Katy Burns: Let’s get rid of Trump the old-fashioned way

Monitor columnist
Published: 5/5/2019 12:25:17 AM

Donald Trump is profoundly disliked in his own country. Since his inauguration in January of 2017, his popularity has basically hovered around 38 percent. Only rarely – and then fleetingly – has it visited the 50 percent neighborhood.

A poll just last January was pretty bleak for the president:

Women voters of all sizes, shapes and colors detest him.

Minority voters – black, brown, Asian – can’t stand him.

Young people mostly laugh at him when they, too, are not hating him.

A heck of a lot of old voters – my cohort – really don’t trust him, although some will still vote for him as the best of a bad lot. We old people can be pretty fatalistic, and some of us got used to the Donald Trump of Apprentice. Although I don’t think many thought that having an apprentice president was a great idea.

For the most part all he had left in his camp were middle-aged white men.

Then a poll a week or so ago said he had lost the majority of them, too.

And now the slavishly loyal Republican members of Congress are beginning to develop spines. Just last week they let their leader know that they were not impressed with his two (completely unqualified) picks for the Federal Reserve Board, and at even this hint of rebellion the president backed down.

Maybe the erstwhile subservient representatives are starting to learn that – as is common with most bullies – Trump himself caves in when confronted with bullied people fighting back.

Meanwhile, Trump’s luster becomes ever more tarnished. His cavalcade of misdeeds – his egregious conflicts of interest, his blatant profiteering from his presidency (one small example is the way his D.C. hotel, just blocks from the White House, is raking in cash as one foreign country after another rents the premises) and his family’s active pursuit of business opportunities in countries eager to curry favor with the most powerful man in the world – is seemingly endless.

For the first two years of his presidency, this orgy of self-dealing went unchecked and unquestioned by an acquiescent, GOP-led Congress as long as it got its tax cuts, conservative judges and sweeping business and environmental deregulation.

But last November’s elections brought a new game to town, with Democratic control of the House of Representatives, the power of investigation and its tool, the subpoena.

And what entirely too many of the newly empowered Dems want to do is – ta da! – impeach the president!

People, what is wrong with you? Impeachment is a terrible idea. It’s a draconian measure that is rarely tried, and it won’t work. Yet, ever since Richard Nixon left office in disgrace, members of Congress are fixated on the “magic” of impeachment. Every president since him has been talked about as a fit subject for impeachment by at least some aggrieved lawmakers.

But – and this is important – Nixon wasn’t impeached. Yes, he was a crook. He massively misused the tools of the presidency in furtherance of his corrupt intentions. And – after a lengthy and exhaustive investigation, culminating in the evidentiary equivalent of a smoking gun in each hand – he might well have been impeached, convicted and removed from office.

He wisely quit before the sheriff got to the door.

There have been only two presidents who were in fact impeached. One was Andrew Johnson in 1868. The second was Bill Clinton in 1998. Neither resulted in removal from office.

And in Clinton’s case, his popularity only increased – some of his highest approval ratings were in the immediate aftermath of his unsuccessful impeachment. The man – and his presidency – were reinvigorated.

The fact is that the American people generally don’t like the idea of impeachment. It seems somehow unfair, a shortcut to removal from office that should be used only in the most egregious cases.

Voters might not like Trump. But they dislike impeachment more. And the minute the word “impeachment” is in serious play, Trump’s approval ratings will increase, as did Clinton’s. And the chances of his re-election increase.

Nancy Pelosi is right. Don’t impeach. Investigate. Donald Trump’s whole life has been lived on the shady side of the street. There is a wealth of seamy material just waiting to be exposed.

And then get rid of him the old-fashioned American way: Vote him out in November 2020.

(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

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