President Trump has reason to be distressed. The Gallup poll finds: “As Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives work through an impeachment inquiry regarding alleged abuses of office by President Donald Trump, approval of Congress is now at 25%. That is up from 18% in September, prior to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the impeachment inquiry following news of possible wrongdoing by the president in communications with Ukraine.” So much for the fear of a backlash against Democrats for initiating an impeachment inquiry.

Meanwhile, “Currently, 52% say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 46% say he should not be. This is roughly the opposite of what Gallup found in June when asked in the context of special [counsel] Robert Mueller’s investigation.” It took a year for public support for impeaching President Richard M. Nixon to reach the level that we reached in a little over a month. “More Democrats now favor Trump being removed from office than did for Nixon in July 1974 (71%). As many independents now favor Trump being impeached as did Nixon at the same time.”

Trump, who seemingly cared only about not being removed from office, is now flipping out thanks to the realization that he will in all likelihood join a select, tiny club of impeached presidents (Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton). He finally appears to grasp that he is about to suffer a permanent stain on his presidency. As a smart political observer suggested to me, his full-blown panic also might reflect a genuine worry that Republicans will abandon him in the Senate, thus putting him in real jeopardy of removal.

For once, Trump cannot thwart Congress by blocking witnesses (they show up despite orders not to), cannot come up with a satisfactory and coherent excuse for soliciting foreign intervention in our election and cannot distract the media nor normalize his conduct. His tricks don’t work when the questioners won’t be bullied and the enormity of his misdeeds drives the news cycle. Now politically impotent, he faces a special kind of public embarrassment that comes with impeachment. The injury to his ego becomes exponentially more severe with each Republican senator who votes for removal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke to reporters Oct. 17 about a White House meeting that ended with a walkout. (Reuters)

Layered on top of all that, a debacle in Syria created a rare moment of bipartisan unity on Wednesday when the House voted 354-60 (with 129 Republican votes joining 225 Democrats) to repudiate Trump’s decision to cut and run in Syria. Trump tried once again to desperately avoid blame for a decision that members of Congress and his own national security team easily predicted would be disastrous.

That, in turn, helped provoke a classic Trump temper tantrum. The Post reports:

Tensions between the president and lawmakers in both parties continue to grow, and Democratic leaders walked out of a White House meeting Wednesday after what they described as an insulting and “nasty diatribe” by Trump during which he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a “third-rate politician.”
“He just couldn’t handle it, so he kind of engaged in a meltdown,” Pelosi told reporters, referring to the 354-60-4 bipartisan vote in the House earlier Wednesday that broadly condemned the troop withdrawal. Later, Pelosi added: “I think now we have to pray for his health, because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”

And yet another European leader, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, was forced to endure a joint news conference as Trump launched rage-filled insults and baseless accusations against everyone (the Turks, Democrats, Pelosi, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, Jim Mattis), except for Turkey and Russia.

As on impeachment, Trump cannot spin his way out of a self-made disaster on Syria, cannot distract the media and cannot control Congress’s reaction. When deprived of scapegoats and the ability to distract the media, Trump melts down. He cannot acknowledge fault nor ignorance nor gullibility. Hence, like a toddler, he pitches a fit. One wonders what he will do when the House actually votes on impeachment.

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