Trump on the rack as trial goes live on TV

The biter bit: TV propelled Trump to celebrity and power. Will it now be his undoing? © Reuters

Is it the beginning of the end for Trumpism? Yesterday millions tuned in to watch day one of the show trial of the century, the public impeachment of the world’s most powerful man.

At precisely 15:00 Coordinated Universal Time yesterday, in the spacious, columned, television-friendly chambers of the Ways and Means Committee, the grandest hearing room in the US House of Representatives, where the national laws of the USA are made, there began a televised trial that will spend months picking apart Donald Trump’s presidency.

Trump himself will not be appearing, but the entire world will be able to watch a series of career diplomats lay out evidence of the president’s alleged attempts to coax Ukraine’s president into opening an investigation against political rival, the presidential candidate Joe Biden — in other words, wrongly using his position for political gain.

US political experts are saying that “Trumpism” — the brand of angry, emotional Right-wing populism used by Trump to win the presidential election — is really what is on trial, more than Trump himself.

It could be the moment that historians identify as the turning point when Trumpism started to fizzle out and die.

Why?

Until this moment in his presidency, a strong US economy and an era of sustained peace have meant that Trump’s support has remained solid. His opponents have also had strong public support, but not enough seriously to threaten his position.

Now his support is beginning to crumble. And the relentless scrutiny of a daily hearing on every major TV channel in the country is only likely to speed the process up.

But is it really the beginning of the end?

Turning point?

Yes it is, say some. He is now much more likely to lose next year’s presidential election and find that his legacy is rapidly consigned to history.

Don’t be so sure, say others. To the extent that Trump’s goal was to hurt Joe Biden’s presidential prospects, his strategy is arguably working.

You Decide

  1. Will Donald Trump be remembered as a one-off or is his style the new norm?

Activities

  1. Design a “Wanted” poster for Donald Trump.

Some People Say...

“The genius of impeachment lay in the fact that it could punish the man without punishing the office.”

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007), US historian

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Predictions are hard, but it seems extraordinarily unlikely that Trump will be able to avoid impeachment at this point. Democrats hold a majority in the House of Representatives and everything their “impeachment inquiry” has turned up so far tends to confirm the charges that kicked the entire process off — Trump sought to use his powers of office to press Ukraine into doing political favours for him.
What do we not know?
What’s more in doubt is the vote count. Democrats would like to be able to say that they unearthed evidence so compelling that even some House Republicans defected and joined them in impeaching Trump. Republicans would prefer to see impeachment pass narrowly with many of the more vulnerable Democrats defecting to vote against impeachment. Legally speaking, the question of the vote count has no relevance in the House, but it helps set the stage for the next phase in the Senate.

Word Watch

Coordinated Universal Time
Named as such because it is the standard by which all time zones are based. Contrary to popular belief, UTC is a standard even though it is mistaken for a time zone, which it is not.
Coax
Gently or persistently persuade someone to do something.
Joe Biden
Former US vice president and current Democratic front-runner to run against Trump in 2020.

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