David Brooks Thought *Very Carefully* Before Deciding Impeachment A Waste Of Time
New York Times columnist David Brooks thinks we need to just impeach Trump already and "move on." The president's gross corruption and lawlessness are apparently just a "distraction" from more important things, like ending the "immoral" practice of tipping underpaid wait staff.
Brooks admits that Trump is probably guilty, but he believes impeachment is ultimately a wasted effort because the necessary number of Republican senators will never vote to remove Trump. He's still too popular with Republican voters, who are the worst despite what Ellen DeGeneres tells you. He's resigned to what he considers an incontrovertible truth rather than even mildly concerned that Republicans defiantly prioritize their own political power over the nation's moral integrity. This is somehow Democrats' fault.
"In the first place, Democrats have not won widespread public support. Nancy Pelosi always said impeachment works only if there's a bipartisan groundswell, and so far there is not."
Democrats will never convince Americans their president shouldn't be a crook. Brooks knows this because he's visited "real America" in his space ship.
"I've been traveling pretty constantly since this impeachment thing got going."
Money well spent, New York Times! You fired your copy editors but can afford to send Lord Kitchener on his imperial adventures through the heartland.
"I've been to a bunch of blue states and a bunch of red states (including Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah)."
You've been everywhere, man.
"In coastal blue states, impeachment comes up in conversation all the time. In red states, it never comes up; ask people in red states if they've been talking about it with their friends, they shrug and reply no, not really."
Brooks is obviously only speaking to white people. A lot of black people live in red states, especially North Carolina (21 percent) and Tennessee (16.79 percent). More than 80 percent of black voters want Trump repealed and replaced. It's highly unlikely that Brooks visited a barber shop or beauty salon and got only shrugs when he asked about impeachment. Brooks probably just stopped at the OK Corral Shooting Range where the targets are all shaped like Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now, if those guys aren't actually talking about impeachment or threatening to start another Civil War if Trump's removed, then there's little risk of electoral disaster for Democrats if they uphold the rule of law. But that's not the point, I guess. Brooks insists that no one important cares about impeachment.
"Prof. Paul Sracic of Youngstown State University in Ohio told Ken Stern from Vanity Fair that when he asked his class of 80 students if they'd heard any conversation about impeachment, only two said they had. When he asked if impeachment interested them, all 80 said it did not."
Brooks observes that most Americans -- or at least the several dozen he spoke to while charging lunches to his expense account -- consider impeachment "a dull, background noise." It's just not a priority for them if the president extorts foreign leaders for his own political gain. That's some exceptionalism for you, baby! I'm not Dean Baquet. I don't rock a jaunty scarf. But maybe, just maybe, it's the press's job to inform the public about our current constitutional crisis instead of just informing the public that they're stupid.
"Many Americans don't care about impeachment because they take it as a given that this is the kind of corruption that politicians of all stripes have been doing all along."
But it isn't! Trump is off-the-charts corrupt. Barack Obama never withheld foreign aid like a gangster so he could put the screws to Mitt Romney. Brooks is the economy-brand conservative thinker who insists that liberals hate America because we remember slavery. Yet his cynical diatribe stinks of contempt for the "average" Americans he flew business class to meet.
"[I]t's harder to do impeachment when politics is seen as an existential war for the future of the country. Many Republicans know Trump is guilty, but they can't afford to hand power to Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders."
Neither Pelosi nor Warren nor Sanders would become president if Trump's removed from office. But even if Trump takes Mike Pence down with him, maybe Republicans will have to make do without another tax cut for a while because they willingly helped elect a racist criminal. Actions have consequences. They didn't make that clearer in the Constitution because they thought the white men reading it were all grownups.
Progressives, let me ask you a question: If Trump-style Republicans were trying to impeach a President Biden, Warren or Sanders, and there was evidence of guilt, would you vote to convict? Answer honestly.
Wow, if this were an essay question on a Youngstown State midterm, I could just sign something close to my name. But let me give Prof. Brooks the two seconds of thought his hypothetical deserves. Yes, I'd vote to convict -- I assume I'm a senator in this reality -- if President Warren (not gonna bother with the other possibilities) was guilty of an actual impeachable offense, not a made-up crime like consensual sex or unconventional email storage. "Trump-style Republicans" are also probably all partisan hacks or outright crooks. This isn't even an apples to oranges comparison. It's not even the same fruit basket.
Brooks advises Democrats to hurry up and impeach Trump before Thanksgiving. I guess he doesn't want it to interfere with Black Friday sales. The Senate can then "quickly dispose of the matter" like a whacked mobster's corpse. Brooks complains about "elite negligence in the face of national decline," but suggests that Congress simply go through the motions with a show trial rather than pursue actual justice. This is the insight the Times pays Brooks to provide.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."