Should Donald J. Trump be impeached: Should Donald J. Trump be impeached and removed from office?
We were surprised by the extent to which we agreed with Fred Hiatt's column about this question in Monday's Washington Post.
We tend to default to the idea that our system runs on elections, not on impeachments—and to the idea that this basic presumption should stand. Hiatt was in the same ballpark that day. We tended to agree with the bulk of what he said:
HIATT (6/3/19): [T]here remains a principled case against a rush to impeach.We were surprised to see someone giving voice to a fundamental principle. Donald J. Trump was elected by 63 million American citizens. We weren't numbered among them, but a very serious offense should be required before members of Congress step in to reverse the decision they made.
The strongest argument for impeachment may be that Trump is unfit for office. He lies; he divides; he flouts constitutional norms, embraces dictators and spews hateful rhetoric. He is ignorant and impetuous, temperamentally and philosophically unfit.
All true. In fact, our editorial board said as much when he was nominated in 2016. “Uniquely unqualified to serve as president,” we wrote. “A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.”
I think we’ve been proved right. But that is precisely the point: We thought his unfitness was evident before he was elected, and Americans chose him anyway. (No, he didn’t win the popular vote. But he won.) He is endangering the future of the planet—but we knew he was a climate denier. He ripped children from their parents at the border—but his racism and anti-immigrant animus, like his contempt for the Constitution, were no secrets.
To impeach him now for what the electorate welcomed or was willing to overlook isn’t the democratic response. The right response is to defeat him in 2020.
We were surprised to see Hiatt give voice to this basic principle. Respect for Others is virtually non-existent in our current political culture. For what it's worth, Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), a despondent group of scholars who report to us from the years which follow Mister Trump's Disordered War, have told us that our floundering species was always hard-wired to behave this way toward those from other tribes.
At any rate, impeachment does exist within our constitutional framework. Has Donald J. Trump engaged in conduct serious enough to justify impeachment and removal from office?
We'll have to say that we find the case underwhelming, especially so with Mueller the God slipping and sliding about. The children are jumping up and down on Deadline: White House and other "cable news" programs. But we've moved from finding them unconvincing to finding them disgusting, offensive, insulting, baldly demagogic and not quite recognizably human.
To us, Nicolle Wallace's "favorite reporters and friends" are basically performing a "cable news" version of Groundhog Day. Every day, rain or shine, these favorites are shocked, just shocked, all over again, by whatever Trump has said or done in the preceding ten minutes.
They're performing a corporate stage show; business has been good. But as we watch them go around "the table" performing their state of daily shock, we think of what Nestor, the seasoned charioteer, said to the headstrong young Diomedes near where the breakers crash and drag, when western culture was young:
THE ILIAD (Book IX): All the Achaeans shouted their assent,We think Professor Fagles' translation gets it just about right. And as with Nestor, who always gave the best advice, we'd have to say so too now.
stirred by the stallion-breaking Diomedes' challenge.
But Nestor the old driver rose and spoke at once.
“Few can match your power in battle, Diomedes,
and in council you excel all men your age
But you don't press on and reach a useful end."
As in her earlier days, when she labored in support of torture, war, gay-baiting and death, Wallace remains an unbelievably eager stampeder of rubes. But in our view, she and her favorites never press on toward "a useful end:"
They never discuss a basic question Wallace asked, then instantly dropped, on Wednesday's program—is it possible that Donald J. Trump is mentally ill or cognitively impaired? (Transcript tomorrow.)
It never enters their tiny small heads to ponder another basic question—how might they, and others like them, persuade Trump supporters to rethink their stance?
Meanwhile, MSNBC's treatment of Trump's alleged crimes increasingly stands as an open insult to the channel's viewers. On last evening's Eleventh Hour, we saw what seemed to be one of the worst such discussions we have ever seen.
It seemed to us that Brian Williams and Mimi Rocah were extremely bad. In support of the groupthink they had established, it seem to us Gene Robinson was just disgracefully faux.
We're going to watch the tape again and discuss the segment tomorrow. But it had been a fairly long time since we'd wondered if the people we see on cable news might really be some sort of alien life-form. Brian, Mimi and Gene seemed so fraudulent last night that we found ourselves wondering again.
David Brooks makes a basic mistake today. This is what he says:
BROOKS (6/7/19): I don’t know about you, but I walk into this next chapter of American life with a sense of hopefulness and yet great fear. America needs to have a moment of racial reconciliation. History has thrown this task upon us."Nobody wanted it, but it came?" Plenty of people wanted that war, some for defensible reasons.
But we Americans are not at our best when we launch off on holy wars. Once you start assigning guilt to groups, rather than to individuals, bad, illiberal things are likely to happen. There’s a lot of over-generalized group accusation in both these narratives.
I’m haunted by that sentence in Lincoln’s second inaugural: “And the war came.” Nobody wanted it, but it came.
Others wanted it because of the way our brains have been wired reaching back into prehistory. Such people are crawling all over cable, some with the blood of the children of Iraq visible on their sleeves.
You see remarkable people on cable these days. "This is all we ever were," several future experts have told us.
Tomorrow: Wallace asks what's wrong with Trump. Gene agrees to agree.