Donald Trump has secured a place in history as the only reality TV game show host to be impeached twice. He holds fully 50% of all impeachments for United States Presidents. And while the outcome of this second attempt by Democrats in Congress to hold Trump accountable for betraying his oath of office and his country was never in much doubt, his legacy will forever reflect his treasonous acts.
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The Senate is an august body that is often referred to as “deliberative.” That is less true in these modern times as hyper-partisanship has infected a cowardly confederacy of Republicans who ignored the fact-based evidence in order to express their blind devotion to a dishonest and disgraced demagogue whose lust for power very nearly brought down the American experiment in democracy.
However, the much larger constituency of the populace at large was not as easily misled as their senatorial so-called representatives. The latest polling of citizens on the question of Trump’s guilt diverges sharply from the survey of Senators voting in Trump’s impeachment hearing:
“Seventy-one percent of American adults, including nearly half of all Republicans, believe former President Donald Trump was at least partially responsible for starting the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, according to an Ipsos poll conducted for Reuters.”
So nearly three-quarters of the American people believe Trump is guilty. And while all fifty Democratic senators agree with the nation’s citizenry, only seven Republicans did. Even so, that still makes this the most bipartisan vote to convict an impeached president in history.
For Trump and his apologists to regard having lost a majority of 57% of the Senate is a bizarre twist on the concept of victory. Even GOP leader Mitch McConnell ultimately conceded Trump’s guilt. After the vote he described Trump’s behavior as a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” about which he said “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” Which makes his vote to acquit an exercise in flaming hypocrisy and cowardice.
It isn’t very often that poll respondents ever approach 71% agreement on any political issue. So it’s significant that a majority that lopsided has occurred with an issue as controversial as impeachment. And this unity (which many in politics and the press have been clamoring for) occurred despite the best efforts of Fox News to distort reality and thrust their biased propaganda down the throats of their eagerly deceived audience.
What this tells us is that Fox News doesn’t have the broad-based influence to which they like to pretend. In fact, the ratings for the impeachment hearings prove how weak Fox’s grip on the nation’s news consumers really is. For instance, CNN reports that “Fox fell below 1 million viewers during the afternoon coverage period. For comparison’s sake MSNBC averaged 3 million and CNN averaged 2.9 million viewers.” Fox News has been coming in third regularly since the election in November of last year.
Some pundits have been asserting that Trump’s hide was saved by the existence of an ultra-rightist network that was parroting his lies and propaganda. But the ratings show that that isn’t the case. Trump’s support among his cult followers was baked in before the Senate hearings began. The efforts by Fox to shape the debate were seen by only a tiny faction of already convinced devotees. And during much of the time leading up to the impeachment, the only news for Trump was bad news. His lawyers were embarrassing themselves and/or quitting. And Fox News shills were being caught in flagrant lies and/or getting fired.
In the end, Trump’s defense was a humiliating mish-mash of the sort of malarkey that was dispensed by Trump-fluffers on Fox and other wingnut media, and that used to appear in Trump’s now-canceled Twitter feed. And the ridiculousness of the Trump defenders wasn’t lost by credible and respected observers who commented on their ineptitude, as well as Trump’s grim future:
When Republicans regret their votes to acquit Trump down the road — and they will — they will not be able to say it was because the House Impeachment Managers failed them in any way. These closing arguments are clear, brilliant and compelling.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 13, 2021
If the office of the US Attorney for the District of Columbia is not already investigating Donald Trump’s role and culpability in the Jan. 6 insurrection, it should open a probe today. This minute.
— Eugene Robinson (@Eugene_Robinson) February 13, 2021
My god, the contrast between the House Managers and even the 1st minute of the Trump lawyer is so striking, it's a wonder there isn't a matter-antimatter explosion in the building.
What a performance by the House Managers. They rose to the gravity of the moment.
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) February 13, 2021
If you’re saddened by the probability Republicans will acquit and once again let Trump off the hook, remember: Criminal charges in multiple venues are coming.
— Steven Beschloss (@StevenBeschloss) February 13, 2021
Michael van der Veen, Trump’s lawyer, is acting out a bad caricature of legal and constitutional argument. It’s downright embarrassing. Law doesn’t seem to be his first language. Or his second. Or third. . .
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 13, 2021
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How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.