Trump, GOP can’t stand hear­ing the I-word, es­pe­cially from a woman

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - GENE LYONS eu­gene­[email protected]­hoo.com

What an out­rage! A Demo­cratic woman talk­ing like a Repub­li­can man! Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump should march right into the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, grab this Mus­lim wench by her (ex­ple­tive deleted), and de­port her to what­ever bleep-hole coun­try she came from.

Never mind that Trump him­self used the same of­fen­sive word in re­fer­ring to China in a 2011 speech. The real of­fense was that Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Detroit Demo­crat of Pales­tinian de­scent, also used the “I-word” with re­spect to Trump’s po­lit­i­cal sur­vival.

Im­peach the mother-abuser, she said. Too bad New York Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sioCortez didn’t say it. The en­tire GOP con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion would have spon­ta­neously com­busted.

Speak­ing of whom, it’s clear my fel­low old white dudes in the GOP cau­cus are smit­ten. She makes them crazy. That col­lege video of Oca­sio-Cortez danc­ing was sup­posed to em­bar­rass her. Um, no. In­stead, Repub­li­can men worry their wives might catch them watch­ing the thing on their phones.

Mean­while, in the in­ter­est of bi­par­ti­san­ship, a timely bit of ad­vice: Trad­ing in­sults with a smart-aleck New York City bar­tender is a good way to make a pub­lic fool of your­self. Boys, she’s heard it all be­fore, and she’s got more witty put­downs than the late Don Rick­les. Try to get over her.

But back to the adult por­tion of this col­umn. Sure, Oca­sio-Cortez has got­ten more at­ten­tion than a con­gres­sional fresh­man de­serves — partly due to New York me­dia provin­cial­ism, but also be­cause she she’s sharp on TV. It’s the way of the world. Democrats elected a lot of im­pres­sive women in 2018. Hope­fully we’ll hear from more of them in time.

And yes, Rep. Tlaib’s out­burst was both ill-ad­vised and pre­ma­ture, although Trump­ists ob­ject­ing to pro­fan­ity aren’t real per­sua­sive. Par­tic­u­larly not Trump him­self, who said the Detroit con­gress­woman “dis­hon­ored her­self.” Don’t you love it when the world’s big­gest vul­gar­ian plays at be­ing a stuffed shirt?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi re­acted coolly to im­peach­ment talk. Rep. Tlaib, she said, “does not speak for the Demo­cratic cau­cus.” Most es­tab­lish­ment Democrats, such as House Ma­jor­ity Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Ju­di­ciary Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler, D-N.Y., took the same line.

Many Demo­cratic can­di­dates took their cue from Pelosi dur­ing the 2018 cam­paign. They stressed prac­ti­cal is­sues like health care, vot­ing rights, in­fra­struc­ture and jobs, let­ting vot­ers’ dis­gust with Trump take care of it­self.

“We have to wait and see what hap­pens with the Mueller re­port,” Pelosi also said. “We shouldn’t be im­peach­ing for a po­lit­i­cal rea­son, and we shouldn’t avoid im­peach­ment for a po­lit­i­cal rea­son.”

Ex­actly right. A pre­ma­ture im­peach­ment would do lit­tle more than sat­isfy cable TV’s need for po­lit­i­cal melo­drama with­out per­suad­ing vot­ers that Democrats can ac­tu­ally gov­ern. In my opin­ion, it would also be Trump’s only real hope of po­lit­i­cal sur­vival, much less of re­elec­tion come Novem­ber 2020.

Self-dis­ci­pline is def­i­nitely in order. Be­cause while we hear a lot about the pas­sions of Trump’s cult-like “base,” less gets said about how Democrats feel — a co­hort already con­sid­er­ably larger, and grow­ing. The 2018 midterm elections showed that. And real-world is­sues aside, the sin­gle strong­est emo­tion unit­ing them is sheer con­tempt for Trump and Trump­ism, his pro-wrestling-style, au­thor­i­tar­ian spec­ta­cle.

David Leon­hardt has laid out the case for re­moval in a pow­er­fully re­strained New York Times col­umn head­lined “The Peo­ple vs. Don­ald J. Trump.”

“He has repeatedly put his own in­ter­ests above those of the coun­try. He has used the pres­i­dency to pro­mote his busi­nesses. He has ac­cepted fi­nan­cial gifts from for­eign coun­tries. He has lied to the Amer­i­can peo­ple about his relationship with a hos­tile for­eign gov­ern­ment.

“… He has called for the pros­e­cu­tion of his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies and the pro­tec­tion of his al­lies. He has at­tempted to ob­struct jus­tice. He has tried to shake the pub­lic’s con­fi­dence in one demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tion after an­other, in­clud­ing the press, fed­eral law en­force­ment and the fed­eral ju­di­ciary.”

Trump’s lies about and his oddly sub­servient relationship to Vladimir Putin alone jus­tify his re­moval. Only last week, the pres­i­dent gave an ac­count of Rus­sia’s 1979 in­va­sion of Afghanistan so bizarrely at odds with his­tory that even the Wall Street Jour­nal was hor­ri­fied. “We can­not re­call a more ab­surd mis­state­ment of his­tory by an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent,” ed­i­tors wrote.

It was straight-up Krem­lin pro­pa­ganda. Strange, very strange.

But most Amer­i­cans aren’t there yet. The worst thing Democrats could do would be to force things pre­ma­turely. Hear­ings, def­i­nitely. How­ever, reg­u­lar­iz­ing im­peach­ment as a par­ti­san weapon could have the op­po­site ef­fect, weak­en­ing rather than strength­en­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion.

What’s needed are a few coura­geous Re­pub­li­cans. Be­cause once the dam breaks, it will come a flood.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Sur­rounded by fam­ily, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., takes the oath of of­fice on Thomas Jef­fer­son’s English­trans­lated Qu­ran last week.

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