"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Fear of an "I" word campaign

Part One of Two

This is almost moot after yesterday's late afternoon activities.  Still, it ties in with them, so it needs to be published.  It's also practically a diptych with the other post this morning, so they are connected by imagery (at least).

I've always thought David Axelrod was mostly a putz:

“If impeachment becomes a political tool instead of the end result of a credible investigation, then you are as guilty as Trump, in some ways, of taking a hammer blow to institutions,” said David Axelrod, former President Barack Obama’s onetime chief strategist, adding that it would also create risks in swing districts. “To say I’m for impeachment come hell or high water is to promise chaos.”

This arises from the GOP deciding it must run on the fear of impeachment in order to motivate its base, which is now all Trump voters or something.  When Democrats are warned against running against Trump alone, this is considered sage advice (people vote for, not against, right?), and certainly running just against Trump is not the single-issue that will turn out masses of voters.  I have yet to see, however, in primary electioneering, or among candidates who are now party nominees, an exclusive focus on being against Trump.  Some campaign material mentioned his name, but it also mentioned issues like education, transportation, air quality, flood control (this is Houston), etc.  Still, it seems wise:  don't expect to win simply by saying "Trump!! Ooga-booga!"

So why has the GOP finally found its silver bullet?  As Charlie Pierce points out, the punditpcracy and the New York Times are gravely concerned (along with Mr. Axelrod) that Democrats are making a grave mistake to even mention the word "impeachment."  Except the only people mentioning the word impeachment are:  Republicans.

One of the candidates employing the strategy is Trump’s old foil Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. He is facing a well-liked and well-funded Democrat. In his election kick-off video, Cruz screened a fake news video featuring an actor reading headlines that would scare his supporters.

“Senate Majority Leader Schumer announced the impeachment trial of President Trump,” one of the actors says.

That's the first campaign video released by the Cruz campaign.  It's not an argument for Ted Cruz; it's fear-mongering smear against Beto O'Rourke.  I suppose we should take a cue from the Republicans:

Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a member of the House Republican leadership, predicted that the possibility of impeachment would divide the hard left from the broader political mainstream.

“It separates their base from reasonable, rational people that decide elections,” said Mr. McHenry, noting that this bloc of the electorate does not “want to put people in power that are going to create complete chaos and in essence shut down any potential legislative progress.”

He has a point:  why vote at all if all you're going to get is the status quo, right?  Don't want to elect someone who vows to make the President a one-term President, or who think his greatest achievement in office was blocking as many Presidential appointments as he could.  Right?  Although this is my favorite:

“I can’t even imagine the Democrats would go there,” said Mark Lundberg, the former chairman of the Sioux County Republican committee in Iowa. “Impeachment for what? For being rude to them? That would be so outrageous.”

"Mueller?  I don' know no 'Mueller'!"

We could, as I say, take our cue from Republicans like Mr. Cruz.  Fortunately his opponent, Beto O'Rourke, has declined to do so:

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who is running for Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) seat in November, said Monday he’s seen enough evidence that he would vote to impeach President Trump.

“I’ve seen an attempt, no matter how ham-handed, to collude with a foreign government in our national election. I’ve seen an effort to obstruct justice in the investigation of what happened in the 2016 election,” O’Rourke said on KFYO radio in Lubbock when asked if he thought there was enough evidence to call for the impeachment of the president.

The Democratic lawmaker blasted Trump as lacking the “fitness, or competence or judgment” to serve as president.

He said, however, that an impeachment vote should wait until special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election fully plays out.

“We are not there yet. So I’m going to stay focused on the issues that we can make a difference on right now,” O’Rourke said. 

That, Mr. Axelrod, is how you address the issue.  If Mr. Axelrod is so concerned about the democratic institutions in America, I think Donald Trump has already laid the ax to the base of that tree, and removing not only the ax but the one wielding it hardly seems to be equivalent to simply replacing the lumberjack.  I doubt I would vote for someone simply because they made a solemn campaign promise (you mean like Trump's to make Mexico pay for the wall, because he's the Ultimate Deal-Master?) to impeach the President; but I'm more likely to vote at all, in this atmosphere, for somebody who tells me she/he won't refuse the idea out of hand.

After all, as Mr. Pierce says:

Conservatives spoke quite plainly about their belief that impeachment always was meant to be “a political tool”—Ann Coulter even wrote a book on that subject—just one that had grown rusty from disuse. (Thomas Jefferson called it a scarecrow.) The impeachment of Bill Clinton, undertaken by the House Republicans full in the knowledge that it had no chance whatsoever in the Senate—was the ultimate political act in a series of political acts that began during the 1992 campaign, or even earlier, if Joe Conason and Gene Lyons are to be believed, and they are. And history has shown that, except for a blip in the 1998 midterms, the Republicans have paid no serious political price for what they did at all.

We don't have to bring a knife to a gun fight again, do we?


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