I just saw this item at the Guardian just now. It’s the #3 story there, with a Live caption by it, blinking. I hadn’t seen anything here about it yet, so I thought I’d weigh in, lightly.

The Guardian reports (emphasis in the original):

On January 6, “Republican tempers were running so hot against Trump that forcing them to choose sides in the Senate that week could easily have resulted in his impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from any future run for the White House,” The Intercept reported, based on the forthcoming book “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump.”

I have to admit, at first even I was tempted to bite at this obvious, tantalizing bit of revisionist history: Wouldn’t it have been nice if Trump had been held accountable, really and truly, during his final impeachment? What would the world have been like had that been our timeline?

I have to admit, I’ve attempted to think along these lines . . . but only sometimes, and even then the fantasy just runs out. That’s just not where we are.

Had the House gone through with impeaching Trump that very evening, a vote to convict may have won the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to succeed, removing Trump from office and barring him from running again.

Y’all remember that day? I sure as shit don’t remember anyone ever suggesting an impeachment vote that evening. The police were still trying to secure the Capitol building. Lawmakers just wanted to discharge their constitutional duties and certify the election results. That was their main focus as the day wound down.

I don’t remember hearing a peep, and I have been one of those liberal/leftists over the last twenty years who has felt the ban hammer has not come down enough times at certain points. The thought didn’t cross my mind at all. At least, not as the vote for such transpiring that very day.

I never would have considered that in the realm of possibility. It was not a priority at that time.

Thankfully, the article does not leave the reader in that much hyperbolic suspension—one can only inflate that balloon so much, and no matter how eagerly one blows into it, it’s not going to turn into float away. This is a null fantasy.

Reality was much more tepid. The Democrat-controlled House did vote to impeach Trump a week after January 6, and a month later, when he had already left the White House, the Republican-held Senate took a vote on whether to convict him.

So, here is the question:

What changed so much within that short window of time that Republicans felt free enough to fail to hold the man accountable?

From what I understand, from recollection of articles at the time, it was due to internal polling. Within two weeks, the GOP had numbers from voters on the ground, and the numbers apparently were good enough at the time for GOP senators to decide to neglect their actual constitutional duty. We had a lawless executive who’d convinced some of his following to attack an entire branch of government. And those very people he’d had his followers attack went to the Senate chamber to pay even stricter fealty to the leader of their party.

What had changed in that time? If I am wrong, please correct me, but I would wager that right-wing media had worked their audiences for all they were worth in order to 

  • Downplay the severity of the attack.
  • Shift blame for the attack.
  • Deny the attack.

I don’t know what they were doing, if anything, with the eventual martyrdom of Ashli Babbitt. I don’t know what other angles they may have been playing; I have avoided Fox as a news source . . .  wow, pretty much ever since the GWB’s Iraq War. (I’m old enough to remember both Iraq wars. I mean OIL OIF.) (That link is NSFW; sorry. Dave Chappelle.)

I also recall 2021, where an amazing thing happened the week of Derek Chauvin’s conviction. I wrote about it at the time:

The frightening thing is that when CBS compared two different polls from last week, they found that the one taken Tuesday through Thursday had conservatives approving of the verdict of guilty by a 3-to-1 ratio among other conservatives. The second poll, however, spanning from Wednesday to Saturday saw approval versus disapproval shrink to a 54%-46% margin. Basically, the power the rightwing media silo swung public opinion among their core audience by 20+ points within a 48-hour window, by the sheer force of repetition of the same talking point. The convergence of agreement among several rightwing pundits made the novel idea appear more salient (if one applies the precepts of confirmation bias).

What would be the advantage of right-wing media outlets deliberately hoodwinking their audience? Might this circumstance amount to an experiment to see how effective propaganda can be? Considering the polls above, the data seem to bear out that public opinion can be swayed within a mere 48 hours. That’s significant. A twenty-point drop in approval of any otherwise neutral position is extraordinary to witness, let alone how even more stunning it would be to manifest that swing into being. We see the power of concentrated, reverberating, monovocal point-talking, especially when it relates to material of the culture wars.

I think that’s what came into play in the days and weeks after January 6th. Instead of standing up for law and country, Republican Senators decided to simply play senators on TV. Sure seemed like they were playing to audience choice.

As it turns out! The very day after the insurrection, January 7th, both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both called for Donald Trump’s impeachment.

So the real question is: why is anyone blaming anyone other than the party that continues to support THAT MAN?

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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