Democrats like to make out that Donald Trump is terrified of the impeachment juggernaut they are driving at his head. The president is dissembling on Twitter, they say, because he’s in deep trouble. He knows he’s cornered. He’s flailing. He’s spooked. Resistance to the resistance is futile.
The problem is, Trump — and, even more so, his online persona @realDonaldTrump — seems to be relishing the impeachment saga. He does his phony melancholy routine, in which he says how sad it is because we should all be focusing on his many achievements. Don’t believe it. He is simultaneously courting the whole Ukraine brouhaha, dragging it out himself.
Why else would he have live-tweeted it last week? And look at his flirtatious reaction to Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion he testify at the hearings: ‘Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!’
Democrats and NeverTrumpers will say that is the bluster of a guilty man. But it might also be an attempt to draw attention to the story. Impeachment is — altogether now — a political not legal process, one that Trump thinks he can win. He might even believe that impeachment is his surest path to re-election next year.
He may be wrong, of course. Trump’s opponents cite the latest polls saying that a large majority of Americans support the impeachment process, say that they have been following the congressional hearings closely, and 51 percent say he should be impeached by the House and removed from the Senate. Impeachment must be hurting him, then.
Or is it? Trump understands that such public sentiments are far more fluid than the media seems to realize. Moreover, those polls should be set against the fact that Trump’s approval ratings have crept up ever since the impeachment hearings began in earnest, and the outcome of recent focus groups showing suburban swing voter skepticism about the process.
Might that be why Trump is keen to play with the idea of testifying, despite the obvious risk of perjuring himself?
Americans may still be feeling an initial revulsion at Trump’s phone manner with Volodymyr Zelensky. They may have further suspicions as to Trump’s motives in Ukraine, or admiration for the dignified (always so dignified, aren’ they?) State Department officials who are called on to express again the concerns they felt.
But imagine the disappointment and resentment many people will feel towards the Democrats if this much-hyped Ukraine scandal falls flat. When Trump tweets about WITCH HUNTS, maybe he isn’t ‘brazenly’ defying justice and logic. Maybe he really does feel he is going to be vindicated, as he believes he was with Russia, and that the public will reward his innocence with votes. Maybe the 2020 election result — that other, rather bigger political not legal process — will prove him right.