Two dysfunctional systems

Since the start of the year, much of the world’s attention was focused on two trials on opposite sides of the world. In one, a brave truth-teller was persecuted by a vengeful administration after stirring up his patriotic followers in protest against tyranny. In the other, Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate.

Why public opinion isn’t moving on impeachment

CNN: “Most voters are locked into their impeachment positions. About 85% of voters in our October and November polls said they felt strongly that Trump should or shouldn’t be impeached and removed. Only about 15% of voters didn’t have a strong feeling about impeachment or had no opinion at all.

“It’s this 15% that you might think would be swayed by news coverage of the impeachment proceedings. There’s just one problem with this line of thought: They mostly aren’t paying attention. …

“But there’s another element at play here: Voters feel impeachment is not all that important in the grand scheme of things.”

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has had little impact on public opinion. In late November, just like in October, 50% of Americans wanted to impeach and remove Trump from office in CNN/SSRS polling.

Due process and impeachment

“The basic sentiment [among Republicans] is that the president is being railroaded. But the reality is that when it comes to impeachment, there aren’t any protections for the president laid out in the Constitution. In fact, experts told me that pretty much any rights Democrats give Trump are above and beyond what they’re required to do. Trump hasn’t been charged with a crime and impeachment isn’t a legal proceeding, so he doesn’t have any of the rights you hear about on “Law and Order,” including due process. In the world of impeachment, “fairness” means whatever the majority party in the House of Representatives thinks it should mean. …

“Trump might feel that the impeachment process is unfair, but if it is, it’s because the Constitution made it that way.”

Stage managing impeachment

“But compared with Donald Trump, Nixon was a piker. In fact, a strong case can be made that the secret mission of the Trump presidency has been to restore Nixon’s reputation. …

“Awash in advice from constitutional scholars, House Democrats desperately need to hear from top theatrical directors. Because the only way that Trump’s impeachment will be more than a Democrats-only quest is if the dramatic arc becomes as compelling as Watergate. And that means that the target audience now should be wavering Republican voters appalled by Trump’s conduct and Republican legislators who are privately ashamed of their timidity.

“The Democrats should not rush impeachment with artificial deadlines. Instead, the hope is that a few troubled Trump insiders will resign in protest in order to testify honestly before the House. The moral decision that John Dean made in 1973 is just as applicable in 2019.”

At the height of the Watergate scandal Nixon gave the language a new verb but his obstructionist tactics ultimately failed