A new article in GQ by Adam Jentleson raises questions about Trump’s tendency to bluff. To not impeach tends to strengthen the falsehood that he’s actually been exonerated. Essentially, political capital lost may never be recovered in 2020.
“The void that House Democrats are ceding to Trump is the space between now and election day. Filling that space with easy messages like health care is not a viable option. And a good rule of thumb of politics is that if you have the power to do something that hurts your opponent, you should do it.”
There are two lessons here for House Democrats as they debate whether to open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
First, polling can change.
I don’t know how else to say this: getting impeached is bad. It is not something you want to happen to you, especially if you’re president. You do not want to go down as one of only four presidents in history to be impeached. This is a bad thing. Only Democrats, bless our hearts, could convince ourselves that it is good for a president to be impeached.
Richard Nixon’s approval rating was at 65 percent when his impeachment process began and only 19 percent of the public supported his impeachment. By the end, the numbers had flipped: his approval was 24 percent and support for impeachment was 57 percent. Former president Bill Clinton survived because he was popular and the man pursuing him, Independent Counsel Ken Starr, was not. The public rightly thought Starr was on a fishing expedition. By contrast, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is popular and the public thinks he is fair, while Trump is historically unpopular. Even though Clinton survived, his heir apparent lost the next election—which he had been heavily favored to win—while Republicans gained seats in Congress.
The second lesson from the Garland experience is that like nature, power abhors a vacuum. The decision not to impeach is not a decision to focus on other things, it is a decision to cede power, control, and legitimacy to Trump. Trump is not a master chess player, he just bluffs his opponents into forfeiting their moves—and that is exactly what he is doing to House Democrats.
"I think Mueller should testify, I think most Americans would like to see the prosecutor make the case." —@neeratanden on why Robert Mueller testifying could be "determinative" as to the public opinion on impeachment
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 4, 2019
Adam Schiff: A.G. Barr is the "second-most dangerous man in the country."
Via Politico pic.twitter.com/bwNWil8tQk
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 4, 2019
Americans rank Barack Obama as the best president of their lifetimes in a new Pew Research Center poll. https://t.co/Yxap6qz6sK
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) June 4, 2019