Comey, Flynn, Trump, Brutish, and Short

That pretty much describes the first 125 days of the Trump administration.

James B. Comey, Michael T. Flynn, and of course President Donald Trump himself have been the marquee names during the first four months or so of this drama-filled administration.

Comey, the former FBI director, recommended on July 4, 2016, that no criminal charges be brought against Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information while she was secretary of state, and since then he has been on center stage in the Trump saga. In his second act, on October 28, 2016, Comey said the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s conduct was back on. Then, three days before Election Day, Comey cleared Mrs. Clinton again. Then on May 9, Trump fired him.

Flynn, a three-star Army general with 33 years of military service, was said to have been considered by Donald Trump as a candidate for vice president before Mr. Trump decided on Mike Pence who was the governor of Indiana. After Trump’s inauguration, he named Flynn national security advisor. Shortly thereafter―remarkably shortly thereafter―Trump dismissed Flynn because he had misled Vice President Pence about communications he had had with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.

President Trump himself is also, obviously, a star of the show, both because of his modus operandi, including his tweeting, but also because of the unhinged desire of the progressive liberal Left to make sure that he gets nothing done. There is very little, if anything, on Trump’s wish list that corresponds to what’s on theirs. The carping and sniping have been incessant, and will continue.

This presidency has been brutish: Comey dismissed. Flynn dismissed. And now Trump mentioned in the same sentence as “impeachment” because of asking Comey to end the investigation of Flynn, and also, perhaps, because of firing him, and maybe even because of revealing classified information to the Russians (despite the fact that it was his right to do so as commander-in-chief) .

David Gergen said last week, “I think we’re in impeachment territory.” Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas has called for impeachment, and other Democrats, Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA), John Yarmuth (D-KY), and Mark Pocan (D-WI), have also mentioned the “i” word. Most likely, it’s just talk for the purpose of neutralizing President Trump. If they really believe it, they dream, for three reasons.

First: Do Democrats really want to impeach President Trump? He is probably the best fundraising tool they have. They are already raising money on his name in order to win elections for seats vacated by people who have joined the Trump administration. Donald Trump―President Trump―is for the Democrats what Obamacare and the threat of losing gun rights have been for Republicans. Democrats need President Trump.

Second: If Donald Trump were impeached, Vice President Pence would become president. How is that an improvement for the Democrats? Pence is well-liked, well-spoken, and well versed in the ways of Washington. He would be at least as capable of getting legislation through Congress as Trump is.  

Third: How would impeachment work? Only a simple majority of the House of Representatives is needed to impeach the president, but a vote of two-thirds of the Senate is required to convict. Although the Republicans hold a majority of House seats and could therefore vote to impeach without any Democrats, the Republicans (assuming all of them voted for impeachment) would need fifteen Democrats to join them in order to convict in the Senate.

So: Republicans in the House, crumbling under unbearable pressure from their good friends in the liberal progressive media whom they admire so much (joke alert), vote to impeach. Then the Senate votes and―whaddya know?―the Democrats don’t go along!

Now what?

Now Trump and the Republicans are at war with each other. And maybe the Democrats have made a deal with the president: they won’t vote for impeachment if he promises to, say, nominate their candidates for Supreme Court vacancies. That would make today’s Washington seem tranquil, and give new meaning to the term “brutish.”

Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan, or the matter, forme, and power of a commonwealth, ecclesiasticall and civill (1651) described the state of nature (i.e., before government) as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”―which an American wag once changed to “solitary, poor, nasty, British, and short.”

Life before government, according to Hobbes, was “warre of every man against every man.” That would be Trump’s Washington, and ours, after a failed impeachment attempt, and it is not certain that any success the Trump administration might subsequently have―even brokering peace in the Middle East―would end that “warre.” Republicans can be expected to figure that out and not, under any circumstances, go to war against President Trump.

Which is why one thing in this world is absolutely certain: Donald Trump will not be impeached.

That is the short of it.

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About Daniel Oliver

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review. Email him at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.