Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Impeachment Takes Time


There's some really interesting news out of the Reuters-Ipsos poll (h/t Scott Stedman), which has found, in polling conducted Thursday through this morning, that Trump's approval rating has dropped 3 percentage points since the Mueller report was released, to its lowest level of the year to date in that poll, 37%. Although—and this is important—support for impeachment remains pretty weak.

The really startling thing is the share Republicans are taking in the result, with the total number approving Trump at 75%, down from 83% in late March. That's a lot!

And it's pretty reminiscent, once again, of what started happening to Richard Nixon in February 1973, when the Senate Select Committee began its hearings, and continued on to October, and the Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon's approval rating somewhat stabilized at very low levels; note particularly how the Republican vote, the red line in the chart below, sinks from 90% at the beginning of the plunge to hover around 50% for the duration.

That was about five months before the House Judiciary Committee got Judge Sirica to give them the secret grand jury report on the indictments of Mitchell, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Colson, Gordon C. Strachan, Robert Mardian, and Kenneth Parkinson, in which Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, at the beginning of March, and seven months before House Judiciary started calling its investigation an "impeachment inquiry" in early May.

After which things began to move pretty swiftly, with the Articles of Impeachment passed in late July, and Nixon resigning a week or so later, after the famous delegation of senators, led by Barry Goldwater, told him they would vote to convict.

I want to say this because I know a lot of our friends are getting very fretful over the question of why Trump hasn't been impeached yet, and what's wrong with Pelosi, and so on, and they need to be assured that, to paraphrase all the restaurants I've ever worked in, Good Impeachment Takes Time.

And that the most important prep work is not in the Speaker's office, or even that of the House Judiciary chairman, but in the public, which the Ipsos poll suggests now may finally be starting to happen, but public disapproval of the president is a leading indicator, and support for the traumatic business of impeachment lags. And the the Judiciary Committee's work can get done in large part without calling it an impeachment, as Jerry Nadler's committee has in fact been doing since January, and as Peter Rodino's committee did for at least two months in 1974. You don't have to call it an impeachment inquiry to get the work done.

And that this one is moving with really remarkable speed—I see that the immeasurably calm Elijah Cummings, chairman of is ready to start talking about it ("Trump’s conduct laid out in the section of the redacted Mueller report about obstruction was 'at least 100 times worse' than what former President Bill Clinton came under scrutiny for"). And my current favorite presidential candidate is going farther than that (I'm not sure her timing is right, thoug).

I'm trying to say, please keep your shirt on, everybody. Don't pick fights with Democrats, Nancy Pelosi in particular, even if she takes a dismissive tone that makes you feel ignored. Don't pick fights with Bernie Sanders either, any more than you can help. What's important, and within our power as outsiders, is to keep clarifying for the public, the party that should really count in this frequently democratic republic, what a weird situation we are in at the moment, with a president who is both a mob capo and an incompetent clown. As The People begin to understand this, at least if they do, they will drive the process, as they did in 1973-74 and as they are supposed to do. That's what it's all about.

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