A Depressing Analysis

I frequently cite Talking Points Memo. I have found it to be an excellent source of information about what’s going on in Washington–clearly progressive, but scrupulously accurate in its reporting and very thoughtful in its analysis.

I have a lot of respect for the site and for Josh Marshall, the journalist who established it. That’s why I found the following discussion both persuasive and depressing. It was an explanation of the dilemma facing GOP Senators, who–Josh explains– cannot simply rid themselves of Trump. Some of his observations..

There is simply no scenario in which the GOP can easily quit the President or do so without driving a major, divisive and lasting wedge through the center of the party…

Trump’s rule has been so durable because despite his unpopularity he maintains the intense support of a large minority of the electorate. For a mix of demographic and geographical reasons it is a minority that generally over-performs in electoral terms…

But probably 30% and certainly more than 20% are deeply attached to Trump, not only for his few relative points of ideological heterodoxy (trade restrictions, isolationism, etc.) but much more for his embodiment of an authoritarian and illiberal worldview both at home and abroad. These voters will have a very hard time forgiving any Republican leaders who turn on Trump and try to drive him from office. He has simply remade the party so thoroughly around an emotive ecosystem of dominance, obedience and betrayal.

Trump has built his political movement and persona around the politics of grievance and resentment. These are the taproots of the version of American conservatism we now call Trumpism. But Trump embodied and thus sealed and deepened those tendencies in a transformative way. Any partisan would resent politicians who turned on a leader to whom they felt a profound loyalty. But none like pro-Trump diehards.

Josh is convinced that a Senate Republican defection remains unlikely– that there is no substantial number of Republicans who will vote to remove Trump from office. But–as he points out–if facts continue to emerge confirming what we already know about the President’s perfidy, “there’s really no scenario in which most Republican senators won’t face a damaging outcome whichever side of the impeachment question they come down on.”

Don’t expect major defections. But that’s not really the question. The real issue is that Republicans are trapped with someone they can’t cut loose.

I have just one quibble with this otherwise compelling analysis. It begins with the assumption that these Republican Senators want to be re-elected more than they want to do the right thing.

A vote to convict would secure the Senator who casts it a favorable mention in the history books–and it would be a vote for Constitutional accountability and the rule of law.

A vote to acquit will mark the Senator who casts it as a moral coward–but probably an employed moral coward.

Josh has placed his bet on the choice most will make. It pains me to say it, but he is probably right.


  1. Yes, an impeachment trial in the Senate will most likely not bring about the ouster of Trump. But such a trial will split the Republican Party and intensify the effect the evidence has on the voting public. Senators will not have the last say. Voters will.

  2. “There is simply no scenario in which the GOP can easily quit the President or do so without driving a major, divisive and lasting wedge through the center of the party…”

    This statement translates to me to mean CRIME PAYS; the GOP has decided to remain active members of the Hole in the Wall Gang. The Republican party is no longer a political party but a band of thieves sans the humor and lovability of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They need NO scenario; they need morals, ethics, honesty and to maintain their Oath of Office to protect this country and support the Constitution of the United States of America. They CHOOSE to aid and abet “The Don” of the Mafia residing in OUR White House; to choose “truth, justice and the American way” is not defection.

    Believing they CANNOT choose to stand against Trump is BULLSHIT; they REFUSE to support democracy, Rule of Law and the Constitution of the United States of America and endangering all Americans and this country with their greed and cowardice. The House Democrats are supporting their Oaths of Office and are standing strong against the majority which is now comprised of a criminal system and fighting to protect our national security and the safety and well-being of all Americans. A “favorable mention in history books” is not their goal or the basis for their current determined actions to rid this country of vermin and regain our once trusted position among the nations of the world.

    The current Republican party needs to be split; we would then see who is worthy to remain in their elected and/or appointed office.

  3. Can we even count on retiring Senators like Lamar Alexander to stand for the Constitution, rather than the party? That will tell us all we need to know about just how craven a Senator can become.

  4. Unless Pelosi and company can build a plausible case that Trump is not keeping the country safe and in fact placing it in jeopardy.

  5. If the republican senators would grow a spine and be honest with the voters by speaking out against trump’s continuous BS and also vote in favor of impeaching trump, they just gain back a portion of their souls and finally start supporting democracy.

    Of course, they would still need to do a lot of work to switch our form of government from a plutocracy to an actual democracy.

  6. I expect these sorts of “analyses” and articles to continue through the trial in the Senate. The Republicans are in posture mode for their base. The base fails to grasp the gravity of our Constitutional peril because they are Trump and he is them. They WILL support Trump through a murder, because he is murdering our Constitution every day…and he doesn’t care.

    BUT, something will happen – and Pelosi is tuning up the orchestra – that finally hits the right notes for the Republican Senators with no courage. When the public opinion polls finally cross over into the 60%+ areas for impeachment and removal, they will have no choice. What that rubicon will show is that the voters are sick and tired of being sick and tired. It will show that they’re ready to actually vote. Remember, only 17% of the electorate voted for Trump and that was the vast majority of his base. There aren’t any more votes to be had by these damned fools. The Senators can do the math too.

    So, what will scare these soon-to-be-unemployed Senators and Congresspeople will be the polls that show how many people are expected to vote. Why do you think Republicans try to suppress the vote? Just showing these craven fools that we will vote them out for not doing the right thing will get them (mostly) away from Trump and convict his sorry ass. Hey! It will only take 20 Republican Senators to evict the orange hairball from the White House. So, 37 of them can remain safe behind their lies, stupidity and utter corruption.

  7. It is raining today with Halloween approaching so the little devil on one shoulder is driving me to the opposite direction from my usual hopefulness…apologies. If our culture has moved as far to the “anything goes”/”it is all about ME and what I want” as it may have, then asking a foreign country for help with my opponent will not be viewed a a “high crime” by the populace.

    Likewise, once the Senate has failed to convict, 80% of the T-team “fans” will celebrate by voting for him and his supporters in 2020 and the bored/turned off/dismayed will not bother to vote….

  8. JoAnn nails the real issues today. We have a president who says he can do anything he wants (fueled by Barr’s baseless theory of the unitary executive) when the Constitution says otherwise. Given such a situation, Republican senators are faced with a choice of voting for dictatorship or democracy and if by their vote they give us dictatorship, then their own election or reelection will be almost if not meaningless with a Big Brother who calls all the shots. They as well as Democratic senators will be excess baggage as our democracy disappears and we join the Smiths in the world of 1984.

    Josh may be right with his analysis today, but we are a year away from D-Day. Perhaps within the next few months of public hearings Republican senators will come to understand that they don’t really have a choice; that their political careers are over whichever way they vote to either remove from or re-install their Big Brother to the highest office in the land; that their party has been hijacked by libertarians and cultists; that even if they are elected or reelected they will have no real voice in government, having ceded such powers to Big Brother.

    Our task? Relentlessly produce evidence of Trump’s wrongdoings before House committees and endlessly fight for retention and expansion of our democracy whatever the vote in the Senate on this or any other issue.

  9. While it’s hard to argue that Trump will be held accountable for his crimes, I don’t think that is a surprise to Democrats. Their goal I have always believed is just to make the evidence public like John Mueller did because that is their obligation under their oath of office. They can’t compromise democracy and subsequently our freedom, they must work within it. Whether we the people plus Putin object to his crimes is not up to them, it’s up to us.

    One other somewhat related point. Who is “Anonymous”? The speculation is that it’s Pence who is walking an ambition soaked tightrope between being forever besmirched by his conjoined twin relationship to the criminal family or freed of it in order to continue his career serving the Koch Bros.

    I can certainly picture all of the above. Pence’s only value is wealth and he has no other means to gather it other than his stance against freedoms (except maybe as a TV evangelist). When Trump swirls the bowl he will too unless he can pull off a golden parachute by claiming that he did everything possible to neutralize Trump’s crimes by remaining close to him. I think that would be a slimy lie worthy of him.

  10. Pete – really? Pence? You obviously think a bit more of him than the Indy folks on this blog!

    More likely that it was Mattis?

  11. ” I have just one quibble with this otherwise compelling analysis. It begins with the assumption that these Republican Senators want to be re-elected more than they want to do the right thing.”

    Surely, you jest.

  12. Re: Republican Senators. It’s not unusual for death to attract buzzards who circle waiting for defensiveless to set in to start harvesting the proceeds.

    The Party is approaching defensiveless now and there will be death to harvest soon.

  13. There are two components to the Reactionary Right Wing GOP of today. One is the Koch Empire and it’s fellow travelers, the 1% and Wall Street, this where the money comes from for Pacs, and Super Pacs. This component is where the legislation for de-regulation and privatization originates.

    The second component is the GOP voting base, with God, Guns and an admiration for the strong Male Authoritarians as their motivational traits.

    The paymasters of the Reactionary GOP could care less about God and Guns. However, their selected puppets will carry out de-regulation and privatization. The selected puppets do care at least superficially about God and Guns since it is the GOP base that has to turn out to vote. Pastor Pence is a good example of this of de-regulation, privatization, God and Guns politician.

    So, I see no hope for the Reactionary GOP in the Senate to vote to impeach President Agent Orange. President Agent Orange is the dominate life form in the GOP. President Agent Orange has more raw political power in the GOP since President Raygun.

  14. pray for a brain aneurysm…but ya need one to have one..the report is accurate,and from prior reading in several other publications,its true. trump die hards are never going to let go. up here in NoDak we have the shades of gordon kahl,and his deciples. this same group help formed the tea party. ive lived and spoken with many up here,as one close friend was actully a member,and a family involved in the shooting of that u.s. marshall. they all, only shout about less goverment,and taxes. but never really became involved in any goverment of the people, just mere ignorance. the following today may wear a suit,and get elected, but they are still the same idiots who would sell their mom off to keep from-paying taxes,and run the land as they see fit. they hate bankers too, which seems wierd considering they now support it in proxy,following trumps base in dc..imagine that…though i point that out in conversation with them,, its of no regard,im met with its bettter than a ]#{%{^}€~€~ liberal…heres the very people and enities who screw them out of their land and loans,and they now blindly support them..
    p.s. if anyone here,has a piece on why, trump maybe able to thwart leaving office if hes voted out, id like to find them.. ive read a few law prof,write in tandem with others in this matter. please drop me a line on your daily bloggin… thanks, best wishes ,

  15. I don’t know what the Republicans will do or what the future of the party may be. LBJ cut the dixiecrats loose, even though it hurt the party. He also dropped out of the 1968 race rather than fight over Vietnam (it is unclear what would have happened if he had stayed in).

    Who knows if there are any Republicans who have that kind of leadership ability. I see two courses – either there are a few brave Republicans who buck Trump and maybe pick up support from former Republicans to re-form the party, or the former Republicans will choose a new name and create a new “second” party to replace those that went down with Trump. This is similar to the displacement of the Whigs by the Republicans, and also of the displacement of the Liberal Party with Labour in the UK. In any event, today’s Republican Party is in a sad place.

  16. I don’t think this is a realistic way to look at the situation. A republican achieves a high office is likely to have a large group of social associates who form an important part of the identity. And then there are family connections — you family members of politicians have political jobs and also ones associated with power: lobbyists, consultants, etc. Bruce Bartlett worked in the Reagan administration, and became an apostate in the GWBush administration. He has written expensively about how he has been cut off from his long-standing social network. Turncoats won’t be totally welcomed by the Democrats, where the energy now is on the left side. This doesn’t even note the many available think tank and commentary sinecures awaiting a loyal GOPolitican. But that’s in DC-world, in the rest of the country, an effective Democratic presentation and case (and an intelligent campaign in 2020) can cancel this out.

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