Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Long And Winding Road Ahead

As much as it pains me to do it, Andrew Sullivan's analysis on where the country goes from here politically after arguably two disastrous weeks for Trump is correct, and that answer is "Trump, his regime and his cultish followers are going precisely nowhere".

These are, it seems to me, the two unstoppable narratives grinding our politics to a halt. The status quo in Washington — an unhinged, unfit, mentally disturbed narcissist as POTUS fast losing any faint credibility with even his own staffers — is utterly unsustainable. In a serious crisis, more than half the country won’t believe a word the president says. The White House is barely functioning; legislation is completely stalled; next week’s trip abroad will have everyone watching from behind a couch; the FBI and CIA are reeling; there’s almost no one in the State Department; no presidential due diligence is applied to military actions; the president only reads memos when his name is mentioned in them; a not-too-smart and apparently mute 35-year-old son-in-law is supposed to solve every problem in the country and world; and the press secretary is hiding in the bushes. No one has any confidence that the president couldn’t throw us into a war or a constitutional crisis at a moment’s notice. Nothing this scary has happened in my lifetime. 
And yet around 35 percent of the country still somehow views every single catastrophe Trump perpetrates on America and the world as either a roaring triumph or a huge middle finger to the elites, and therefore fine. For them, everything is sustainable. When Republicans can shrug off giving top-secret Israeli intelligence to the Russians, there is nothing they cannot shrug off. We are not talking about support for various policies here. We are talking about the kind of following a cult leader has. In poll after poll, around 80 percent of Republicans still approve of the job Trump is doing. Still. That’s why the GOP leadership, even as their agenda evaporates, are leery of taking Trump on. His hold on their own voters is tighter than theirs is. It’s tighter than Nixon’s because Trump has built a reactionary movement from the ground up and taken over an entire party. He can communicate with them in ways no other Republican can. And there is no way on earth he is ever going to go quietly, if he agrees to go at all. 
That’s why I have a hard time figuring out how this ends, even though it must end. Even if the conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation hits some pay dirt, I can see Trump surviving if he cannot be proven to be directly implicated. He’s already setting up the case: He’s being subjected to an historically unprecedented witch hunt, remember? And there’s no institution or person he won’t blame or destroy in his bid to save himself. Just ask his former creditors. If he’s up against the wall, he will treat the Constitution the way he treated his banks. Or say the Dems manage to regain the House next year, and hold impeachment hearings. Wouldn’t that simply galvanize support for Trump as he fights back against the “deep state,” the “swamp,” the GOP, and what Hannity calls the propaganda media circus — and render 66 votes in the Senate to convict him a pipe dream? Part of me wonders if he’d quit even if he’s beaten in the next presidential election? Isn’t it always rigged when he loses? 
In some ways, I think the best analogy for Trump is O.J. Simpson. Even if we all know he’s guilty as sin, even if his own supporters see the flimflam behind the claptrap, even if the evidence is staring us in the face, he’ll never lose his core support. For 35 percent of the country, he’ll never be guiltier than the system he’s challenging. The best we can hope for is a Democratic House in 2018 and a grinding, grueling attempt to minimize the already enormous harm Trump has done in the meantime. We can pursue that outcome while hoping our cold civil war doesn’t get hot — because this is beginning to feel like the 1850s.

The reality is Trump isn't going anywhere without a critical mass of his own supporters abandoning him.  That will not happen, which is why as (as much as I hate to admit it) the talk of impeachment, criminality, and wrongdoing remains necessary but will simply not result in his removal.

What it will take for the Republic to rid itself of Trump, I cannot tell you.

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