For obvious reasons, Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry is drawing comparisons to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton – it’s the closest means we have to understanding how the whole thing will play out, even though there are some pretty big discrepancies between the nature of the hearings and how they were handled.
While Clinton’s probe was never very popular and his presidency was very popular, Trump is facing pretty much the exact opposite situation. Trump is also dealing with crimes considerably worse than what Clinton was even formally accused of – and he can’t rely on the certainty that the Senate will acquit, based on Mitch McConnell’s decision to play both sides.
Speaking of performance, Trump and what’s left of his handlers are blaming his own godawful job performance on the upcoming impeachment inquiry, arguing that it’s preventing him from doing his job competently. Of course, we all know that he can screw things up on his own and he wasn’t prepared for the Oval Office from day one. Now, even one of his cheerleaders is admitting as much.
Lindsey Graham, who was a House Republican back in 1999, defended his decision to impeach Clinton back then as a way to restore honor and integrity to the White House. Two decades later as a senator, he’s defended every blatantly illegal and immoral thing the current occupant of the Oval Office is doing – decrying impeachment as a witch hunt. He hasn’t yet turned against Trump in full, even though he’s been publicly disagreeing with him a lot more – particularly when it comes to how Trump is handling the scandals against him.
“President Clinton defended himself but he never stopped being president,” Graham said. Despite impeachment proceedings, Clinton managed to successfully negotiate a peace deal between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Trump, by comparison, can’t even stand up to Turkey. “And I think one of the reasons that he survived,” Graham continued, “is that the public may not have liked what the president had done, but believed that he was still able to do his job, and as he governed during impeachment I think that was the single best thing he did, quite frankly, to avoid a bad outcome.”
When he says this, Graham is speaking for his fellow Republican senators who are unpopular and up for re-election next year. Even if they don’t vote against Donald Trump, they are gradually waking up to the idea that the outcome could be bad – and they may have to choose between Trump and resurrecting their own careers.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making