Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Will 2018 Be the End of the Trump Presidency?

As 2017 comes to an end, the usual predictions for the coming year are being made.  One issue that bookies are still taking wagers on is whether 2018 will see the end of the presidency of Donald Trump.  As much as I detest Trump - and Pence as well - and as much as I would be thrilled to see him exit the White House, as a piece in Vanity Fair lays out, 2018 will likely not see that dream realized.  As for 2019, the results of the 2018 midterm elections could shift things should the Democrats sweep and regain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Until we know that result, prognostications for 2019 would be premature.   Here are article highlights:
At this point, London bookies still think it’s likelier than not that Trump will exit before his first term is over, something no president has done while still alive. So it’s time to revisit the betting terrain and prognosticate for the coming year.
Will Donald Trump be impeached in 2018?  Mighty, mighty unlikely. If you don’t stand to multiply your investment by 20, I’d skip the bet. Impeachment is a political act, and the Republican majority will remain in place through 2018. If the investigations into collusion with Russia were yielding anything seriously damning (and if journalistic blunders on the subject weren’t outpacing scoops), it’d be different. As things stand, however, special counsel Robert Mueller seems to have found little in the way of collusion—at least that we know of—and instead shifted his focus to the obstruction of justice.
Obstruction of justice is a significant crime in itself, of course, but people are more willing to punish it if it’s part of the concealment of a bigger crime rather than the sum of the crime. As people are starting to notice, independent counsel investigations have a tendency to start by focusing on one thing and then indicting people for something else, after the process itself has made them trip over their own feet. Republicans are not going to join a pile-on over what role Donald Trump played in the false statements that former national security adviser Michael Flynn made to the F.B.I. Even Democrats are likely to flinch from impeachment talk, recalling what happened during the Clinton years.  In sum, make sure you get a big return on any Trump-impeachment bets.
Will Donald Trump be removed by the 25th Amendment?  Again—very, very unlikely. To remind readers, the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lays out an elaborate palace-coup process with which to depose a sitting president. Such an ouster is arguably even harder to pull off than impeachment, except in cases of obvious emergency. Unless Trump interrupts a state visit to tear off all his clothes and run down Pennsylvania Avenue in winter, the palace coup won’t happen.
Will Trump resign in 2018?  Still very unlikely. To be fair, the odds of resignation are slightly better than those of impeachment or of a 25th Amendment palace coup. It requires only one powerful man, Donald Trump, to sign on. . . . . The odds of this happening with Trump, however, are mighty low. Donald Trump, while thin-skinned and incapable of rising above provocation, is indefatigable as a fighter, reminiscent of Clinton, Nixon, and other presidents in his resilience. Resignation would wound his pride too severely, because there’s no face-saving way to do it.
Will the Democrats sweep the midterms? Yes and no. They’ll do great in the House. Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics predicts a 40-seat gain, which would give Democrats a handy majority. Midterm elections have favored the incumbent president’s party only twice in the past 60 years—the first in 1998, when Republicans pushed to impeach Bill Clinton, the second in 2002, when Americans were rallying after 9/11. Trump has poor approval ratings, and there are many vulnerable House Republicans.  Flipping the Senate, though, is a lot harder.
Will Trump destroy much of life on earth?  Trump could go to war with Iran. As the fiercely anti-war Pat Buchanan has warned, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley seems to be helping Trump to lay the groundwork for it. That would destroy Trump’s presidency, kill countless Iranians, and hasten the collapse of the United States as a great power. A bad outcome, to be sure. But it probably wouldn’t end in nuclear fire or mass civilian death in the United States.
As for North Korea, we may, ironically, be safer now that its nuclear program is nearly complete. It reduces Trump’s temptation to attack the country pre-emptively.

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