In her weekly Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan may have written one of the more important paragraphs of the past couple of weeks:
[President Trump] was duly and legally elected by tens of millions of Americans who had legitimate reasons to support him, who knew they were throwing the long ball, and who, polls suggest, continue to support him. They believe the press is trying to kill him. “He’s new, not a politician, give him a chance.” What would it do to them, what would it say to them, to have him brusquely removed by his enemies after so little time? Would it tell them democracy is a con, the swamp always wins, you nobodies can make your little choices but we’re in control? What will that do to their faith in our institutions, in democracy itself?
Not only Trump’s hardcore supporters, but also many who’ve watched his advance with more than a little trepidation (including yours truly) see a concerted effort — an establishment coup, not unlike the classic military coup, in its way — at play and will not respond to his ouster with a collective “oh, well,” but with something more like, “oh, hell.” As in: “This is going to require more violence than we thought.”
As politicians leap or ease into normalizing rapid-fire impeachment proceedings and as journalists allow their liberal leanings to carry them into treating the coup as a reasonable political activity, they ought to consider whether this, rather than the temporary reality of the person occupying the White House, might, just maybe, be the most important consequence of their actions.
Of course, Noonan is an insider, and so she’s not willing to dismiss the insiders’ gathering wisdom that knocking The Donald out of office might still be worth doing. I’m not one of those who believes that Donald Trump is playing multi-dimensional chess, but Noonan & Co. should consider the strategic lay of the land. Consider:
A mystery: Why is the president never careful? He doesn’t act as if he’s picking his way through a minefield every day, which he is. He acts like he’s gamboling through safe terrain. Thus he indulges himself with strange claims, statements, tweets. He comports himself as if he has a buffer of deep support. He doesn’t. Nationally his approval numbers are in the mid to high 30s.
It was central to his appeal — and, I’d say, one of the truths upon which he’s stumbled — that this minefield isn’t actually real. That it’s a political illusion. He can’t capitulate on that point, or he’ll usher in the next escalation from his base, rather than remain protected by it.
Noonan imagines the GOP establishment marching in to the Oval Office and demanding that Trump get real (in a political sense). If he does that, his game is over. And the important point is that his game isn’t a game to people (like yours truly) who aren’t going to stand by and be ruled.