What is most striking is the spectacle of the letter itself — a president so unhinged as to issue such an harangue; a White House entirely unable to stop him; a party so subservient to him that it would not trigger a search for a new nominee; a right-wing media bubble that will herald Trump for being Trump and excoriate Democrats for driving the president to this point; and a mainstream media not quite able to address a public temper-tantrum (resorting instead to euphemisms such as “scorching,” “searing,” etc.). The letter and the response (or lack thereof) is the perfect encapsulation of the state of American politics — in which one major party has bound itself to the mast of a raging, dangerous narcissist while the other cannot uphold the norms and institutions on which our democracy depends.
On the other side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declares: “I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process,” and defends his stance as though “signing up” for your own side is the expected course of action.
On one side, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) points out in a floor speech that McConnell did not provide “a single sentence — a single argument — as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony. Impeachment trials, like most trials, have witnesses. To have none would be an aberration.” Schumer points out that "the American people want the truth, and that’s why we have asked for witnesses and documents, to get at the whole truth and nothing but.”
On the other side, McConnell bizarrely says a trial is not about getting to the truth. "If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it over here in the Senate,” he said. “The answer is that the House should not impeach on this basis in the first place.” Actually, trials are where all available and relevant evidence is put forth.
To say the process is “partisan,” or that the two sides are “unable to agree,” misleads average Americans who think there is some shared responsibility for the result of one party’s willingness to subvert the truth and the Constitution. Trump brought impeachment on himself and has become, like his Fox News information source, untethered to reality. Republicans are refusing to live up to their oaths. That is the reality; the solution comes in 2020.
I take some solace in noting that female voters — who disfavor Trump’s performance and would vote against him by nearly 30 percentage points according to some polls — recoil from such outbursts. Many are rightly concerned by the damage an unfit and deeply disturbed president might bring. Perhaps the experience of having abusive spouses or angry male bosses makes women particularly sensitive to fits of fury and evidence of irrationality. If only male voters were as concerned, and as unwilling to see Trump as some sort of champion of the downtrodden white male in America, we could be assured of his defeat in 2020. Maybe the president’s meltdown (and we suppose it will get worse with time) will help open their eyes.