In the closing days of August, the Washington Post ran a story with a rather long and convoluted heading that began with “Trump Looks To 2020.” It was easily dismissed in the context of modern political news, appearing to be just another write-up about the president’s seemingly unceasing focus on his reelection in three years. Almost hidden within the article, however, was a suggestion that Trump’s own advisers are beginning to caution him about the possibility of impeachment in the not-so-distant future.
You might feel like stopping if you’ve heard this before. “Impeachment” has become something of a buzzword, not only among the most liberal news pundits, but in mainstream news and day-to-day political conversation. The idea made for a popular topic in prediction markets even at the very outset of the Trump presidency, and people are still betting on it now. And seldom does a week go by that some member of the media or even Congress doesn’t suggest that it’s within the realm of possibility.
At Slate, there is even a running “Impeach-o-Meter,” obviously a feature built in jest, and yet one that would have seemed absurd and uncalled for in any other presidency. To its credit Slate, which is generally a respectable and reliable site, describes its own Impeach-o-Meter as “a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimation,” so it’s not as if the site is taking it seriously. Still, the fact that such a gimmick exists is further indication of just how frequently this topic is being discussed.
Incidentally, one of the most recent iterations of the Impeach-o-Meter ramped things up (62 percent chance!) as a result of a Fox News poll that turned in disastrous results for the president. Only 35 percent of respondents found Trump to be a “strong leader,” and only 32 percent thought of him as a “problem solver.” Even worse, only 31 percent thought of him as “knowledgeable,” 30 percent “honest,” and a shockingly low 25 percent “presidential.” Mind you, these numbers were gathered by Fox News, which generally has a strong conservative slant.
But circling back, what makes the Washington Post story interesting is not that it relies on these numbers. The idea is not, as one might assume, that Trump’s performance within his own party has deteriorated to the point when even this Congress might consider articles of impeachment. Rather, the idea is that Trump’s recent tendency to belittle Republicans in Congress could in fact depress Republican turnout in the 2018 midterms, increasing the likelihood of a Democratic takeover.
Statistically speaking, such a takeover is already considered likely. The party that wins the White House often struggles in the following midterms, and the Democrats are eyeing a number of vulnerable seats. And should the Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, they will in fact be able to introduce articles of impeachment where a Republican Congress hesitated to do so. They will also, as the article pointed out, have the power to subpoena Trump’s personal tax returns, which some feel could lead to serious problems for the president.
So this is not another article blindly suggesting impeachment or suggesting unrealistic consequences for outlandish actions from the White House. It is not reactionary, nor partisan. But the Washington Post article made the interesting point that the closer we come to 2018, the more serious this 2017 buzzword becomes.
Leak of Nations | Trump Administration