Sunday, February 2, 2020

Thanks, Mitch

Image via123RF.

Impressed by this observation from Jonathan Chait:
McConnell’s desired process of muscling through a wildly unpopular vote to suppress all evidence, followed by a vote to acquit, would rob the outcome of much of the legitimacy Republicans crave. It is instead widely and accurately seen as a cover-up...
McConnell may have finally made the miscalculation we've been dreaming of, that will shock voters out of their feeling that nothing seriously wrong has been going on, as I keep saying with reference to the Watergate scandal, when public support for impeaching and removing Nixon shot up from around 48% to 57% in a couple of weeks after the Supreme Court ruled 24 July that Nixon had to hand over the original White House tapes to Congress (he'd given them edited transcripts in April and the polling had hovered just below a majority for the three months).

They didn't get the story of how the CREEP and the Mitchell Justice Department and the Casey CIA and mad Nixon and his lieutenants had worked to create a kind of secret government inside the government to punish Nixon's enemies and reward his friends—very many people, maybe most, continued to suppose the "third-rate burglary" of Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel was the whole of the crime—but they could see there was a coverup. And, as they say, "It's not the crime, it's the coverup," meaning not that the coverup was worse than the crime but that the coverup was the perspicuous index of how bad the crime was, if you couldn't quite follow the latter.

It's fun to remember that the Trump scandal started with a robbery of the Democratic National Committee too, when WikiLeaks began publishing the stolen emails and High Commissioner Downer remembered that peculiar conversation he'd had with young Papadopoulos. The scope of this misbehavior was hard for the public to grasp too, or even impossible, and a couple of years in, after Special Counsel Mueller's investigation of a limited part of it was finally published and didn't set everybody on fire, it left a lot of us feeling as if they'd never get it. But then at the end of August we started hearing about an unexplained hold on military aid to Ukraine in its struggle against neo-imperialist Russia—the country where Trump's peculiar personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani had been "investigating" Vice President Biden in the spring—and the report of a CIA whistleblower bringing these two strands together through the story of a phone call in which Trump leaned on the new Ukrainian president to sponsor those "investigations", and we started thinking we had something that people really would get, as the ineluctable evidence started pouring in.

Which may or may not have been the case; I think I detected the political press getting a little fatigued fairly early in the process, and turning as it went on from the question of what Trump did to their preferred question of who was going to win, which was not helpful since McConnell winning could never be in serious question. And it didn't seem very likely that the Supreme Court was going to help force the evidence Trump was hiding into the open in anything like the way it did in 1974, at least not until it was too late to make a difference.

Nevertheless the public did start taking a lively interest in witness testimony, especially as we started seeing the video, and you could certainly see the possibility that people really would start seeing this the way we saw the Watergate burglary back in the day, as a kind of metonymic representation of the unfathomable corruption of the Trump administration, a miniature picture of the whole.

Chait realized that there was a look of this playing into Republican hands, tactically, by encouraging delay, but what I so much like about the piece is his seeing another possibility:
But what if you assume... that the cover-up affixes the blame onto Republicans? That the sheer nakedness of their methods liberates Democrats from the self-imposed constraint of respecting the election-year norm? They can keep digging into Trump from next week through fall, keeping public attention not only on his corruption and abuse of power but also on the Republican conviction that abuse of power is permissible.
McConnell's dick move of taking the witnesses out of consideration, as the whole population has begun clamoring for them, may have made this start to happen.

A few weeks ago the Republican complaints of a witch hunt motivated by a mysterious personal animosity against our lovable orange-hued leader ("You've wanted to impeach him since the day he took office," "You're just throwing spaghetti at the wall," etc.) had some reach, as we did kind of keep changing the subject from Trump's foreign intrigues to his financial misdeeds to his mistreatment of women, and back again, as the broad public failed to understand the magnitude of it all. Now McConnell has made it clear: they're hiding all that stuff, and we're licensed to keep digging.

As more stuff keeps coming out:

And the danger of keeping him in office becomes clearer:

And the Republican wall is breached by the strange and detached figure of Willard Mitt Romney, who's realized how little power Trump and McConnell have to hurt him: what if they won't invite him to their kegger?

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