“He wasn’t found guilty as charged,” you say. “By a large majority Republican Senators voted to exonerate him,” you say. “After his second impeachment trial he got another pass,” you say. All true, of course. Technically, legally.
But politically is a different story. Politically the man’s finished, over, done for, passe, yesterday’s news, history, out of here. Yes, I predict that Donald J. Trump’s life in American politics is over. Forever.
I recognize of course that this is not the conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom has it that he is far from down for the count. That he has plenty of money in his kitty. That he is free to play an oversized role in Republican Party politics. And that if he so decides he can even run again for president of the United States. I further recognize that to foretell the future is foolish – that I’m on a fool’s errand.
Still, there are these ten truths:
- Most Americans supported convicting Trump (albeit by a narrow margin).
- More Republicans oppose Trump – both within the Senate and without – than would have been thought possible even a month ago.
- American demographics suggest that unless the Republican party broadens its base, widens its appeal to the American body politic it is unlikely to win elections at the national level.
- Trump is facing a boatload of legal challenges he will have to address. Each of these will be a drain not only on his reputation, but on his pocketbook.
- Trump is sort of old – he is in any case not young, 74 years of age, not 54. His timeframe then is shorter than it is longer.
- Trump is becoming tiresome. His act, once arguably entertaining, is wearing thin.
- Trump’s business has suffered because his brand has suffered. Trump’s brand has become in many places, both at home and abroad, an embarrassment bad for business.
- The historical record has been set in stone. The proceedings of this most recent of Senate impeachment trials are now a permanent part of the American experiment.
- Even one month in President Joe Biden has provided the American people with a critical contrast. Especially as it pertains to the pandemic, the difference in competence between this administration and the last is already amply in evidence. Moreover Biden’s approval rating nationwide stands at least for now at an impressive 62%.
- Though his verdict was “not guilty,” Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell gave a speech immediately subsequent that was stunningly accusatory. Whatever the charges against McConnell – for desperately trying to thread the needle – truth is he gave the nation a great political gift. In language as lacing as anyone’s, including every member of the Democratic opposition, McConnell charged Trump with behaviors tantamount to crimes.
I think McConnell more responsible than any other single individual for dumping Trump. Here in small part is what he said.
- “January 6th was a disgrace.”
- “It happened because fellow Americans had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth.”
- “Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
- “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
- “It was obvious that only President Trump could end [the attack on the Capitol]. Former aides publicly begged him to do so. Loyal allies frantically called the administration. But the president did not act swiftly. He did not do his job. He didn’t take steps so federal law could be faithfully executed and order restored. Instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded. He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election!” (Italics mine.)
Bad leadership is exceedingly difficult to excise. All the more reason then to acknowledge and even celebrate when it happens. When good trumps evil.