High party costs for taking the very low road
House Democrats managed a small miracle, boxing in Republicans with no good choices on the impeachment trial or final vote. If cowardly Republicans accepted selected witnesses, they could at least have boasted of a fair trial, even if painful truths emerged. But to categorically deny screamingly relevant testimony, that broadcasts “the fix is in, the trial is a fraud.” Now, significantly, the Republican Senate shares the guilt of presidential obstruction of justice. Good job! Cornered rightwingers turned what could have been a mild plus—with empty Trumpian cries of acquittal and “innocence”—into a self-generated calamity with 2020 electoral downsides.
Impeachment thus worked just as Democrats planned. So much for tepid whiners, “Why impeach? the Senate won’t convict, then Trump can bellow exoneration.” He will bellow, but the fallout cost just went sky high. Now we have two guilty parties convicted by their own crimes and self-revelations. Good news: I project dire outcomes for an entire party that shamelessly, openly commits complicity, conspiracy and betrayal of its own Constitutional mandates. What I suggested for months—that the Trump Trauma will impair Republican national strongholds—is coming to pass. Hell, the damage just doubled in a week, as every GOP senator up for election (except Collins) must defend the indefensible: denying that this impeachment trial demands full—and accessible —evidence.
The laughable Trump fraud of “No Russian collusion” will now be swamped by the more harmful quip, “No fair trial.” We don’t even have the mock semblance of a fair trial that would have immunized the party from retribution. Just pissed on: the 75% super American majority demanding full disclosure. In short, the Trump party, bending over backwards, found a way to sabotage what could have been neutral, even a gain for the president: the facade of a fair trial, then a predictable acquittal. Like a punctured hot air balloon, Trumpian cries of “exoneration” switched from a plausible sound bite to a political squeak.
GOP propels Democratic campaigning
Is there much doubt the calculated GOP sabotage of the Senate trial provides unmatched fodder for Democratic campaigns? Listen to Republican, ex-FBI chief James Comey, “The way Republicans are acting today means they will inevitably lose power, and for a very long time—an exile they will richly deserve.” Now every race, from dog-catcher to the top dog, is now about the unstable, crooked Trump and sham Trumpism. And best of all, the blunder-prone party of Trump brought it on themselves. Not only does Trump look guiltier than ever (by stonewalling evidence and witnesses), but his obstruction of the Senate (via political leverage) only confirms the second Impeachment indictment, obstruction of the House inquiry. What the Democratic managers did effectively argue—obstruction of Congress—is now needlessly confirmed in stone.
Plus, I find an unanticipated positive: Trump defenders and the Republican Senate found ways to make this president doubly illegitimate. On top of cheating and sponsoring cheating during ’16, badly losing the popular vote, and never once in three years achieving 50% approval, now the criminal president is demonstrably unfit for re-election. Senator veterans like Lamar Alexander openly concede House managers proved the case Trump acted badly (read: broke the law)—all to inappropriately corrupt the 2020 election. Illegitimacy squared never shone more brightly.
The Senate cover-up, driven by conspiracy between the WH and GOP senators, now taints all the parties—and the party itself. Covering up a clumsy cover-up only confirms Trump’s increasing vulnerability, along with Senate enablers. Will centrists and independents, greatly favoring essential witnesses, not recall this disgrace in only a few months? A discredited national party has now pinned its entire destiny on the tail of an erratic, error-prone, self-serving donkey. So much for Moscow Mitch’s reputation for shrewdness: he and his leadership (helped by the sleazy perfidy of Trump legal defenders) got cornered and now look to get burned.
Let us thus take comfort, in these darkest of days, that the Trump circus now infects and will continue to disease the entire Republican Party. Are not Senate Republicans still boxed in, screwed either way they finally vote? If they do the unthinkable and convict, the outraged Trump base will send them packing (or not vote at all), comparable to having “your head on a pike.” If senators “acquit,” as certain, what more clearly confirms full party corruption, letting a scheming, criminal president off the hook? That way lies true deviance, a current or re-nominated goon without checks or balances and with nothing to lose.
Will Trump negatives not rise?
How many in the middle now want another four years of this unholy, incredibly volatile fiasco? I project that many of those Obama-Trump voters will rethink their commitment to a confirmed mob boss president whose desperation is showing (and that means more high risk abuses on the way). I have no doubts there will be much more damning evidence, proving Trump criminality and bad faith, in the next six months—just in time to rock the November election.
Alas, no Democratic 2020 landslide will ever produce 67 Senate conviction votes—were Trump to win another term. But the good news, especially if the Senate turns Democratic, is the prospect of renewed, comprehensive, open impeachment actions—the only check and balance available. That way lies far more accountability than now exists in this slavish, most corrupt Senate in modern history. With modest audacity, I project February 2020 could in a few years represent the peak of national Republican power. Oh, how the mighty can fall when they shoot themselves in diverse appendages, fully embracing a career criminal most Republican bigwigs never originally could stand. Irony still lives.