SYNDICATED COLUMN: Republicans May Impeach Trump

Image result for ryan for president

Campaign Ad: Paul Ryan for President 2020.

Speaker Ryan speaks into the camera.

“Impeaching a president from my own party wasn’t an easy decision,” Ryan says, looking sober as footage of disgraced former president Donald Trump departing the White House for the last time appears.

“Sometimes principle” — he pauses for a half-beat — “comes before party.”

A full beat.

“Country always comes first.”

Narrator: “He stood tall when America needs him most. Ready to make the tough decisions when they matter most. Paul Ryan for President.”

explainersmall

Trump-haters want Democrats to push for impeachment. Setting aside the Dems’ congenital cowardice and the arithmetic — a minority party can’t impeach anyone — the real danger to Trump is his nominal Republican allies.

On the surface, Congressional Republicans appear to have been shocked and awed by the president’s surprise victory and ideologically aligned with a Trump Administration whose hard-right cabinet is prepared to grant every item on the GOP’s wish list. But you don’t have to look hard to see that the pre-November split between the party’s old guard (Ryan, John McCain, Mitch McConnell) and the Trump insurgency remains.

The Donald struts the marbled corridors of the capital, his head held high like Caesar. Beneath their togas, the senators’ sharp knives await.

This is speculation, but I bet Republicans with presidential ambitions — Ryan, Rubio, Cruz, Paul — have already grokked that Trump’s days are numbered. Odds makers agree. Whoever takes credit for bringing down a feared and reviled leader will rid themselves of a rival and reap rewards up to and including the highest office in the land.

Barely one month after taking office, Trump’s approval ratings are tumbling into territory historically belonging to presidents mired in scandals and unpopular wars. Voters tell the latest Quinnipiac poll Trump is dishonest and doesn’t care about people like them. Trump’s numbers are within a rounding error of Richard Nixon’s during Watergate.

Right now, Donald Trump is constitutionally impeachable over his temperament and his brazen violations of the emoluments clause. But nothing will happen until he’s politically impeachable. Trump would have to commit a crime or mistake so colossal and irredeemable that mainstream voters of both parties would find him repugnant.

If I’m Ryan or Cruz or some other crafty GOPer, I’m thinking to myself: every president screws up eventually. But this guy Trump will definitely screw up big. Given his manic pace, his Waterloo will occur sooner rather than later.

Whatever form it takes — provoking a war, crashing the economy, corruption, one authoritarian move too far, conspiracy and obstruction of justice — the inevitable Trumpian disaster leaves House and Senate Republicans with a stark choice. Defend him or stand back silently, and Trump drags the Republican Party along with him as he flames out. Or they can throw him under the bus.

Remember, they never liked him in the first place.

Plan B is far more appealing. Becoming the party of impeachment at a time when impeachment is popular transforms crisis into opportunity, allowing Republicans to cleanse their Trump-era sins (trying to repeal the increasingly well-received Obamacare, paying for the Great Wall of Mexico with deficit spending, etc.) and seize the moral high ground in one swoop. Vice President Mike Pence takes the helm, steadies the ship, promotes their right-wing agenda with more grace than his former boss, and Ryan and his buddies prepare for 2020.

As for the Democrats, this scenario leaves the party even more damaged than it is today. If they leave the task of deposing a wounded Donald Trump to the Republicans, they’ll likely never recover.

Still seething over the DNC’s shabby treatment of Bernie Sanders, the progressive base would consider the party completely discredited and hopelessly moderate for failing to lead the charge against Trump. Swing voters, and not a few Democrats, will give Team Ryan credit for their integrity in taking down one of their own. I can imagine the Warren wing forming a new Progressive Party, leaving the Democrats at less than half its current level of support.

Dems could dodge this looming catastrophe by declaring all-out war against the president. For example, Democratic lawmakers could shut down Congress, and thus deny Trump his entire agenda, by denying a quorum — i.e., failing to show up until the president agrees to resign. There are many ways to obstruct. But creating a constitutional crisis would require balls — something in short supply among Congressional Democrats.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditDigg thisShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

12 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Republicans May Impeach Trump

    • «All Ryan has to do to win the Republican nomination and win the Oval Office is to declare Tom Cotton his running mate.» Thomas Bryant Cotton ? Mein verehrter Lehrer, I see you continue to be a local patriot, even if displaced…. 😉

      Henri

  1. «Whatever form it takes — provoking a war, crashing the economy, corruption, one authoritarian move too far, conspiracy and obstruction of justice — the inevitable Trumpian disaster leaves House and Senate Republicans with a stark choice. » Ted, my impression is that US presidents gain voter approval by provoking a war – at least in that war’s initial stages – Mr Bush the lesser, for example, was not impeached for his (and Mr Cheney’s) war on Iraq and that Mr Clinton was impeached nothing to do with his war on Serbia. The economy crashed on Mr Bush the lesser’s watch in 2008, but no acts of impeachment were raised against him. Corruption ? A universal, no US presidents, no matter how corrupt they and their associates have been – think Warren Gamaliel Harding (whose reputation may very well be coloured by the fact that, unlike his predecessor, the noble Woodrow Wilson, he worked against the Klan) – have been impeached for that offense….

    That leaves «obstruction of justice», of which Mr Nixon would have run afoul had he not decided, presumably in return for a pardon by his successor, to resign before the House could vote on articles of impeachment. Is their sufficient evidence for such a charge to be made against Mr Trump today ? Colour me doubtful ; while he may very well, if provided enough rope, succeed in hanging himself, this early in his term he doesn’t seem to have gone so far….

    «Plan B [i e, impeaching and then dismissing Mr Trump] is far more appealing. Becoming the party of impeachment at a time when impeachment is popular transforms crisis into opportunity, allowing Republicans to cleanse their Trump-era sins (trying to repeal the increasingly well-received Obamacare, paying for the Great Wall of Mexico with deficit spending, etc.) and seize the moral high ground in one swoop. Vice President Mike Pence takes the helm, steadies the ship, promotes their right-wing agenda with more grace than his former boss, and Ryan and his buddies prepare for 2020.» I’m not at all sure that that’s such a good alternative for the Republicans, who, if they were to carry it out, would risk losing the solid base they now seem to have in rural and small-town USA. That they and the neocons would much rather have good old Michael Richard Pence than Mr Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is, to my mind, a given, but I suspect they will access the risks of raising article of impeachment as far too high, unless Mr Trump does something that makes even people who don’t read the New York Times, or the Washington Post – of, for that matter, the LA Times – sit up and take notice….

    Professor Fukuyama may have believed that history had come to an end back in the 90s of the last century, but I fear that the only limit that had been reached was in the dear professor’s imagination….

    Henri

    • When you’re right, you’re right, Henri.

      — provoking a war, crashing the economy, corruption, one authoritarian move too far, conspiracy and obstruction of justice —

      has never stopped the pub-lickin’s before, I don’t see how they can possibly start complaining at this late date. The sole silver lining is that the bastids compete with each other rather than cooperating – they’re just looking for an excuse that will play to their base.

      • «The sole silver lining is that the bastids compete with each other rather than cooperating – they’re just looking for an excuse that will play to their base.» Agreed, but by attempting to raise articles of impeachment against Mr Trump, rather than playing to it, the Republicans would risk seriously antagonising that base….

        I suspect that there is only one cardinal sin that could provoke the Republican establishment enough to run the risk of an impeachment, i e, an attempt by Mr Trump to remove US sanctions on Russia (he might possibly get away with reducing them a little) and genuinely improve relations with that country. Unremitting hostility towards Russia is the mortar that holds the edifice that is NATO together, and NATO is the preferred instrument for US intervention in Eurasia and lately Africa, and, of course, the gift that keeps on giving for the US military-industrial complex and its vassals abroad. (Threats designed to force member countries and other so-called «partners» – of which Sweden, of course, is one – to increase their military spending, on the other hand, are a plus ; such an increase would, of course, benefit you know whom.) So long as Mr Trump doesn’t cross that red line, I suspect he’s safe….

        Henri

  2. I suspect Trump can’t be removed. He’s like a screwdriver in someone’s head. You can’t just pull it out.
    The Dems, as Ted points out, can’t do anything impeachment-wise. But the Republicans can’t either. Here’s why.

    How did Trump win? First rule of sales. People who are dissatisfied can be induced to buy almost anything if that thing says it will eliminate the source of the dissatisfaction. This applies for everything from viagra to non-stick pans. Watch TV commercials.

    So Trump went on stage and insulted all the politicians. Not polished disagreement insults. He called them names. He treated the entire damned thing like a round of the dozens. Don’t you think the dwindling middle class enjoyed seeing someone finally heap the derisive scorn Donald Trump did on all the career politicians who’ve never done a thing to improve the middle class’ lives?

    And that’s when Trump becomes a screwdriver in your brain. If the Republicans remove him, they’ll have to come through on what Trump promised. And they won’t, because they can’t and because they don’t know how and they don’t want to put in the effort. If the Republicans leave him there and he fails to do anything, Trump will simply blame his failures on the Party, and his supporters will believe it because they don’t care anymore about careful, nuanced analysis of who’s right and who’s wrong. They just want everything to stop hurting and to stop being so scary. They want jobs like existed when their parents were their age.

    I’m hoping for two things at this point:
    1. That Bernie Sanders stays alive and functional until the next election.
    2. That Hillary Clinton doesn’t run for anything.

  3. What you forget–and you are far from alone in this–is that the GOP was all but dead and buried until Mr. Trump came along and breathed new life into it. The Congressional GOP leadership should be grateful, but they are scoundrels and fools. It would also seem that after all of Mr. Trump’s impossible victories over insurmountable odds these past 18 some months, many choose to continue underestimating him. I’d say, “How’s that been working out for you?” but cognitive dissonance is real.

    • Okay, I’ll say it, “How’s that been working out for you?”

      You voted for him ‘cuz you thought he’d help you. So far, he’s done nothing but help the rich. (i.e. not you) Huge tax cuts for the rich at a price of huge deficits in the coming years. Those tax cuts won’t help you but the deficits will most assuredly hurt you. Remember when you used to be concerned about deficits?

      Remember how he said that he’d replace the ACA with something better? So far his only move in that direction is to make the existing coverage worse … but the rich benefit.

      So, yeah, the fact that you’re still supporting this pompous jackass does show that cognitive dissonance is real.

      • So far, he’s done nothing but help the rich. (i.e. not you)

        I’m afraid Trump has done more and less than that.

        He has done more symbolically by taking down the establishment media, regulators, scientists, clerks, etc. another notch. And making feminists and liberal college professors squirm. Priceless?

        He has done less as eventually those regulators and clerks – even though pretty much captured by the corporations – were the last thing standing between “regular folk” and the economic and political might of the super-rich and their corporations. This is not priceless – there will be a definite price to pay.

        Having regulations may feel tiresome and stifling to small business, but at least this gives some stability and standing. Without regulations they still will have to integrate as a small cog into a machine and now be at the complete mercy of those who own, keep lubricated, and redesign on a whim the economic system they’re operating in.

        Try negotiating a price against a big box store who you cannot afford to lose as a customer. Try eking out a profit margin on an internet platform with 100+ competitors (none of whom own or control said platform). For that matter try negotiating a payrise as an employee at any of those businesses – not being able to pay your salary anyway is a pretty strong bargaining position for the boss, now as much a serf as you.

        But hey, if you fail – you only have yourself to blame?

    • Point of order. Trump didn’t reconstitute the GOP. Hillary Clinton’s running for president did that. Had it just been Trump, he probably would have lost (ANY Democratic candidate would have closed the gap in those key states that HRC lost by being HRC).

Leave a Reply