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On Impeachment Fantasies

Donald Trump VictoryVia Time:  How the Professor Who Predicted Trump’s Win is Making the Case for Impeachment

Lichtman, an American University history professor who has used a set of keys to correctly predict every presidential election since 1982, gained attention last year when he predicted that Trump would win the election and then be impeached.

To be cynical for a moment:  Lichtman is selling a book on this subject and Time is trying to sell advertisements. I, however, am enjoying a cup of coffee and a beautiful spring morning in one of the nerdiest ways possible, writing this blog post.

Having said all of that, let me note what should be obvious:  predicting the outcome of a regular election process and predicting a highly unusual, and very rare, legislative procedure are two incredibly different things.

There have been, for those keeping score at home, a grand total of two presidential impeachments in the entire history of the Republic, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton (Nixon resigned before they could impeach him).   The number of removals as a result of impeachment is zero.  Note that impeachment by the House is essentially an indictment, while trial is held in the Senate to determine if removal will take place (and requires the acquiescence of two-thirds of the Senate).

Lichtman’s book, which I have not read, is described as follows, including perhaps the most ludicrous possibility one could think of (bolded below):

His new book, The Case for Impeachment, outlines eight possible reasons to impeach Trump, including his business-related conflicts of interest, his team’s connections to Russia and his involvement in previous legal disputes, such as lawsuits against Trump University. In his “most edgy” argument, Lichtman says Trump could be impeached for a “crime against humanity” based on his refusal to take action on climate change.

That ain’t edgy, that’s nuts.  Such a claim requires a massive shift in public and political opinion on climate change so vast and deep that I cannot even imagine what it would look like or what would cause it.

Beyond all of that, the paragraph that drove me nuts was this one:

If a vote were to take place in the House today, all 193 Democrats and 23 Republicans would need to vote for impeachment in order for it to pass. In the Senate, 19 Republicans would have to side with all 46 Democrats and two independents in order to remove Trump from office.

This is mathematically true, but politically absurd.  The majority party is not going to allow its own president to be impeached if the vast majority of that party is opposed to said impeachment.  Further, this simplistic math ignores the roles played by the committee structure of the House to create the articles of impeachment and to schedule the floor debate.   This is of a genre of discussion about vote counts in the chamber that ignores the way the chamber operates.  It cannot be stressed enough that even if a theoretical coalition exists between all Democrats and a handful of Republicans on a given issue it does not mean that that coalition will ever have a chance to vote together.  I cannot stress enough the degree to which the House is controlled by the majority, and by majority leadership in particular.  It is also the case that most legislative work is not done in plenary session on the floor.  Most work is done well before legislation hits the floor.

And I have repeatedly noted, at least in conversation (although I feel as if I have written this here at OTB):  the only way for Trump to be impeached is for him to do something that truly upsets or offends a large chunk of Republican voters.  I am sincerely unsure what that offense might be at this point.  It is not insulting POWs, it isn’t multiple divorces, it is not talking about grabbing female genitalia, nor is it running casinos.  I am not sure it is conflict of interest nor connection to Russia (note that public opinion polling shows that GOP voters have a far better view of Putin since Trump was elected, indicating that Republican views of Russia are linked to partisan domestic preferences).

More power to Lichtman in cashing in on being the prediction professor and all that.  And it may be that his book is quite interesting, but I would caution against taking seriously that anything we know now is going to lead to impeachment of President Trump.  Is it within the realm of possibility that either conflict of interest issues or the Russian connection could blossom into a major scandal?  Sure, but the probability of it being sufficient to lead to actual impeachment seems low.  Indeed, resignation seems more likely than impeachment, and I am hardly running to Vegas to lay down money on that.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    In the opening sentence of your second-to-last paragraph, did you mean “conversation” rather than “conservation”?

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  2. @CSK: I did indeed. Thanks.

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  3. gVOR08 says:

    I regard a 25th Amendment removal as even less likely. If you strike at the king, you must kill the king. Pence won’t have the stones to try unless public opinion has gone completely south on Trump. And in that case, they’d impeach.

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  4. @gVOR08: That ain’t gonna happen.

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  5. CSK says:

    I think if public opinion went totally south on Trump, he’d be more likely to quit first. He’s too needy of applause.

    Or…his kids might persuade him to bail on the grounds that he’s damaging the family brand too badly.

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  6. rachel says:

    To be cynical for a moment: Lichtman is selling a book on this subject…

    Go ahead and be cynical; I sure am.

    Also, didn’t Lichtman predict the Detumnescing Tweeter would win by getting more votes than the other candidates? I mean, maybe he said that Lord Littlefinger would lose the popular vote but win the election due to a relic of our Founders’ compromise with slaveholders; but if he did, I missed it.

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    Republican views of Russia are linked to partisan domestic preferences

    As is everything else. I trust by now most people have seen that when Obama proposed missile strikes on Syria 38% of Dems approved v 37% now, under Trump, while 22% of Rs approved of strikes then v 86% now.

    John Quiggin has a post at Crooked Timber taking on Jonathan Haidt. His argument is that, contra Haidt, it’s not so much that people hold on to their personal beliefs as that people hold the views held by their social group,

    Once we look at things this way, it’s obvious that not all social groups are the same, Scientists have a social process for dealing with evidence, which differs from that of (to pick a group with almost zero overlap) Republicans. Obviously, scientists collectively are much better at correcting false beliefs than Republicans, even though, as individuals, both scientists and Republicans exhibit forms of motivated reasoning such as confirmation bias.

    I’ve put it that if Dems question something, they’re likely to consult an expert, Rs consult a tribal shaman.

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  8. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Okay, this guy is pushing an unrealistic fantasy. And I don’t see the Republicans going for an impeachment of one of their own – they nominated the doofus, after all, knowing him for what he is.

    But it’s also true that once tax cuts are implemented – if they’re implemented – there’s no reason to really place nice anymore. They’ve got to have noticed that the Freedom Caucus paid zero price for defying the WH over ACHA. Where were the hoards of flying monkeys on twitter that every Republican is so deathly afraid of? Nowhere. And those rallies Trump loved so much? Why did he stop? Could be that photos of half-empty seating in Nashville suddenly made them not so much fun anymore?

    A year from now, if the country’s still in existence, we’ll see who’s testing the waters for a nomination challenge. Cruz, perhaps? Would Trump run again knowing he’d be the incumbent on the defensive, or would he do a Lyndon Johnson and bail?

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  9. Gustopher says:

    There are plenty of reasons to impeach, but they won’t. But, if something destroys his tough guy image with the base, the Republicans may decide to dump him.

    That something would have to be really bad, and have bad optics, and is nothing I would want to happen.

    – A military fiasco, with lots of dead American troops, ordered from one of his estates rather than the situation room, while he is eating cake.

    – The hypothetical pee pee tape being made public, after Putin decides Trump isn’t being loyal enough and he would rather just sow chaos.

    – A series of terrorist strikes that Trump fails to stop.

    The second one would probably not be too terrible, but someone is going to broadcast it, and you know that at some point of weakness your curiosity will get the better of you and you will never be able to unsee that.

    But, impeachment would require something so terrible that the Republicans want to shed all responsibility, blame Trump, and then shed Trump, like a snake shedding its skin.

    On the other hand, overweight 70 year old men have heart attacks every day, so we might not be stuck with him for four years.

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  10. CSK says:

    Oh, dear God. According to The Times (London) Trump is demanding to be conveyed to Buckingham Palace in the Queen’s own gold-plated horse-drawn carriage during his state visit next October.

    I am truly embarrassed to be an American.

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trump-demands-gold-plated-welcome-xjnffdq32

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  11. @Gustopher:

    – A series of terrorist strikes that Trump fails to stop.

    That could boost his support, unless it could be definitively demonstrated that he, himself, made the mistakes that led to the attacks.

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  12. DrDaveT says:

    Having said all of that, let me note what should be obvious: predicting the outcome of a regular election process and predicting a highly unusual, and very rare, legislative procedure are two incredibly different things.

    While I concede that you don’t actually need this argument, given the political argument you make so well, this should actually be formulated as:

    Predicting rare events is orders of magnitude more difficult than predicting the outcome of annual events, which are easiest to predict when there are only 2 possible outcomes.

    You don’t need to know what kind of events you’re talking about; predicting earthquakes is vastly more difficult than predicting how many hurricanes there will be next year, which is more difficult than predicting whether a given hurricane will make landfall or not. That’s just a function of the math, not the science.

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  13. @DrDaveT: Exactly. I almost went into more detail, but just decided not to.

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  14. Mikey says:

    At this point I have to agree with you 100%, Dr. Taylor. The FBI could produce a four-inch binder, wrapped in screen grabs from the “pee-pee video,” busting with proof of Trump payoffs to Russia in exchange for the DNC hacks and other propaganda operations, and the GOP still wouldn’t impeach.

    On the other hand, what happens if the Dems (miraculously, I must concede) regain big majorities in Congress, and significant evidence or even proof of collusion comes out? Would you think the possibility of impeachment greater in that scenario?

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  15. @Mikey: The calculation changes if the Dems win big in the mid-terms (since part of the condition necessary for such a big win is widespread discontent with Trump).

    Even then, however, I have my doubts.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: One attack would cause people to rally around the President. A series of attacks may well show Trump as weak and impotent to stop it.

    Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.

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  17. CSK says:

    Some of you may be underestimating the extent to which Trump is loathed by certain members of his own party, even if they pretend otherwise for public consumption.

    Dump Trump, and you get Pence. Dump Trump and Pence (which really isn’t going to happen), and you get Ryan. Most Republicans would be thrilled with either outcome.

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  18. @Gustopher:

    One attack would cause people to rally around the President. A series of attacks may well show Trump as weak and impotent to stop it.

    I could see a scenario in which multiple attacks could lead to increased authoritarianism.

    Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.

    Amen to that.

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  19. @CSK:

    Dump Trump, and you get Pence. Dump Trump and Pence (which really isn’t going to happen), and you get Ryan. Most Republicans would be thrilled with either outcome.

    I have seen this theory since before Trump was inaugurated and while I get the logic, I don’t ultimately buy the premise.

    If anything, impeaching and removing a sitting president would be a major embarrassment for the party. It would, therefore, take something truly dramatic for that to unfold.

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  20. al-Ameda says:

    A couple of points.

    (1) The House majority party can impeach a president for what ever it wants to. Yes there is language about ‘high crimes, misdemeanors’ but that’s pretty damned easy to finesse. It comes down to a will to impeach, public opinion fallout is the only down side, but even that may not matter much these days.

    (2) It comes down to numbers and and I just don’t see it (impeachment). Leave out the Senate for a moment. There are plainly not enough Democrats in the House, period, and not enough ‘sell out’ Republicans to join a completely united Democratic delegation (unlikely) to make it happen.

    Although I know there are “watch out what you wish for” possibilities here, but from a schadenfreude and entertainment standpoint, A Trump impeachment would be fantastic on so many levels. His brand would be ruined, FoxNews would be on fire, and the knives would be out throughout Republican voter base world.

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  21. @al-Ameda:

    It comes down to a will to impeach

    Exactly.

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  22. Mark L says:

    @CSK: I think if public opinion went totally south on Trump, he’d be more likely to quit first. He’s too needy of applause.

    @CSK:

    I disagree. Trump is so convinced of his own “rightness” that he would rather go down fighting. He would rather implement a scorched earth policy.

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  23. PT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But which is more embarrassing – impeaching and removing a sitting president or allowing Donald Trump to continue in the role of a sitting President?

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  24. @PT: The GOP already made that choice…

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  25. CSK says:

    @Mark L:

    Possibly. But I don’t see Trump as a fighter. He’s a bully and a blusterer, but faced with near-universal opprobrium, he might be more inclined to skulk offstage. He needs to be worshiped the way he needs to breathe.

    And…his kids. If he starts doing things that hinder their ability to amass astronomical sums of money, they might gang up on him.

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  26. Mr. Bluster says:

    @gVOR08:..I’ve put it that if Dems question something, they’re likely to consult an expert, Rs consult a tribal shaman.

    I would suggest that citizens of any political bent who seek advice from an astrologer are consulting a tribal shaman.

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  27. Mr. Bluster says:

    If The President can’t be sued why are Pud’s lawyers going to all this trouble?
    Why don’t they just say: “Look, you so called Judge, he’s the President and he can’t be sued! See!”

    In Friday’s filing, the president’s lawyers contend that Trump was not ordering his supporters to rough up the protesters — or to do anything. “The Trump Defendants deny that Mr. Trump directed his statement to the crowd,” the lawyers wrote.
    But their claim was undermined by a separate Friday filing from one of the Trump supporters, Alvin Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association who was captured on video pushing the lead plaintiff, a young African-American woman named Kashiya Nwanguma.
    While Bamberger’s lawyers in their filing said their client “admits only that he touched a woman,” he “denies that he assaulted that woman.”
    But, Bamberger’s lawyers stressed that “to the extent that Bamberger acted, he did so in response to — and inspired by — Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s urging to remove the protesters.”
    They added that Bamberger “had no prior intention to act as he did” and “would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s specific urging and inspiration.”
    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/trump-inciting-violence-protest-rally-lawsuit-237249

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  28. Mr. Bluster says:

    Do they get paid by the hour?

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  29. Paul L. says:

    Progressives and Anti War left already have a reason to impeach.
    Donald Trump is a convicted War Criminal.
    He used the MOAB.

    https://twitter.com/joshfoxfilm/status/852591374998413312
    @joshfoxfilm I’ve studied the #MOAB for yrs. It’s a disgusting device, designed to inflict maximum casualties. It’s a carpet bomb. Should be illegal.

    @joshfoxfilm A one-bomb carpet bomb. A war crime. An atrocity.

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  30. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: As long as any members of the Republican party think they can get something out of Trump, including his signature on any bills they want made into law…..they ain’t gonna get rid of him.

    The only thing that will cause the Republican party to get rid of Trump is if they think he is dragging them down into oblivion. And too many Americans are knee-jerk Republicans to ever care.

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  31. gVOR08 says:

    @Mr. Bluster:

    I would suggest that citizens of any political bent who seek advice from an astrologer are consulting a tribal shaman.

    ?? Don’t think I’m getting your point. The only president/astrology example I’m aware of is Nancy Reagan.

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  32. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Exactly. Here’s what people don’t understand. The GOP will ride out the Trump wave, claim his successes, most of which will have nothing to do with him, and abhor his failures, claiming him as a “liberal New York billionaire Democrat who was not a REAL Republican.” The details may be different but the theme will be the same.

    However, there are rumblings that Trump will be primaried. I’m not putting much stock in that theory, but with the Trump=Carter parallels it can’t be ignored. Washington hates the man and the chatter is that anyone who works for him is taking their putting their career on the line. If there are indictments of others associated with his campaign, it could push is approval rating into the 30s permanently. However, that could still translate into +80% of the GOP electorate.

    tlr:dr Trump could say “Heil Hitler!” 1000 times and it wouldn’t shake GOP support.

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  33. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Again, I take your point, but I have to ask: How can any Republican count on Trump to do anything? The man believes in nothing but his own self-aggrandizement. He has no convictions and principles. He has no knowledge, because he’s incapable of absorbing it and assimilating it. He’ll tell you that Muslim-Americans are great people, and that he’d have no problem having one in the cabinet, and five minutes later he’ll tell you he wants to kick all the Muslim-Americans out of the country. He has the attention span of a gnat. He pays attention to the last person who whispered in his ear and told him he has the biggest dick in Washington. He changed his position on abortion three times in one day between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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  34. @CSK: The point is, though, that things like the Russia poll I cited and the poll about bombing Syria show the power of partisanship. He is the president and the head of the party, and that is powerful regardless of his core beliefs or lack thereof (this whole election has proved that).

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @Mr. Bluster: I thought we settled the issue of whether a President could be sued back during the Clinton White House, with the Paula Jones suit.

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  36. Mr. Bluster says:

    .Consulting tribal shamans is not exclusive to one political party.

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  37. Dave Schuler says:

    I cannot stress enough the degree to which the House is controlled by the majority, and by majority leadership in particular.

    I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to explain that to people for years. It’s not a state secret. Everybody who actually knows how the House works is aware of it.

    It has a corollary. Nothing reaches the House floor unless the majority leadership wants it to.

    There’s another aspect of this fantasy that remains unconsidered. “High crimes and misdemeanors” means exactly what the House leadership wants it to mean, no more no less. What you or I or the Democratic minority might think is a high crime or misdemeanor makes absolutely no difference. All that matters is what the House leadership thinks.

    Consequently, for Trump to be impeached would require that the House majority leadership be among those 23 Republicans needed to vote to impeach. That ain’t gonna happen and that’s why it’s a fantasy.

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  38. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Progressives and Anti War left already have a reason to impeach.
    Donald Trump is a convicted War Criminal.
    He used the MOAB.

    “convicted War Criminal”? — Unless I missed the most recent 24/7 news churn, I don’t think that Trump has been convicted of war crimes?

    But really, you need not have been convicted of any crime, nor proved to have consorted with, say, Russian financiers or had knowledge of Russian plans to hack the DNC or otherwise influence our 2016 general election. That would be nice, but it is just not necessary.

    A unified majority-party in the House can impeach a president for any reason whatsoever, the only possible impediment being the public opinion response to a simple party-line vote to impeach. Whether or not the Senate convicts, that’s another matter.

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  39. Dumb Brit says:

    @CSK: the professor does suggest Trump may well have a conviction before too long!

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  40. teve tory says:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/richard-dearlove-mi6-trump-russia-money-2008-financial-crisis-us-election-a7684341.html

    Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove says Donald Trump borrowed money from Russia during 2008 financial crisis

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  41. Kylopod says:

    Lichtman is neither the first nor last commentator to present himself as some kind of Nostradamus due to claiming he “knew” Donald Trump would win the presidential election. First, we need to get the following out of the way: he didn’t know Trump would win. Nobody knew. He guessed, and his guess turned out to be correct.

    To know of Trump’s impending victory would imply there was something inevitable about it. But there’s nothing inevitable about squeaking through in the Electoral College by less than 80,000 votes while losing the national popular vote. Very little had to change for the outcome to have been different, and not only would the nation have been spared the nightmare we’re currently going through, but Lichtman would have been exposed for the charlatan he clearly is.

    Obviously many people underestimated Trump, and there was a foolish level of groupthink settling around a lot of pundits who convinced themselves Trump couldn’t possibly win, despite the fact that the race was always competitive. But that doesn’t mean anyone who predicted a Trump victory knew what they were talking about. There are various incentives why certain people placed their bet on this particular horse–some were simply hardcore partisans, others found it in their interests to play the contrarian. But unlike a real horse race, there wasn’t much of a downside to being wrong. Commentators are rarely punished for bad predictions, but they can be rewarded for good ones, if they know how to spin the occasional lucky guess as evidence of profound insight. Professional “psychics” have used this trick for ages.

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  42. al-Ameda says:

    @Kylopod:

    Commentators are rarely punished for bad predictions, but they can be rewarded for good ones, if they know how to spin the occasional lucky guess as evidence of profound insight. Professional “psychics” have used this trick for ages.

    Up-vote this +1,000

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  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Commentators are rarely punished for bad predictions, but they can be rewarded for good ones, if they know how to spin the occasional lucky guess as evidence of profound insight.

    It’s actually worse than that. Some years ago a college class did a study. They looked at several nationally known pundits and read their past output for verifiable predictions. IIRC Krugman did best and Cal Thomas worst. What they found was an INVERSE correlation between being right and being successful. The secret to punditry is to find a profitable audience and tell them what they want to hear. People will pay more for reinforcement than for enlightenment.

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  44. @Dave Schuler:

    I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to explain that to people for years. It’s not a state secret. Everybody who actually knows how the House works is aware of it.

    It has a corollary. Nothing reaches the House floor unless the majority leadership wants it to.

    I was trying to imply the scheduling issue as well, but should have been explicit.

    What gets me about this is that professional journalists often seem not to get this basic fact about the chamber.

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  45. Mr. Bluster says:

    The secret to punditry is to find a profitable audience and tell them what they want to hear. People will pay more for reinforcement than for enlightenment.

    See Brush Lintoff

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  46. Tyrell says:

    Well, there is that Maxine that keeps hollaring “impeach” every time she gets in front of a tv camera. She should actualky be trying to do something for the people, of all shocking things, instead of this routine. A complete phony.

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  47. An Interested Party says:

    Yes, we know that Republicans love Trump as long as he proves to be useful to them, but the irony is that the longer he is around, the more he hurts the Republican brand among independents…so yes, Republicans, please keep this fool around, as, in the end, he could end up hurting you dearly…the trick is to keep this idiot around long enough without him causing too much damage…

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  48. JohnMcC says:

    I’m not waiting for a deux ex machine impeachment but as long as we’re talking about it….

    In Prof Taylor’s post here and in the WaPo review of the Lichtman book (highly recommended FWIW) there is no mention of what seems to be an important aspect of this issue — that the Paula Jones case against Bill Clinton established that crimes committed prior to inauguration can be grounds for bringing a suit against a serving President.

    Of course, suing a President is different from impeachment.

    But if Pres Trump was sued successfully for something that involved his campaign’s coordination with the Russian FSB that occurred prior to the election (that is–during the campaign season) that would open the possibility that a Republican party that wished to cleanse itself of his stain could bring impeachment charges and convict him.

    It would (OF COURSE!) be a completely self-serving and hypocritical act. But in the situation of disastrously low approval polling and horrible results in special and mid-term elections it doesn’t seem impossible. And it seems fairly likely to me that disastrously low approval (<35%) and losses in special and mid-term elections is what the R-party is bracing themselves for.

    So — yeah…. I don't think impeachment is likely. But it's not unreasonable to include it in the list of possible outcomes.

    I'd also point out that the esteemed Prof Taylor has spent a good bit of time on a lovely Saturday reading about it, thinking about it and writing about it here. All the time saying we shouldn't bother our little heads thinking about it. Hmmmm……

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08:

    It’s actually worse than that. Some years ago a college class did a study. They looked at several nationally known pundits and read their past output for verifiable predictions. IIRC Krugman did best and Cal Thomas worst. What they found was an INVERSE correlation between being right and being successful. The secret to punditry is to find a profitable audience and tell them what they want to hear. People will pay more for reinforcement than for enlightenment.

    I remember that study, although not all the particulars, and I had it specifically in mind when I wrote my last comment. It was discussed here at OTB when it came out:

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/ranking-the-pundits/

    My reading of the study wasn’t that there was necessarily an inverse correlation between a pundit’s predictions and his or her success (the study didn’t address the relative “success” of the pundits it examined), but that the majority of the pundits it examined did no better–though no worse–than a coin flip when it came to making predictions.

    I’d be curious to know how well betting markets score. Of course betting markets have been wrong plenty of times, but unlike pundits there’s a strong incentive to try to be right, and because of that I suspect they’ve got a better track record. The problem with pundits isn’t just groupthink–though that is a serious problem–it’s that they have incentives not to make accurate predictions. As you said the objective is typically to tell your audience what they want to hear, or in some cases what will get you the most attention. Either way it’s an exercise in brand-building, not a serious attempt at analysis much less prognostication.

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  50. Tony W says:

    @Kylopod: One of my favorites

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  51. Dave Schuler says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think the party leaders like the confusion. It provides cover for them in the form of plausible deniability.

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  52. Pch101 says:

    The GOP may move to impeach Trump if he becomes a political liability and it is necessary to throw him under the bus.

    The odds of that are higher than they would be for most presidents. But given Trump’s efforts to pivot to the establishment, that seems unlikely. The party leaders will hope against hope that they can work with him (read: manipulate him), failing to recognize that it is very difficult to manipulate a narcissistic sociopath who is a compulsive liar with trust issues.

    The Democrats may (and probably should) attempt to put impeachment on the table for the sake of gamesmanship, but the GOP is unlikely to support it as noted above. Regardless, Dems should bang the drum of impeachment because it rallies the troops and the Republicans deserve it.

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  53. @JohnMcC:

    Well, sure: if lawsuit revealed crimes, then the game changes. But that is no basis for a prediction. Part of the problem with that whole scenario is that we only have speculation at the moment.

    To @Pch101‘s point:

    The odds of that are higher than they would be for most presidents

    I agree with this, insofar as I think, based on who Trump is, that Trump enters 2017 with higher odds that he will be impeached than Obama did in 2009. However, I still think that the odds are minuscule-to-nonexistent based on current conditions.

    The issue is not, can we concoct scenarios in which Trump might be impeached? The issue is, is it reasonable to write a book predicting it (or is it even reasonable to argue that it could happen without some serious change in conditions)? I say no and, indeed, call it a fantasy.

    There is no doubt that should he be proved to have committed a demonstrable crime in the context of low approval numbers and the Dems win the House in 2018 that the scenario changes. Even then I wouldn’t lay money on impeachment. And I definitely wouldn’t lay money on removal. But those are not the current conditions.

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  54. @Dave Schuler: To a degree, I agree, although I think a lot of party loyalty mixed with ineptitude on Ryan’s part is simply helping create the chaos.

    On the issue of majority control, I remain amazed he brought the AHCA to the floor without knowing he had the votes.

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  55. MBunge says:

    Trump just committed an act of war without Congressional authorization. If there’s ever been an impeachable offense, that has to be it. Yet, an overwhelming majority of Democratic and liberal elites can’t be bothered to care about it. Instead, we’re focused on a bunch of “fake news” fantasies which, if they became reality, would only do more damage to our democracy.

    Mike

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  56. Laura Koerber says:

    I don’t think Trump will be impeached unless House Repubicans think they need to impeach him to improve their election chances. And he would nt be a drag on their ticket unless the base abandoned him and as has been pointed out the base loves him and they just adjust their ideas on other topics (such as sex, morality, ethics, foreign affairs, anything so as to continue loving him. How far does behave to go to lose them? Wel attacking Medicare might so it.

    So I dont think it will happen. I think that Republican voters will turn out in droves next election just as they are in Georgia right now. Republican voters dont vote on issues. They vote emotionally and not from nice emotions either. Hatemongering scare mongering and appeals to their sense of entitlement will get them to the polls.

    Sorry about the typos. i konw they are there but my eyes are bad this morning.

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  57. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Happy delayed spring solstice day…

    If a vote were to take place in the House today, all 193 Democrats and 23 Republicans would need to vote for impeachment in order for it to pass. In the Senate, 19 Republicans would have to side with all 46 Democrats and two independents in order to remove Trump from office.

    This is mathematically true…

    So… You’re telling me there’s a chance…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju2FSUCiVfQ

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  58. Dave Schuler says:

    @Pch101:

    The GOP may move to impeach Trump if he becomes a political liability and it is necessary to throw him under the bus.

    I agree with that. Or, as has been said, if you want a friend in Washington get a dog.

    Right at the moment it appears that Trump has a floor of support at just under 40%, lower than Obama’s and lower than most presidents, but still no real danger of his having the GOP turn on him.

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  59. @MBunge:

    Trump just committed an act of war without Congressional authorization. If there’s ever been an impeachable offense, that has to be it. Yet, an overwhelming majority of Democratic and liberal elites can’t be bothered to care about it.

    A couple of thoughts:

    1) You can’t possibly have watched the last several decades of US history (or, even, pretty much all of US history) and think this is true.

    2) You are correct if you want to criticize many liberals for being more hawkish than they ought to be.

    3) Having said that, it is strange (but consistent with your past comments) that you blame liberals for what the Republicans are doing,

    4) Even if every single Democratic/liberal elite was calling for impeachment, there would be no impeachment.

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  60. JKB says:

    @MBunge: If there’s ever been an impeachable offense, that has to be it.

    Really, I would have said the attacking and overthrow of a sovereign government that had entered into agreements to get rid of all their weapons of mass destruction years before, as well as creating in that now overthrown state the conditions for the return of open Arabic slave markets for sub-Saharan slaves, would the an impeachable offense if there ever was one, but Obama wasn’t impeached and Hillary was the Democratic party’s 2016 Presidential nominee.

    In any case, regardless of congressional nattering, there won’t be a removal from office until a geographically-dispersed majority of Americans decide it is needed.

    In the modern era, and possibly even with Jackson, “impeachment” has been more of a tactic in hopes of diverting executive attention and priorities than actual attempts to remove from office. Nixon has been the only potential impeachment that had any chance of removal.

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  61. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    Really, I would have said the attacking and overthrow of a sovereign government that had entered into agreements to get rid of all their weapons of mass destruction years before, as well as creating in that now overthrown state the conditions for the return of open Arabic slave markets for sub-Saharan slaves, would the an impeachable offense if there ever was one, but Obama wasn’t impeached

    …. and yet Republicans, even with majority control of the House declined to take up impeachment of President Obama. What a really swell bunch of guys and gals!

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  62. teve tory says:

    I would have said the attacking and overthrow of a sovereign government that had entered into agreements to get rid of all their weapons of mass destruction years before

    …so you are talking about Iraq.

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  63. @teve tory:

    …so you are talking about Iraq.

    This was my initial thought, which confused me knowing the author’s ideological predilections.

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  64. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Congress authorized the Iraq expedition. They did not and have not authorized Obama and Hillary’s Libya adventure.

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  65. wr says:

    @MBunge: “Yet, an overwhelming majority of Democratic and liberal elites can’t be bothered to care about it. Instead, we’re focused on a bunch of “fake news” fantasies which, if they became reality, would only do more damage to our democracy.”

    Shorter Mike, as always: “How dare you people care about the things you care about instead of doing what any rational person would do and caring about things I care about?”

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  66. @JKB: I understand. I just found the description rather interesting.

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  67. teve tory says:

    Didn’t some republicans say the 2001 AUMF justified trump’s bombing in Syria? If it’s so expansive then surely it covered what Barry Bamz did.

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  68. teve tory says:

    In 1986 Reagan bombed Libya without congressional authorization. Supposedly killed one of Ghaddafi’s daughters, though that was never confirmed.

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  69. charon says:

    @JohnMcC:

    the possibility that a Republican party that wished to cleanse itself of his stain could bring impeachment charges and convict him.

    @Pch101:

    The GOP may move to impeach Trump if he becomes a political liability and it is necessary to throw him under the bus.

    The deal here is slightly mitigating one or two disastrous elections at the cost of permanently antagonizing many highly partisan Republican voters against the perpetrators. I do not think that deal has much appeal to professional politicians.

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  70. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MBunge: Huh? “… a bunch of “fake news” fantasies which, if they became reality, would only do more damage to our democracy”?

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  71. Pch101 says:

    Bunge is the smartest guy in his shower.

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  72. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I don’t see DT being impeached (although he richly deserves it), absent the GOP suffering some electoral disaster in 2018, such as losing control of both houses of Congress. The chances of that happening are so remote as to be incalculable. Of course, I was wrong in projecting the outcome of the election last year, so who knows?

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  73. Paul L. says:

    @al-Ameda:
    “convicted War Criminal” channels the BS of Josh Fox perfectly.
    With Trump, I do not have to prove he is a “convicted War Criminal”.
    Progressives will believe anything bad about him. Fake but Accurate.

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  74. al-Alameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    “convicted War Criminal” channels the BS of Josh Fox perfectly.
    With Trump, I do not have to prove he is a “convicted War Criminal”.
    Progressives will believe anything bad about him. Fake but Accurate.

    I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Josh Fox until your post.

    That said, let’s keep it more real than the Right typically does:
    The Left’s fever swamp is a puddle compared to the Right’s Everglades.

    Also, are you saying that the Left is as deranged concerning Trump
    as the Right is about Hillary or Clinton?

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  75. Pch101 says:

    @al-Alameda:

    Paul L is adept at being a nutjob. He’s too close to the subject to understand them.

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  76. teve tory says:

    @al-Alameda: Finding the most ignorant, racist, bible-thumping, rural white people, fired up and mad at the Evil Gummint for making them treat Negroes better, and then reorienting your political party to pander to them, worked great in the beginning. I mean it worked like gangbusters. Nixon got 60.7% of the popular vote–no presidential candidate has done better in 45 years.

    But it’s not 1972 anymore, and republicans don’t know what to do.

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