April 29, 2019

Calls to Impeach Trump

Editor’s note: Annafi sat down with Millennial Politics’ Nathan Rubin yesterday to talk echo chambers, launching The Flip Side, and the 2020 race. Have a listen!

Last week, Democratic Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris called for the impeachment of President Trump following the release of the Mueller report. AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is divided, with some arguing that impeachment doesn’t make sense politically, and others urging Democrats to take a stand.

Those against impeachment note that “even a successful impeachment by the House would come screeching to a halt in the Republican-controlled Senate, where chances of the constitutionally mandated two-thirds vote it would take to convict are virtually zero. The only thing the exercise would accomplish is further inflaming both the president’s political base and the opposition. What’s more, the process would probably take a year or more, during which the country would become not only more deeply divided, but thoroughly preoccupied, as anyone who was sentient during the 1998-99 impeachment saga of President Bill Clinton will recall…

There is another option: Either house, could, with a majority vote, formally censure Trump, something that has not happened to any chief executive since the Senate censured Andrew Jackson in 1834. While this would be dismissed in some quarters as merely a symbolic act, it would be a historic rebuke of the Trump presidency — and would, properly, leave it to the voters to decide whether they have had enough of it.”
Donna F. Edwards, Washington Post

“Placing Trump’s removal in the hands of 67 Senators strikes us as too procedural a remedy… Despite the scandals abroad and at home, whether we like it or can even quite explain it, Trump won the general election. His removal from office is best reserved for a similar expression of popular will in 2020… America’s infrastructure needs repair. Working Americans need better-paying jobs and better prospects for advancement. Schools need improvement, and the graduates of those schools need the promise of a more robust and inclusive economy. House Democrats should spend the coming months focusing on those needs and on making the case for why their candidate should win the White House in 2020.”
Editorial Board, Miami Herald

Those who support beginning impeachment proceedings counter that “Madison and Hamilton didn’t say anything about holding off on impeachment because it would be politically risky. It’s hard to imagine they’d put political convenience on the same footing as the security of the Constitution... The Democrats may succeed in avoiding a tumultuous, divisive fight over impeachment now. But if they choose to ignore clear abuses of the Constitution, they’ll also turn a blind eye to the precedent they’re setting and how feckless they’ll look in history.”
Elizabeth Drew, New York Times

Didn’t Republicans pay a political price for impeaching Bill Clinton in 1998? Not really. Even though Clinton was far more popular then than Trump is now — his job approval numbers held fairly steady in the mid-60s before, during and after the failed effort to oust him — and his transgression, lying under oath about sex, was minor compared to the bill of particulars against Trump, the GOP won the presidency and maintained control of both the House and Senate in the subsequent election…

“Yes, it’s possible the voting public would punish the Democrats for taking a strong stand against all the ways Trump has disregarded and trampled on the law. It’s possible a significant number of voters will say, ‘Sure, there’s massive proof that Trump is a lying, narcissistic con man and aspiring tyrant, and if the Democrats would just let it go, I’d gladly support them.’ [But] I doubt it.”
Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune

The political calendar and Trump's approach could give grounds for optimism. Kim, who has presided over a limited form of economic development inside North Korea, is under pressure to deliver improvements in the lives of his people… So he has an incentive to try to seek economic benefits or aid from the United States and wants punishing economic sanctions lifted — a potential opening for US negotiators… Kim must realize that his chances of basking in this kind of legitimacy with a US President other than Trump are slim. So if he fears Trump could lose in 2020, he may reason the time may be ripe for a deal. And Trump wants nothing more than a big diplomatic breakthrough months before the election.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right opposes impeachment, and argues that it would backfire on Democrats.

From the Right

The right opposes impeachment, and argues that it would backfire on Democrats.

“If they try to drag the country through an impeachment process based on allegations that at worst put Trump in a legal gray area, but which most Americans seem to believe amount to iniquity rather than criminality, Democrats almost certainly will feel the stinging whip of a nasty political backlash… The nation’s founders surely did not intend to so destabilize the civic order in cases where guilt is a matter of gray-area interpretation rather than plainly obvious malfeasance.”
Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

“For two years, Trump watched as the investigation dragged on, weighing down his presidency. He had to endure being accused of ‘treason’ and crimes of ‘a size and scope probably beyond Watergate.’ He listened as members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and former intelligence officials, led Americans to believe that they had seen secret evidence showing he had colluded with Russia — evidence he knew did not exist… The lesson of Watergate, we are told, is that the coverup is always worse than the crime. But in Watergate, there was a crime to cover up. We now know that Trump committed no crime…

“Impeachment over anything other than a conspiracy with Russia will backfire with the American people and help ensure Trump’s reelection. First, it will fail, because two-thirds of the Senate will not vote to convict the president. Second, Trump’s supporters will see an impeachment effort as an attempted coup d'état, energizing his base ahead of the 2020 election. And third, it will be seen as partisan and unfair by persuadable voters, who will not appreciate politicians second-guessing the conclusions of an impartial investigation. Want to push Trump’s approval above 50 percent? Try to impeach him.”
Marc Thiessen, Washington Post

“In terms of Donald Trump’s character and habits, there is practically nothing in the Mueller report — or in the public record since 2016 — that voters did not already know when they elected him. And that is really the fundamental argument against impeaching President Trump… a political judgment already has been rendered on Donald Trump’s character — and, if you don’t like how that came out, there’s another chance right around the corner.”
Kevin Williamson, National Review

“There is a reason why the framers of the Constitution envisioned impeachment for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ and not as a back door to a parliamentary system, and that was to provide for a stable system of government where the voters decide who serves in office… We have an election coming up so soon that [candidates] are already holding campaign events. Why not just convince the voters to remove Donald Trump the same way they normally remove unpopular incumbents — by electing their opponents?”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Contrast the extensive record of specific acts by President Clinton to corruptly influence ongoing legal proceedings in federal court (the Paula Jones case and the independent counsel grand jury proceedings), with the obstruction currently alleged to have been committed by President Trump… There is no legal proceeding against Trump in which he has been alleged to have corruptly acted; there is only an investigation (of collusion with Russia) by Mueller that found nothing prosecutable against the current president.”
Bob Barr, Fox News

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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