House Democrats have a very limited amount of time to impeach Donald Trump before he gains an almost impervious protection: an aegis of saber-rattling, news-dominating vitriol aimed at Iran, possibly followed very quickly by full-scale war.
There are many reasons why brink-of-war tension and war itself benefit the self-centered Trump, at least from his own blinkered vantage. They relegate the Mueller report and other investigations of his conduct to the spectatorial shadows. This is especially pertinent as the 2020 election looms, when negative press could unfavorably impinge on the minds of vulnerable voters in swing states. Trump wallows in the limelight, but better than playing defense are large-font headlines, just below the masthead, that showcase boldness and aggression.
It is well worth emphasizing that demagogues feed off of fear, hate and associated jingoism. As has been shown in crisis theory, a climate of chaos and disaster leads to a disoriented, malleable public. When people are terrified and off-balance, they run for the nearest psychological shelter, tossing critical thought aside like a heavy burden. Trump is nothing if not an authoritarian harbor who offers easy port for his scared, angry followers.
War or near-war conditions usually rally citizens around the top. George W. Bush gained a huge surge in popularity after 9/11. Although that popularity waned over the next few years, he was able to win re-election on the theme of decisive action for the cause of national defense. Trump could gain a big ratings boost through a favored tactic: a nostalgic us-vs-them scenario that labels Iran as the world's greatest villain.
The Pelosians continue to ply their passive wait-and-see strategy, befuddlingly conventional, while our unconventional President pushes the numbers. He breaks sacrosanct rules and aggressively bends political climates. Just recently, Trump said he would accept oppo research from foreign governments. This on top of his affinity for torturous dictators. The sum of his lies, smears, dog whistles, corruptions, and Constitution-attacking behaviors, such as violation of the emoluments clause, indicate an egotist unfettered by shame or principle. His goal is re-election by any feasible means, untroubled by havoc and carnage on a country-wide scale.
In this light, impeachment proceeding are no longer just about upholding the Constitution. As if that weren't enough, they now could blunt our momentum toward an ill-thought-out war, at a time when the US is saddled with a myopic confidence man who craves the spotlight above all else.
Much has been said about how public opinion swung against Nixon as the evidence reached the public. Democrats have a similar opportunity right now with Trump, though the window of opportunity is brief. Mueller himself nudged them to move on impeachment in his one public appearance since the release of the eponymous report.
Those in the House swore an oath to protect our country. As it stands, they are in violation of that oath. It's bad enough that Republicans claims ignorance. But even worse that Democrats admit that the President has committed impeachable offenses, and yet continue to do nothing. Add war with Iran to the ante. The Democrats are on the verge of self-induced tragedy. A debacle of oath-breaking and mealy-mouthed cowardice. Their failure will stand in history as a dark monument of how not to protect what you love--unless they act now.