Here in the hysteria capital of the constellation what a time it’s supposedly been for the Democrats.
The funeral of John McCain, a Republican giant, was turned into an anti-Trump chorus. The eulogies sounded like they were concocted in the Democratic Party war room.
Bob Woodward’s well-documented book Fear arrived. It depicted the White House as a madhouse, sending Mr. Trump into his customary paroxysms.
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Barack Obama saw it fit to hit the hustings. Previous presidents don’t normally do that, but Mr. Obama sees the incumbent as such a clear danger he couldn’t resist the temptation. His speech was another one of his identity-politics snoozers. But the contrast with the incumbent, class versus crass, jumped off the screen.
To the Democrats’ delight, the book by Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aide to Mr, Trump with a reputation of being a tad unglued, was topping the charts. Among the unhinged charges in Unhinged is that the President drinks so much Coke that it is eating away at his brain, precipitating noteworthy mental decline.
Then came The New York Times’ anonymous op-ed article charting administration chaos and internal opposition to the President. Though this was mainly old news, it got tremendous traction because it touched off a guessing storm as to the identity of the writer.
All in all, pure glee for the Democrats you might say. Only it wasn’t. In the first place, the pile-on probably didn’t scare up much support. It was mainly a case of preaching to the converted. Mr. Trump unstable? How many times do they have to say it? Has a week gone by since his presidency began that he has not been accused of being unfit for the job?
The focus on how Mr. Trump operates, his obliterating of all behavioural norms, is overshadowing the more important issue of what he does.
Beneath the hullabaloo of the past few weeks was a development of more consequence – the triumph he and his Republicans scored in getting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through confirmation hearings. Presidential neuroses had nothing to do with it. With the Kavanaugh confirmation now almost certain, the court will have a rightward tilt if not thrust for possibly a generation or more to come. Much of Mr. Trump’s work can be undone by succeeding presidents. But his appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Mr. Kavanaugh will leave a lasting stamp.
For progressives, it’s a disaster. Mr. Kavanaugh puts women’s reproductive rights at risk. He’s a gift to the corporate class and small-government advocates in that he is an all-out deregulationist. He’s a gift to Mr. Trump in that he has a remarkably permissive view of presidential power.
His confirmation process was largely a ram job, one in which his record as a Republican Party operative was hidden through partisan chicanery. At the hearings, Mr. Kavanaugh dodged and weaved, issuing statements that contradicted previous ones.
While the hearings rolled on, the fixation with Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for the job reached the point where there was talk by Senator Elizabeth Warren and others of invoking the 25th Amendment which allows a president to be removed from office by reason of incapacitation.
Officials who work around Mr. Trump have contemplated such a move as well. We didn’t need anonymous journalism to tell us that there’s been a strong internal push against him. Some have gone on the record, a recent example being Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, who spoke out against Mr. Trump’s pressure to have coarse political considerations influence Justice Department decision-making. “While I am Attorney-General,” announced Mr. Sessions, probity not normally considered one of his strong suits, “the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”
Any notion that the 25th Amendment will be used against Mr. Trump is a pipe dream. Republicans point out that Ronald Reagan looked to be suffering from Alzheimer’s late in his presidency and there was no talk of the 25th. President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke and remained president.
There can be no underestimating the seriousness of Mr. Trump’s outrages, his threats to the Constitution, his authoritarian proclivities. But many Americans see more than compensation in the rollicking economy, the America First policies, the judicial appointments, his thrashing of elite Washington norms.
The Democrats appear to feel that the “he’s crazy” cry can carry the day. The question is whether they are crazy to think so.