Now that Donald Trump has been impeached a second time, I cannot help but think how all of this could have been avoided if the president of the United States were not such a dumb person.
Trump is in the mess he is in because of what he has done. He was impeached because he helped instigate a violent breach of the Capitol in an attempt to somehow overturn the results of the presidential election. Top Republicans are increasingly scrambling to pretend like they don’t know him, and 10 of them—a very small number but still significant in the Trump era—voted to impeach him on Wednesday. He is more reviled than ever before.
It did not need to be this way, but Trump is really stupid! He was stupid to think that he could pull off a massive election fraud with zero planning, coordination, or evidence. He was even stupider to split the Georgia Republican Party so badly that it cost the GOP the Senate. And he reached depths of stupidity formerly unknown to human science when he had a baying mob at his feet and sent that mob directly to where all the other most powerful politicians in America work.
Trump had every chance to set great things up for himself. It was pretty quickly clear, after the haze of the first couple of days, that he had lost the 2020 election, but he came out of everything much better than he could have. Republicans looked likely to hold the Senate, they made big gains in the House, and Trump’s vote surged all over the country in ways that left Democrats reeling and fearful.
All Trump had to do was shrug his shoulders and say, “you win some you lose some,” and the world would have been his oyster. The pundits would have wept at his ultimate devotion to the American way. He would have ridden off into the sunset and lived to fight another day.
Trump didn’t do that. Instead, he made the shoddiest, most incompetent stolen election attempt. George W. Bush must have been appalled! That’s not how they were taught to steal elections at Kennebunkport, old chum. Dumb move #1.
Then Trump decided that he was going to destroy the Republican Party’s attempts to hold the Senate. Democrats ran a brilliant campaign, but they were indisputably helped along by Trump’s idiotic machinations. There is every reason to think that Republicans could have held at least one of their Senate seats in Georgia if they weren’t dealing with Trump’s efforts to poison the well against his own party. Joe Biden’s agenda could have been left in tatters. Trump could have been given the credit for keeping the GOP at the center of power. Now he gets to be the first president to have lost the White House and both branches of Congress since Herbert Hoover. A true legacy of dumbery.
But even his election insanity wasn’t ultimately that big a problem for him within the GOP. The majority of congressional Republicans voted to overturn the results of the election, after all. No, the biggest dumb move Trump made was to tell his followers to target Republicans in their literal office building.
It’s not like the GOP gives a shit about the sanctity of American democracy, or people, or even the lives of cops. If the Trump mob had run riot anywhere other than the Capitol—even with the same amount of violence and mayhem—Republicans would have called them heroes and patriots. This is not theoretical. Kyle Rittenhouse is a Republican hero. The GOP got the gun-brandishing St. Louis couple to speak at its presidential convention. This is who they are.
But no, Trump told them to go fuck Mike Pence and co. up at the Capitol. He picked the one place in the entire world where Republicans would have to at least pretend to think it was a bad look to go on a violent white nationalist rampage. Plus the mob probably messed up a lot of their stuff, which they surely resented. Dumb!!!
All is not lost for Trump, by a long shot. The vast majority of Republicans voted against impeachment, and will likely continue to do so. But he has nevertheless taken the biggest self-inflicted blow of his entire career. His prospects for 2024 look bleaker than ever. He has been robbed of Twitter, his biggest megaphone. He is, for the moment, persona non grata with corporate America. This is all bad news, and it is what happens when extremism collides with a crippling lack of brain function.