July 23, 2024

Trump 40

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The Trump 40
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – Republicans make up approximately 25 percent of the electorate, but President Donald Trump regularly polls in the 40-plus approval rating percentages, which means there are Independents and Democrats among his red-hat brigade of loyalists. This begs the question: What will it take to shake their confidence?  There have been so many points where the Trump train should have derailed: His pre-election demeaning remarks about women on the Access Hollywood tape, his insults about a judge with an ethnic surname, his insistence that late Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., wasn’t a war hero because he had been captured, his mockery of a physically challenged reporter, his Putin connection, his finances, his inexplicable abandonment of the Kurds in Syria, and, of course his quid pro quo with Ukraine. And the list goes on.
          So perhaps we should be asking a different question: What if Trump’s hardcore base sticks with him no matter what? Trump’s lawyer argued in court that even if the president were to shoot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue, as Trump bragged he could do in 2016 and never lose a single vote, that a sitting president cannot be investigated or prosecuted as long as he is in office.
          This has created a conundrum. The red hats won’t budge, and neither will the Constitution because the president has clearly committed impeachable offenses, leaving the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives no constitutional choice but to commence impeachment proceedings. To do otherwise would be to acknowledge an undesirable reality: impeachable offenses are whatever Congress says they are.
          If holding U.S. military assistance hostage to a foreign country’s commitment to investigate a political opponent and U.S. citizen and his family for personal political gain isn’t an impeachable offense, what is?
          Think of the precedent Congress would set by failing to use its constitutional power to restrain a president in the three areas spelled out by the Democrats as ABC: A for the abuse of power, B for the betrayal of the public trust, and C for corrupt behavior in pursuit of political and personal gain.
          The evidence is mounting, and yet not a single Republican joined in the House vote to authorize the impeachment process to continue. Even two Democrats in conservative-leaning districts, one in New Jersey, the other in Minnesota, voted against the House resolution.
          The facts show how Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, conditioned a White House meeting and military assistance for Ukraine on the country’s commitment to deliver dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and to investigate a conspiracy theory that the hacked DNC server (Democratic National Committee) is in Ukraine.
          It sounds crazy, and it is, but Trump’s 40 percenters remain unmoved. And as they move so move the Republican primary elections. And as they move so moves the Republican-controlled Senate.
          This is further fueled by a big difference between now and Watergate, when President Nixon resigned rather than face certain conviction in the Senate. A fragmented media universe which on the Right backs Trump and dispels information in ways that are neither truthful nor honorable.
          Fox News hosts attacked the character of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, whose job at the NSC included listening to Trump’s phone calls with the Ukrainian president. They suggested he gave false testimony because he has dual loyalties, having fled Ukraine at age three with his family.
          Zindman still has shrapnel in his body from an IED that exploded in Iraq. He was awarded a purple heart. His three American-born children are all in the military.
          Maybe nothing can move the Trumpsters, but the Democrats owe it to our democracy to tell the story as best they can. Former National Security advisor John Bolton appears ready to comply with a subpoena to testify. Patriots like Zindman and acting ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, a graduate of West Point, can corroborate the information in the whistleblower’s complaint about the president’s abuse of power.
          The Trump 40 take their marching orders from Trump tweets and Fox News, and this will continue even if and when Trump does shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2019 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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