15 November 2019

Impeachment in the wingnutosphere, and a few observations

Public hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry have begun -- a process that some hope will shift public opinion against Trump.  Since I read right-wing blogs and sites regularly in order to keep up with what's going on among the opposition, I'm getting a pretty good sense of how they're reacting.

Among right-wing blogs, I'd say these posts at Adrienne's Corner, The Last Tradition, and Catholic Truth (read the comments too) are typical.  They believe the process is failing so abjectly, has backfired on the Democrats and blown up in their faces so spectacularly, that it does not even occur to them to imagine that anyone could have any other interpretation of what they're seeing.  Some blogs have barely bothered to mention impeachment at all, preferring to stay focused on the real crimes -- Pizzagate, Benghazi, Burisma, the "Russia collusion hoax", etc. -- which they are confident will soon take center stage with indictments of Obama, Hillary, Biden, etc.

I would recommend that any proposed strategy for future politics in this country not be dependent on hopes for having rational discussions with that element of the population.

As to right-wing news sites, Breitbart has been giving the testimony a pro-Trump spin and stressing the boost to his fund-raising.  RedState is focusing on peripheral stories to undermine and mock the process.  Fox has too many articles to single out just a couple as typical, but they seem to be emphasizing the general dullness of the proceedings.

At NRO, Kyle Smith also gloats that most of the public is uninterested in the hearings, and he has a point.  John McCormack notes that day one drew over 13 million viewers on TV, but this is impressive only in comparison to other TV events like the World Series.  It's five or six percent of the voting-eligible population, suggesting that interest in the process isn't reaching much beyond the tiny political-junkie minority.

Kevin Williamson also has a point, at a deeper level, asserting that the impeachment battle is simply a manifestation of the deep tribal division within American society.  I don't agree that that's true of the substance of the hearings -- Trump's violations of the law and the constitution are real, and many Democrats really do care about them.  But it is true that Americans are engaged in a bitter culture war about whether our society should be run on the basis of the Christian taboo system and an economic ideology contrived to preserve the position of the 1%, or on the basis of the kind of secular democratic-socialist consensus that prevails in most other advanced countries.  And clearly the sheer fervor of the strong left's opposition to Trump and support for impeachment draws its energy from this.  So does the hard-core Evangelical and other right-wing fanaticism in defense of Trump and loathing for all things liberal and secular.  To them it's a matter of fundamental values, and any opposition is intrinsically illegitimate regardless of the facts of the case.

I don't deny being a strong partisan on the secular side of that culture war myself, probably more so than most American liberals and atheists are, since the historical perspective I take makes me so aware of how malignant the right-wing mentality is -- especially now that it's become dominated by reactionary religion.  But this also gives me a deeper sense of how intense and immobile the enemy's stance is.  There's no way a parade of guys in suits testifying about details of a phone call we already basically know about is going to make a dent.

And -- getting back to impeachment specifically -- this is a problem.  I've been reading a lot about the impeachment hearings on various liberal and mainstream blogs and news sites, and I just can't see how this is anything other than a complete snoozefest.  It's been known for weeks that Trump tried to pressure the Ukrainian government into "investigating" Biden, or at least into saying they would do so.  Anyone who refuses to believe that has already shown they're impervious to any imaginable evidence.  What we've seen in the hearings so far is basically just repetitions of that same fact, sometimes with a few details added.  This is what we're counting on to lure the vast middle away from their video games and TV dramas and get them riveted on politics?  Granted, it's early in the process, but so far I see no sign that this is going to have any impact on public perception of Trump at all, much less sway enough Trumpanzee voters to enable the necessary 20 Republican senators to vote for removal during the trial phase.

As an aside, Democratic politicians need to stop saying things like "our job is to shape public opinion".  That bit of arrogance could easily go viral and poison mass perception of the whole process, de-legitimizing it to the point where it really would backfire.

But so far, on the whole, impeachment looks likely to come and go with barely a ripple of impact.  It's firing up the anti-left frenzy of the rabid wingnutosphere, but they're pretty much in a state of maximum frenzy all the time anyway.  When the Senate fails to reach a two-thirds majority for removal, it may lead to despair among those on the left who have long clung to impeachment as a deus ex machina to end the current nightmare.  But in the months between then and the election, Trump will generate plenty of further outrages to re-energize them.  It's what he does.  For most of the public, impeachment will be a non-event, barely noticed.

I hope that then we can finally put the undivided focus of our political efforts where it should have been all along -- on the election.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

One, I do t need pizzazz. I need Cheeto in jail.
Two, there’s no reasoning with the cognitively impaired, I.e. the trumpanzees.
Three, Cheeto intimidated a (female) witness in the middle of her deposition.

What a Friday.


15 November, 2019 12:45  
Blogger Ami said...

I am related to many right wing folks. I try to avoid conversation with them as often as possible, as it seems that politics aren't our only areas of disagreement.

But my mom is an exception, she's my mom and I love her. I endeavor to keep our interactions out of the political/religious crevasse, she's waaaay down there and doesn't want me to throw her a rope.

Her opinion about this week's events is based on the appearances of the players, Pelosi is 'very haggard and looks crazy' etc.

When I asked her if she thinks the right side has committed any criminal activity, she said, "Did you know she has a private jet?"

It aggravates me that people are profiting from the circus.

And I always believe we never really arrive at a true conclusion, regardless of which side wins. Too many players and too much obfuscation and male bovine fecal matter.

I'm convinced that the only truly sane individuals are the 12 and under crowd I work with.

As always, thanks for the perspective.

15 November, 2019 13:05  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: I know that "the media are dumb because they're talking about lack of pizzazz" is kind of the talking point of the day, but the fact that this process is mostly boring and isn't catching the public's attention does matter. It won't get Trump out of office, much less in jail, unless it has at least some impact on public opinion. I never expected it would move the needle enough to get the Senate to vote to remove Trump, but I'd hoped that it might at least do some damage that would last until election day and help us beat him then. At this rate, it won't even do that. It might even backfire.

Ami: I have the same problem, and rigorously avoid discussing politics. There's no point. Maybe people will eventually come around, maybe not, but it's not worth the stress of having exhausting arguments.

Private jet? Does she know DeVos has nine yachts?

15 November, 2019 17:43  
Blogger Adam said...

Republicans are still in denial

16 November, 2019 07:24  
Blogger Susan said...

I'm a retired 66 yo married woman in a Mid-Atlantic state and a registered Democrat who votes independent. I found the 2 days of public testimony to be riveting. I am glued to the tube watching these real-life witnesses describing what it's been like to live and work in Trumpworld. I think most people know that Trump commits a lot of crimes. Impeachment is just a question of whether or not people care. I do.

16 November, 2019 15:14  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Adam: That's pretty much their only option.

Susan: I found the 2 days of public testimony to be riveting. I am glued to the tube

I admire your degree of civic engagement, but unfortunately the empirical evidence suggests that you're in a rather small minority.

16 November, 2019 18:38  

Post a Comment

<< Home