America After Trump

❝ As of this writing, Trump seems highly likely to survive impeachment itself. Many Republican senators fear him even more than they hate him, making 67 Senate votes a high hurdle. Predicting impeachment’s effect on his electoral prospects is tricky, but even in the most favorable scenarios, Trump’s 2020 map is tough. His campaign seems to accept that he will almost certainly lose the popular vote again, and probably by an even bigger margin than in 2016. Trump’s most plausible plan for reelection is to hope that, by inflaming the racial fears of white voters, he can hold most of his 2016 states and possibly flip a couple of others. To do this, he must activate intergroup hatred on a scale not seen since George Wallace—and never considered by an incumbent president since Andrew Johnson.

It might work. The damage Trump could do in a second term would be substantial, and possibly irreversible—starting with the harm that would be done to the legitimacy of the American political system if he once again wins the Electoral College while losing the popular vote…

❝ But what if, as seems more likely at this point, he is defeated? If Trump loses, a cloud will lift from American politics. But the circumstances that produced him will not vanish—and the changes that he wrought will outlast him. Like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, when Donald Trump fades from the scene, his teeth will linger after him—but unlike the cat’s, those teeth will not be smiling. They will bite and draw blood for years to come…

Even a roundly defeated Trump will bequeath a hard legacy to his Democratic successor, however: fiscal deficits in excess of $1 trillion for years to come; no-win trade wars, not only against China but against the European Union and other friends…under current fiscal and political conditions, a costly progressive agenda stands little chance of being enacted. Medicare for All? Student-debt relief? There won’t be money for those—nor, more pertinent, the votes in the Senate.

RTFA. It’s long, detailed, only a bit wordy – but, hey, it’s David Frum telling the truth from the viewpoint of a conservative willing and able to fight for bipartisan legislation helpful to ordinary folks.

Are we being fair to Rush Limbaugh? – A conservative view


Sandra Fluke testifying before Congressional Democrats
[Republicans refused to hear her testimony]

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

As advertisers quit the Rush Limbaugh radio program — and as Republican politicians squirm uncomfortably — the broadcaster’s fans are complaining about double standards. Yes, they’ll concede, maybe Limbaugh went too far in denouncing a female law student as a “slut” and a “prostitute” and then demanding that she post a sex tape online for him to view.

But look (they continue) at all the liberal/lefty broadcasters who have also said obnoxious things! No one calls Democratic politicians to account for them. Why us?

It’s a question that will be aired often in the week ahead. Here’s the answer, in four points.

Point 1: Even by the rough standards of cable/talk radio/digital talk, Limbaugh’s verbal abuse of Sandra Fluke set a new kind of low. I can’t recall anything as brutal, ugly and deliberate ever being said by such a prominent person and so emphatically repeated. This was not a case of a bad “word choice.” It was a brutally sexualized accusation, against a specific person, prolonged over three days.

Point 2: The cases that conservatives cite as somehow equivalent to Limbaugh’s tirade against Fluke by and large did bring consequences for their authors…

The exception to the general rule is Bill Maher, who never apologized for calling Palin by a demeaning sexual epithet. But now see point 3:

Point 3: Limbaugh’s place in American public life is in no way comparable to that of David Letterman, Bill Maher or Ed Schultz…

Among TV and radio talkers and entertainers, there is none who commands anything like the deference that Limbaugh commands from Republicans: not Rachel Maddow, not Jon Stewart, not Michael Moore, not Keith Olbermann at his zenith. Democratic politicians may wish for favorable comment from their talkers, but they are not terrified of negative comment from them in the way that Republican politicians live in fear of a negative word from Limbaugh…

Point 4: Most fundamentally, why the impulse to counter one outrageous stunt by rummaging through the archives in search of some supposedly offsetting outrageous stunt? Why not respond to an indecent act on its own terms, and then — if there’s another indecency later — react to that too, and on its own terms?

Instead, public life is reduced to a revenge drama. Each offense is condoned by reference to some previous offense by some undefined “them” who supposedly once did something even worse, or anyway nearly as bad, at some point in the past.

And correctly so — this is how David Frum responds like a traditional American conservative to the defense of Limbaugh by Republicans ranging from party leaders to rank-and-file hacks.

Cowards all.