associated Press to call more professors to explain how people could believe "conspiracy theories" about the Epstein case even though the official accounts say otherwise. It seems these theories gain credence because they ”speak to concerns some Americans have about concentrations of wealth and power,” as Professor Eric Oliver of the University of Chicago tells us. Well, allright, then.
Esprit de L’eschaton: Will the country be ripped apart if Trump's reelected? And won't voters worry about that? Three (3) brief thoughts after Newsletter # 18 (which argued that the answers are yes and yes):
1. In December, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill allowing federal judges to perform weddings, because some of the judges might be Trump appointees! "Trump does not embody who we are as New Yorkers,” explained Cuomo. This is pretty crazy, and if Democrats are acting this crazy before Trump's been reelected what will they do after? I mean, how can Gov. Cuomo let possible Trumpists — including people who actually voted for Trump! — teach New York children? What if they teach something New Yorkers aren't?
2. An alert reader (I think it was Fred Bauer) argued that it will be a lot harder for the resistance to go berserk if Trump decisively wins the popular vote. a) Probably, but are we sure? Losing the popular vote too would be even more humiliating for the Resistance, and maybe drive more of the humilated into anti-constitutional lines of reasoning. (What if future generations voted? What if the oceans voted? etc.) b) Let's suppose a Trump popular vote victory would calm things down. That's not enough to win over voters worried about post-2020 bedlam -- they have to know before the election that Trump will win such a decisive victory and that therefore they can vote for him without the worries. It's a virtuous cycle -- if Trump looks like he'll win big, he's more likely to get more votes and win big. I leave it to Brad Parscale to pull this off. So far, it look as if he's pursuing a relatively narrow Electoral College victory, which would be the wrong signal to send, by this logic (even if he wants merely to win a narrow Electoral College victory).
3) Aren't there any issues on which Trump might move left and appease some Resisters (to the extent that, even if they don't vote for him they won't go crazy if he wins)? Hmm. An immigration loosening will be the one pushed by ... well, everyone in the MSM — but if Trump sells out on immigration he loses his base. And if he sells out on the taxes he loses business. Isn't the obvious candidate the environment? Does Trump’s base hate environmental protection? I have my doubts. (For one thing, the major immigration-control organizations all initially sprang from environmental concerns -- if you scratch them hard enough, you'll get down to the Zero-Population-Growth movement.) And does big business really hate environmental protection -- or does environmentalism lend itself to chummy big business-government compacts, the sort of oligopolist corporatism in which the Fortune 500 thrives. (Example: Big automakers may not be all that unhappy with fuel economy or pollution standards that only big automakers can meet.) Austrian populists have already shown the way toward this Enviro-Populism ...