David Brooks Frets Impeaching Trump Will Let Trump Off, As Opposed To Not Impeaching Him
New York Times columnist David Brooks, who is the Tom Friedman of David Broders, has finally weighed in on the decision to start impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. The high-minded moral scold, who in August insisted the 2020 election "is about the moral atmosphere in which we raise our children," has retreated to a position of pure situational-ethics pragmatism: Sure, Donald Trump is guilty of trying to bully the Ukraine into helping his campaign, but impeaching him would be bad because Republicans in the Senate would never convict him, and then Trump would proclaim himself the victor.
Far better for Democrats to ignore their constitutional duty, because if Dems decide to drop impeachment, perhaps Brooks thinks Trump won't proclaim victory. David Brooks's logic is bad, and he should feel very bad indeed.
To be sure, Brooks has a lot of company on the Times's opinion page:
Darned liberal media!
Let's review the many reasons moderate Republican David Brooks thinks impeaching Trump would be terrible for Democrats. We'll give him credit for getting one minor point sort of right: Impeachment has the potential to get a lot more public attention than the Democratic candidates running to replace Trump. Brooks is probably right that "Democratic policy debates are going to be obscured" and "Congressional Democrats will become the most visible party leaders," at least during impeachment hearings. Which is a very good reason to hold the hearings this fall, and winter if necessary, and not drag the process too far into 2020.
But we had to laugh at Brooks's fretting that impeachment might result in moderate Democrats finding themselves "further marginalized" in the primary race. Why, yes, if it weren't for impeachment, any of the remaining Tim Ryans might really catch fire.
Mostly, though, Brooks, who usually loves taking quixotic stands against higher education, social media, policy proposals (instead of moral renewal), fancy elitist college-educated sandwich ingredients, and people objecting to racism (if it even exists), is concerned with the practical outcome of impeachment: Trump's guilty as hell, but there's no way 20 of today's Republicans would vote to convict Trump of anything. Therefore doing the right thing is pointless, and impeachment hearings that would demonstrate how badly Trump abused his office would actually be all to Trump's benefit. There might be an "ugly backlash" once Trump was acquitted, you see, as if every waking moment of Donald Trump's life isn't already dedicated to ugly backlash.
Trump lives for backlash and instability. May as well lay out all the evidence of his wrongdoing, so Republicans will be forced to defend it, instead of stepping aside and letting Trump boast that the Dems couldn't find anything wrong with his misrule. Put the fuckers on record.
Virtually all of Brooks's claims about the supposed horrorshow of impeachment can be answered simply by pointing out the same bad things would likely result from not impeaching Trump. "This process will increase public cynicism," says Brooks. Fine. And nobody would be the least bit cynical about a decision to let him get away with asking for foreign help in the election, plus a cover-up, plus a call to execute White House officials who revealed the malfeasance?
Oh, but impeachment could also "embed Trumpism within the GOP." Again, we have to wonder if Brooks has actually looked at his party at all in the last three years. For the sake of American democracy, the more the Republican Party is associated with Trump in the public mind, the better -- he is, after all, the apotheosis of 30 years of Republican dog whistling, paranoia, and shitty economics anyway. Best to dispose not only of the brand, but the party, too.
Brooks at least brings this bizarrely Brooksian claim to the argument: Holding the "president" accountable for his violation of constitutional norms would actually be "elitist." Yes, really: Brooks insists that if elected Democratic representatives impeach Trump, it would send the terrible message to the American People that their votes don't count, because the elitists they voted to put in Congress would be overturning an election "won" by the guy who got 3 million fewer votes in 2016. Worse, if the Senate were to try Trump in accordance with the Constitution, that too would be elitist:
Elections give millions and millions of Americans a voice in selecting the president. This process gives 100 mostly millionaire senators a voice in selecting the president.
Well heck, if David Brooks is saying he'd prefer to get rid of the millionaires in the Senate, we could get behind that. Too bad money is speech, or we might be able to do something about it.
In conclusion, David Brooks is once again wrong and stupid, the end.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.