CVIndependent

Fri11222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On this week's depressing "been there, done that" weekly Independent comics page: Apoca Clips helps Li'l Trumpy with a tweet; Red Meat asks God for advice; This Modern World looks at the conservative view on our health-care system; Jen Sorensen examines a shooter's manifesto; and The K Chronicles asks white people to step up their figurative game.

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Editor’s Note: Informed Dissent is a column, by alternative newsmedia veteran Jeffrey C. Billman, that explores the age of Trump, mixing political and historical insights with biting, unapologetic commentary. It will appear a couple of times per month at CVIndependent.com.

By my count, Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last Wednesday, July 24, produced six significant headlines.

He confirmed that he had not exonerated President Trump. He said that Trump asked his staff to falsify records. He suggested there were “currently” FBI investigations into whether people in Trump’s orbit were compromised. He agreed that Trump’s written answers to his questions were not “always truthful.” He admitted (more or less) that Trump had met the three elements of obstruction of justice. And, though he tried to walk it back, he let it slip that, had Department of Justice policy not prohibited him from doing so, he would have indicted Donald Trump.

But this being Washington, D.C., those six headlines were muddled in the kind of second-rate political theater only Congress can deliver: backbenchers desperate for a moment in the spotlight; Democrats eager for the kill; Republicans slobbering for the president’s affection; and, most significantly, a halting, underwhelming and reluctant star witness.

The Beltway media mainly judged it on those terms—the spectacle. For a prime example of the genre, see NBC’s Chuck Todd, who offered this trenchant analysis on Twitter: “On substance, Democrats got what they wanted: that Mueller didn’t charge Pres. Trump because of the (DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel) guidance, that he could be indicted after he leaves office, among other things. But on optics, this was a disaster.”

It says a lot about this moment—about the failures of the media, about the perils of polarization, about the frailty of our democratic norms—that a special counsel could tell Congress under oath that the president had committed crimes, but, because of the 74-year-old’s lack of verve, this is considered a win for the president. But it also speaks to how thoroughly Democrats have botched this whole affair.

This spectacle, after all, was unnecessary. Mueller had already said what he needed to say. He’d laid out a report—448 pages—that all but begged Congress to do what he could not: Hold Donald Trump accountable.

After the Mueller report became public, House Democrats should have started impeachment hearings, even though there was no chance the Senate would convict Trump, and even though such a course could prove politically treacherous. It was their constitutional obligation.

They’ve obviously not done so. Speaker Nancy Pelosi—though she talks of “crimes that were committed against our Constitution” and Trump’s “existential threat to our democracy”—wants to go slow, waiting until they have the “strongest possible hand.” She’s deemed impeachment too risky, especially for her caucus’ freshmen, many of whom come from moderate suburban districts. She’s also worried that voters don’t understand how impeachment works, and that the base will ultimately be disappointed when the Senate shrugs aside the House’s indictment, and Trump declares vindication.

These aren’t unreasonable arguments. But they miss the point.

It’s the same point missed by those who caution against focusing on Trump’s racism. Talking about his attacks on U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, or his border concentration camps, or his embrace of white nationalists, they say, could detract from “kitchen table” issues that matter to voters—health care, the environment, education, jobs.

To the degree it matters, Democrats should, of course, offer an agenda. But the dirty secret of American elections is that big policy proposals don’t matter all that much. In our polarized electorate, people are more motivated to vote against the other side than for their own. The 2018 blue wave, for instance, didn’t happen because suburbanites fell in love with Democrats’ plans; rather, they were fed up with Trump’s antics, pissed off that the GOP tried to gut the Affordable Care Act, and desiring some adult supervision in Washington.

Another thing: If you’re closely attuned to policy decisions, you probably see an administration that stumbles between dangerously inept and actively malevolent on most issues. If you’re not, however—and most people aren’t—you see an economy doing pretty well. And for any other president, absent a recession in the next year, that would probably be enough to win re-election.

But Donald Trump isn’t any other president. He’s not a normal president. And treating him like one could prove self-defeating.

Consider this: On the one hand, Democrats are telling Americans that Trump is, in Pelosi’s words, an “existential threat to our democracy”—a corrupt, racist liar who has obstructed justice, violated campaign finance laws and welcomed foreign interference into elections. He’s defying congressional subpoenas. And he might be a sexual predator.

On the other hand, they’re not going to do anything about it—at least not yet. Eventually, perhaps.

How does that not signal that this is all a game? This is the worst kind of mixed messaging, the kind that muddies any sense of moral clarity. And it’s the kind that could give Trump a second term.

Of course, Donald Trump shouldn’t be impeached because it’s good politics. Donald Trump should be impeached because he is uniquely unfit to be president; because he’s a criminal; because impeaching him is the right thing to do.

If Trump truly poses a threat to our democracy, should we be talking about anything else?

Contact Jeffrey C. Billman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in National/International

On this week's poor-optics weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World checks in to see how all this Trump news is being dealt with on Parallel Earth; Jen Sorensen shakes her head at the abundance of warning signs; The K Chronicles tips his hat to the high school production of Alien; Apoca Clips gets Li'l Trumpy's response to Robert Mueller's testimony; and Red Meat wonders why Milkman Dan has blood all over his uniform.

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On this week's wet, moist and tropically humid weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorensen quizzes a Trump supporter on racism; The K Chronicles wishes people were more skeptical; This Modern World enjoys a Donald Trump Decoder Ring; Red Meat listens as Milkman Dan tells Karen a cottage cheese-tinged story; and Apoca Clips ponders Li'l Trumpy's racism.

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On this week's minty-fresh weekly Independent comics page: The K Chronicles finds similarities between Donald Trump and the Grateful Dead; This Modern World ponders Nancy Pelosi's political game of chess; Jen Sorensen wonders how Twitter would have handled past historic moments; Apoca Clips listens as Li'l Trumpy spews racism regarding female members of Congress; and Red Meat teaches a valuable lesson.

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On this week's fun, festive and frank weekly Independent comics page: Apoca Clips examines Li'l Trumpy's Fourth of July speech; Red Meat gets creative; (Th)ink celebrates the U.S. Women's World Cup win; This Modern World looks at what pundits are saying about our country's border concentration camps; and Jen Sorensen scratches her head over Mississippi's new imitation-meat-labeling law.

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On this week's fireworks-lit weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorensen ponders the differing definitions of "populism"; The K Chronicles bemoans a decision by The New York Times; This Modern World gets to the bottom of the latest Trump accusation with help from the Detective-in-Chief; Red Meat disapproves of a birthday present from Milkman Dan; and Apoca Clips quizzes Li'l Trumpy about his excursion into North Korea.

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On this week's convection oven-like weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World eavesdrops on some purveyors of "fake news"; Jen Sorenson ponders the Democratic Party's 2020 election strategy; The K Chronicles offers a tribute to Dr. John, who passed away earlier this month; Red Meat chats with a neighbor while trying to retrieve a garden tool; and Apoca Clips celebrates Li'l Trumpy's big win.

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On this week's royal family-approved weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorensen dreams of an alternate form of Twitter; (Th)ink wants a boycott of Linda Fairstein; This Modern World ponders the aftermath of Robert Mueller's announcement; Red Meat quizzes an injured friend; and Apoca Clips listens in as Li'l Trumpy whines about the USS John McCain.

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On this week's sanitized-for-your-protection weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson places the refusal of Facebook to remove that Nancy Pelosi video in historical context; (Th)ink looks at Robert Mueller's warning; This Modern World predicts what will happen after the 2020 election; Red Meat seeks some extra work; and Apoca Clips ponders at the end of Jon Voight's legacy.

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