After all these endless hours of opening statements and grilling of House impeachment managers and President Trump’s defenders, there was one key question not asked.
How do you boot out a rock star? That’s what Donald J. Trump is – right up there with Justin Bieber, Elvis and the Beatles. Book him at Bronco Stadium, and he might outdraw Garth Brooks. Of course, some rock stars have detractors to go along with the admirers, and Trump is no exception. They were on full display during the Senate’s impeachment trial, and after Republicans voted against dragging proceedings into infinity with more witnesses. Minds were made up long before articles of impeachment came to the Senate.
Politicians are good at getting up on their righteous high horses and preaching about the “rule of law,” presidential corruption, along with the mounds of “facts” and “truths” used to back their arguments. We saw a lot of that in the 1990s during President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, and history is repeating itself with Trump.
But the one “fact” that politicians missed, both in the Clinton years and again today, was public sentiment. There was not enough of a public outcry to justify removing either. Clinton’s popularity grew with every ounce of hot air Republicans were spewing in the effort to get rid of him. For Trump, the more that Democrats talk about removing him, the more enthusiastic his rally crowds become.
In New Jersey last week, only 7,400 could get inside the arena to hear Trump. But tens upon thousands of people were outside, clamoring for those seats. As ABC News reported, “Trump supporters had lined up around the block more than 24 hours before the president was scheduled to speak – a not so uncommon occurrence at the president’s campaign rallies.”
Keep in mind, folks, that New Jersey is considered almost as Democratic “blue” as Idaho is Republican “red.” Hillary Clinton carried the Garden State by 15 points in 2016.
Later in the week, Trump crashed Iowa’s Democratic caucus party with a rally in Des Moines. Ryan Lizza, reporting for Politico, described the scene:
“A fire marshal prevented many reporters from getting inside the event, so I watched Trump and Pence on a giant screen outside in 32 degree weather with several hundred Trump loving Iowans. They danced and raised their hands over their MAGA hats when the Village People’s ‘YMCA’ played. They joined arms and screamed along to the chorus of Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA’. … When Trump mentioned his re-election, a bidding war erupted: ‘Four more years! Twelve more years! Thirty more years of Trump!’”
If Trump were to appear in Idaho, he’d get the same kind of reception – overflow crowds with perhaps hundreds (if not thousands) of followers camping outside days ahead of time.
Presidents typically get generous receptions wherever they go. But Richard Nixon, who resigned before the House could get around to impeaching him, was not getting a friendly following as his presidency was winding down.
House impeachment managers (Democrats) did their best to build the case that Trump abused his power by holding hostage military aid to Ukraine in exchange for that country’s promise to investigate the Bidens. You know the story – Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, got this high-paying job with Burisma while his daddy was vice president, and apparently did little more in a year than attend a board meeting or two. It’s nice work if you can get it, and we’ll be hearing much more if Biden wins the nomination.
The House Democratic managers spent some 48 hours rambling with their opening statements, and more time answering questions and closing arguments. And all along, it was well known that the GOP-controlled Senate (including Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch) would nix the idea of removing a Republican president in an election year. Most Republican senators have said that Trump did nothing to warrant impeachment. They could have just as easily yielded to the electricity at Trump rallies.
After November, we’ll have a clear picture about the political fallout from this impeachment mess. But if Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren are the best “alternatives” that Democrats can produce for this election, I suspect that the president will win easily. That would give us four more years of Trump, and no doubt he’d do something to trigger at least another run at impeachment.