Trump is in trouble, and he knows it

This time looks different because both subjects are qualitatively different. Trump’s own words suggest he knows.

He has publicly complained that pro-Trump House Republicans erred in boycotting the committee, leaving no one on the panel to defend him or dilute the impact of a well-documented and destructive narrative of his efforts to overthrow the 2020 election. has also let it be known, in ways he apparently expected to be made public, that he fears the overthrow of Roe will have a negative political recovery for Republicans.

Skepticism is justified by any prediction that this or that controversy holds doom for Trump. There have been countless such controversies and predictions in the seven years since he first announced that he was running for president and began his dominance of national discourse.

But there is a certain way in which the revelations of January 6, and even more Roe v. Wade abolition is different from dozens of previous revolts and obsessions. Both represent clear forks along the way in matters of basic national politics. People are being asked to go one way or the other, with a living awareness that going one way or the other will have major and lasting consequences for the nation and even for themselves as individuals.

This was not true of most of the controversies in the Trump years. It was often said – usually as a metaphor, but increasingly as a literal comparison – that Trump and Trumpism put the nation in a “new civil war.”

Most times the comparison failed. As in modern times, the actual Civil War was a time when large sections of Americans looked at each other with mutual misunderstanding and contempt. At that time, however, no one was in doubt about the question: One side believed that slavery was a positive good that should be expanded as the nation grew with new states; the other believed that slavery was an evil institution that should not be expanded to new ones, but instead placed on a path to gradual extermination. And then, as Lincoln said in his second opening speech, came the war.

The same goes for other major moments of national conflict. In the 1930s, people who hissed FDR knew exactly why they were angry: He permanently moved the federal government’s reach into the private economy. That’s how the 1960s protesters also knew why they were on the streets: to end legal segregation and the Vietnam War.

The signature of the Trump era is that it generated indignation and contempt without, in most cases, a concrete question of national politics, which was clearly to be resolved by the outcome of the conflict. The issue of border crossings and the sight of children detained in cages was an exception. But for many of the arguments from the Trump presidency, the argument itself – and the way it separated one tribe from the other – was the primary point. Were you excited that Nancy Pelosi ripped a copy of Trump’s State of the Union speech, or were you shaken by it? Were you more outraged at Trump’s disgusting efforts to tie aid to Ukraine for his personal political purposes, or over the fact that Hunter Biden made lots of money in Ukraine to trade on his last name? By and by and by.

The two issues that now underlie the country are unmistakably in a different category.

The Supreme Court’s declaration that there is no longer a constitutional right to abortion now puts the issue entirely into the political realm where it is likely to remain for years to come. About one in five pregnancies in the United States ends in abortion. The country is now in the midst of a debate involving fundamental issues of rights and values ​​in an intimate sphere of everyday life. What’s more, the fact of this national debate is understood by all sides as a central part of Trump’s legacy – it would not have happened without the three judges he appointed contributing to a 5-4 decision.

The abuses Trump carried out in the wake of the 2020 election, which led to the January 6 violence on the Capitol, do not cross everyday life in the same intimate way as the abortion issue. But they similarly present a vibrant national election, of a kind that cannot be easily dismissed by blurring the question or claiming that it is all just politics as usual. Every school child knows that a deviation from the peaceful transfer of power is not usual. There are very few Trump supporters who are eager to support the argument that it is okay for a president to continue to claim fraud once his own Justice Department has told him they have looked and found none. The root of Trump’s appeal was that his various outbursts were all part of “owning libs” and driving opponents into distraction. White House Assistant Cassidy Hutchinson testified this week about a furious Trump throwing a plate at the wall. She cleaned the ketchup stain off the wall. Trump will not so easily erase the image of impotent rage – the opposite of the exuberant self-confidence that was the essence of his appeal to supporters.

One way to measure Trump’s predicament is to see it through the eyes of someone who supports his apparent agenda. If you are a staunch opponent of abortion rights, you may be grateful for what Trump did to change the Supreme Court. But would you consider Trump – who for years boasted of his promiscuity, who once claimed “I am very pro-choice ” and who is now worried about the consequences of the court’s decision – as the right person to take the fight further into the next, long-term phase? Let us say that you are sincerely concerned that efforts to facilitate voting by mail could dilute electoral integrity. Is Trump, with his ruthless claims and obvious self-preoccupation, really your ideal spokesman?

Two breathtaking developments – one on the Supreme Court, the other on the other side of the street by the House’s select committee – have sent American politics into a whole new realm. From experience and temperament, this is not an area where Trump is well equipped to thrive.

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