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Making the Case

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 8: This 06 January photograph taken at the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC shows an official ticket to watch the impeachment trial of US President Bill Clinton. Out of a total of 596 t... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 8: This 06 January photograph taken at the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC shows an official ticket to watch the impeachment trial of US President Bill Clinton. Out of a total of 596 tickets only 50 are available to the public. The tickets expire daily and must be secured each day. (Photo credit should read WILLIAM PHILPOTT/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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May 22, 2019 9:21 a.m.

TPM Reader PM makes their case against my reasoning on impeachment …

At every further step in this discussion, I find myself sharpening my disagreement with your conclusions (thank for your applications of the socratic method :).

Keeping it short: The difference in moving forward with impeachment in the present circumstances is the difference between gathering around a single purpose and principle that can be formulated in fundamentally patriotic terms, and being mired in an unruly mess of legalistic language that will draw on for months without ever (or only very rarely) exiting the world of fake lawyers’ panels on CNN.

To the busy, distracted or low-information voters right now, the world looks like the Democrats repeat the President is “unfit” (not quite the sharp formulation for impeachment, btw), and a series of legal fights of varying and opaque relevance. Interviewing Mueller is a high-profile initiative, but for God’s sake has he not written 400+ pages on it? (I know you have agreed on this.)

The look is weakness, and precisely in the way Democrats are usually portrayed as damagingly weak to non-ideological voters: they all hate X but they don’t have the courage to do anything about it, because their poll-tested posturing scares them. That’s just about the definition of what “politics” is for most people.

Another thing on the Senate (Republicans): It’s vanishingly unlike this Senate would actually remove the President, but I wouldn’t completely discount probabilities here: let’s put some of those Senators before the evidence (you have doggedly reported that every deeper look into the Mueller investigation’s scope has actually shown even worse stuff than was realized initially: Flynn’s phone call transcripts, Don Jr., witness tampering all over the place…). Let them vote out in the open. The calculus on the Republican side might be obvious before the 2020 primaries, but not so much otherwise and only a third of the Senate faces those: to have a single shot to kill the king is a powerful thing, and it’s qualitatively quite different from engaging in confrontational tweeting with a standing President in your party. People like Burr, not up till 2024, might appreciate the opportunity to lance the boil and go back to their replicable kind of corruption.

The issue of clarity, coherence and perceptions of weakness is real. I think it’s the best counter to my argument. I’ll address it in a future post.

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