Impeachment is here

The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 30

This week:

  • Impeachment starts due to liberals’ annoyance with Trump
  • Republicans look ahead to Mississippi runoff
  • Hurd retirement the first serious blow to House Republicans


Orange Man Bad: If you still have liberal friends in this highly polarized political environment, pose this thought experiment to them: They have been given a very specialized time machine, on the condition that they undo one and only one of two presidential elections — either that of George W. Bush in 2000, or that of Donald Trump in 2016. 

So which one would they choose?

The answer should be pretty simple. Bush started the Iraq War. This caused tens of thousands of deaths, including thousands of Americans, and an occupation more than a decade long that was badly mishandled in every way. American victory in that war also strengthened Iran and led to the rise of ISIS. Many liberals would also blame Bush at least partly for the financial crisis.

And yes, perhaps Bush was unfairly given too much of the blame after Katrina, but no one can deny that his administration had a massive failure of competence at the worst possible moment. 

Now compare that to Trump’s administration. There are all kinds of things you can say about how annoying he is, but…well, his presidency hasn’t been that bad. 

The best you can probably do — to address a complaint that has lately regained some currency — is argue in vague terms that he has somehow “emboldened” racial hatreds that have been intertwined with terrorism for decades anyway. 

And…yeah, well, that’s probably the best possible argument for choosing to undo Trump’s election instead of Bush’s. It’s astoundingly weak stuff.

And yet I’m willing to bet that a lot of liberals — perhaps even most of them — would argue for undoing Trump’s election instead of Bush’s. I’d go even further to say that most of them would state that choice, both knowing and admitting that there’s no possible way to defend it.

Impeachment: Why is this? You can link it to the exact same reason Democrats have quietly but openly begun formal impeachment proceedings against Trump. As YouTube commentator Tim Pool put it, they are “satisfying the emotions of those who really don’t like the president.” That’s about right, and it explains Democrats’ entire set of feelings toward Trump.

Here’s the thing about Trump: He annoys liberals very much, but that’s really all there is to it. They tend to be most annoyed by the most superficial and least meaningful parts of his presidency. 

The real reason they want to impeach him because he’s the sort of guy who brags about his rallies’ crowd size at inappropriate times. He buys fast food for college football players. The economy and world affairs are actually not going badly, but Trump is trolling them with Trumpiness 24 hours a day. 

As for actual impeachable offenses, there isn’t much to speak of. The whole Russia thing is a bust, and Democrats look silly at this point trying to make it into something. The obstruction of justice allegation is especially weak in that context — are we really going to impeach the leader of the free world, so that he’s out of office just months before the 2020 election, on the charge that he might have affected investigators’ actions with a few intemperate tweets, given that there wasn’t an underlying crime?

Of course, that isn’t the point. There is a lot of fundraising to be done between now and 2020, and that’s what impeachment is all about.

Governor 2019

Mississippi: To no one’s surprise, Attorney General Jim Hood became the Democratic nominee for governor last week. On the Republican side, the expected result came about as well. Conservative Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and more moderate State Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller advanced to an August 27 runoff. 

Hood is a relatively popular moderate and the last Democrat holding statewide office. But in the general election, either Republican has to be favored, if only because of Mississippi’s unique system: In order to win, a candidate must not only get a popular vote majority but also win a majority of state House districts. Otherwise, the race is thrown to the state House, where the Republican will certainly win.

Senate 2020

Colorado: With no top-shelf candidates in the race against Sen. Cory Gardner, R, and with how own presidential race floundering, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, D, has now met with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss a potential Senate bid. In his spokesman’s words, he hasn’t closed the door on anything. The fact that this meeting even occurred is a warning sign for Gardner, a freshman who already wasn’t taking anything for granted in a state that has become far more Democratic in recent years.

In favor of a run: He’d have a serious chance of winning. Hickenlooper left office a popular governor after two terms (+23 net approval), although his re-election in 2014 was quite narrow. 

Against a run: The serious second-tier candidates already in the race, including former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, will likely not give way to Hickenlooper. Romanoff especially could try to defeat him in a primary by getting to his left flank.

House 2020

Texas-23: Although we did not believe Republicans were facing a House retirement problem last week, this might have changed with the retirement of Rep. Will Hurd. His exit makes a very tough seat much harder to hold. Also unhelpful to the party is his public declaration that his retirement is fallout from the Trump presidency. His seat is notoriously swing-y, having changed hands repeatedly (often due to court-ordered redistricting tweaks) since the turn of the century, when Rep. Henry Bonilla, R, held it.