Retraction, July 18, 2019: Events have transpired that force me to acknowledge that the faith I have placed in Nancy Pelosi was foolishly misplaced. Consider this the Democratic Party’s last chance and that, with me, they have now absolutely blown it. There is no merit or legitimacy to be found in this party which I now refer to as the neoliberal party.
It should be a no-brainer: Impeachment is dead on arrival at the Senate. There is no reason to believe that Republicans in the Senate are willing to entertain any evidence or arguments Democrats have to offer.
Which means that impeachment of Donald Trump, no matter how desirable, is grandstanding and nothing more.
Trust me, any experienced mental health professional will tell you Trump really doesn’t want televised hearings, he knows the power of people seeing for themselves. Televise and he loses control of controlling his base! @SpeakerPelosi @RepAdamSchiff @RepTedLieu @RepJerryNadler https://t.co/FlFoKYPGhs
— Becky Palmer (@palmer_becky) May 18, 2019
Becky Palmer invokes the specter of the Watergate hearings, which were indeed sensational, did indeed lead to Richard Nixon’s downfall.
That was nearly fifty years ago. There were three television networks then. If cable television was even a thing, it hadn’t yet gained wide acceptance. Cell phones did not exist, let alone smartphones. Fox News, more appropriately labeled “Faux News,” did not exist.
A more recent example is only a little more instructive: When Republicans impeached Bill Clinton, nobody changed their mind. It was a thoroughly partisan affair and people in the U.S. largely recognized it as such. (And yes, this absolutely elides all sorts of issues about the power relationship between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and meaningful consent.) Even this was around twenty years ago.
Now, with the morality of polarization, neither side trusts the other’s information, neither side trusts the other’s motivations.
Donald Trump may be an idiot, a delusional raging narcissist, and utterly unfit for office, but he has managed to offer enough to every tendency of conservatism (yeah, I know, you thought tax cuts and deregulation were a side show) that, in this polarized political environment, Republicans will back Trump for as long as he is president. They don’t care what’s on the mainstream news; they only care about what’s on Faux News.
But an awful lot of folks think they can get the same traction against Donald Trump that they did against Richard Nixon. That relies on a 1970s media landscape. It is simply pathetic that people think what worked then will work now when commentators on Faux News often gleefully deceive when they aren’t outright lying.
I called Trump delusional, among other things, but he isn’t the only one.
- David Benfell, “A retraction: I now support impeachment,” July 18, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/18/a-retraction-i-now-support-impeachment/↩
- David Benfell, “The morality of polarization,” Not Housebroken, September 21, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/21/the-morality-of-polarization/↩