The warm ovation given to President Donald Trump and the first lady in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night had one timely political lesson: In Louisiana, and probably a lot of other places, impeachment is stupid.
Probably including South Carolina, as that state was also represented in the crowd at the national championship football game.
But that’s four votes in the U.S. Senate that are not going to stray from the president’s party-line dismissal of his critics.
For Louisiana’s five GOP members of the House, and two senators now sitting as “jurors” in the Senate “trial,” the response to Trump reiterated the political wisdom of their course.
Even for the pragmatic New Orleans liberal in the delegation, Cedric Richmond, the nature of the electoral calendar must show how futile impeachment has been from the beginning.
The president’s fate is not in the Senate trial but in the November election. The Iowa caucuses begin in days; Californians start voting early soon after.
It is a striking commentary on the excitable left that a veteran pol like Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California was forced to go along with her caucus’ stampede. She was raised in a political Italian-American family in Baltimore, where racial and ethnic divisions made politics more than merely complex.
Every political body is different and each is dysfunctional in its own way. But what are the political consequences of the impeachment misjudgment?
That the president holds on to his faithful in Louisiana is not unexpected. Those voters should be more concerned about his self-serving conspiracy to sic a foreign power’s prosecutors on one of his political rivals, the former vice president of the United States.
In the Oval Office that day, “basket of deplorables” hardly overstates the situation.
Still, this is an obscure issue to most Americans. The Tiger fans in the Superdome were not an ill-educated bunch. Some perhaps are not fond of the president politically but applauded him for appearing for LSU’s triumph.
That’s normal politics. In his reelection campaign last year, Gov. John Bel Edwards also wrapped himself in purple-and-gold.
But the reaction may be a sign that impeachment’s case has not reached the broad middle of the country.
Why was there not on Capitol Hill a motion of censure or other rebuke short of impeachment? After all, there was no way that there would be an outbreak of conscience in the Trump-worshipping pews of the Senate GOP caucus.
Among those worshippers: U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge, who will seek what seems a fairly safe reelection in November. What’s his principal political problem? That he will somehow annoy the peevish president and get, a few tweets later, a challenger from the right.
Today’s situation dances entirely to the calendar of the Trump reelection campaign.
As Democrats tangle in dispiriting debates that have not engaged the public, Trump Central can extend or cut off the Senate “trial” almost at will, depending on the polling.
The polls suggest the electorate is evenly divided on whether the president should be removed from office. That’s not at all a good report for Trump. But his opponents are giving him a strong argument that he is beset by faction at a time when he is delivering a strong economy and relative peace abroad.
For the dwindling number of voters raised on the probity, prudence and propriety of the late President George H.W. Bush — or, in Louisiana, the late Gov. David C. Treen — Trump’s grotesque behavior must be a trial.
Still, Democrats are today stampeding to the left on the campaign trail, with the result that the president appears to be holding on to a competitive position in key states. Trump lost the popular vote heavily but won the presidency by about 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. There were other very close states in that election, like Florida, and they’re still close this year.
But close for self-avowed socialists, Harvard professors, wet-behind-the-ears mayors, undistinguished senators, a former vice president pushing 80?
President Richard M. Nixon resigned in disgrace before he could be removed. But he had shrewd advice about how to win as a Republican: Run like hell to the right in the primaries, and then run like hell toward the center in the general election.
While the calendar and the impeachment fiasco favor the president, there may be time for Democrats to run like hell toward the center. But it’s not a sure thing that they want to.
Impeach and reelect. Not a bad plan for the president.
Email Lanny Keller at email@example.com.