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For Trump, Impeachment is a show

Author : Charles M. Blow

Washington is Hollywood and Trump is the leading man
12:24, 26 November 2019

Donald Trump, the U.S. President
Open source

The point is proven. The corruption has been established.

It’s rather simple: Donald Trump abused his power as president to extort a foreign country into investigating a political rival.

There is no remaining doubt that this happened.

Furthermore, the conspiracy of people involved in the execution of this plan, as well as pursuing the debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton, rather than Russia interfering to help Trump, is also coming more into focus.

It is clear that Trump has committed impeachable offenses. (Some people around him may also have committed prosecutable crimes.) The only remaining question is whether some honorable Republicans might join Democrats in voting for whichever articles of impeachment might be drawn up in the House of Representatives.

At present, it appears that few or none would do so. That is a sad indictment of our country and of the Republican Party.

Related: Trump was skeptical of Zelensky's election victory, - Volker

I have contended from the beginning that impeachment was important regardless of Republican support, regardless of the chances of conviction and removal in the Senate. Impeachment is important because our system of democracy is being tested. The Constitution is being tested. And, not moving to impeach would in a way enshrine abuse of power as a precedent.

And yet, it is still remarkable to see the way partisans are choosing to behave in this moment. It is still remarkable to see the disinformation coming from conservative media. It is still remarkable to see just how many fellow citizens have bought into deception.

This is one of the great successes (if that word can be used in this way) of the Trump presidency: He has succeeded in eroding truth and bending reality among those who support him. He has succeeded in commandeering conservatism and twisting it into something nearly unrecognizable.

And now, all of Trump’s supporters and defenders are erecting a protective hedge around him. The cult of Trumpism can’t be allowed to fall.

They are devoted to Trump’s version of the truth and his version of reality. In it, he is a tough-talking tough guy who uses colorful language and sharp elbows to change things in their interest and in their favor. In this reality, he is unfairly and incessantly maligned by those obsessed with hating him as a person and for his supposed successes. In this reality, Trump is being bullied.

Related: House Democrats move closer to impeaching Trump

Also, nothing said about him is to be believed, no matter who says it and how much proof is presented. Conversely, believing him, a compulsive liar, happens by default.

For instance, poll results published last month by Monmouth University found that 67 percent of self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning voters believe Trump’s baseless claim that Joe Biden probably did pressure Ukrainian officials to keep them from investigating his son’s business interests there, while just 16 percent said Trump made promises or put pressure on Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden, even though Trump had already admitted it and the partial transcript confirms it.

This is both confounding and frightening. How is a democracy supposed to survive when this many people deny a basic common set of facts? How does one engage in political debate with someone lost in a world of lies?

And of course, this is just as Trump wants it. He has spent his entire life bending the truth and flat-out lying. It was one thing when he did it as a private citizen, to puff up his chest and inflate his wealth. There were no real consequences for the country in the telling of those lies.

But now he has brought his “lie loudly” tactic to the White House, and he has realized that there is a section of America hungry for a show, willing to believe anything the carnival barker says and be thoroughly entertained by it.

Trump realized something that few people are willing to acknowledge: That politics is theater first. It is about appearance and performance to a disturbing degree. People want a story, a vision, a fascinating protagonist. Politics loves a star.

Related: Trump explains why Guiliani was chosen to work on Ukraine's policy

The derisive cliché, “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people,” coined by Democratic strategist Paul Begala, has lasted so long because there is a grain of truth in it. It’s simply another version of Hollywood, where great tales are packaged and sold, where great actors teach people to believe in ephemera.

It’s just that the show in Washington controls the national budget and the national arsenal and affects real people’s real lives.

But, Trump knows that the impeachment inquiry can simply be seen as part of the show, and if he can put on a bigger, better show, he can survive it. Trump is not concerned about truth, protocol, tradition or the sanctity of the Constitution.

Trump cares about Trump. Trump cares about the Trump brand and the Trump show. Trump will reduce this country to rubble before he will submit to correction. And, he’ll portray our destruction as his greatest show.

Read the original text at The New York Times.

Related: Why President Trump’s Ukraine scheme matters

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