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In this article, @Sulliview argues that "talk of impeachment, all-but-taboo in Big Media’s coverage of Trump, [has] moved from the margins into the mainstream." She attributes that development mainly to a prominent essay in @TheAtlantic. That's not right. washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/styl…
There's no denying that #impeachment talk has accelerated over the past few months. But I'm not convinced that this past week was really such a Rubicon when considered in broader perspective, or that a handful of well-argued essays in liberal magazines are the drivers of change.
For starters, there's been no shortage of impeachment talk in mainstream publications since Trump took office. I've gathered quite a few such articles in this @ShallTakeCare database, which includes analyses tracing back to before Trump even took office. takecareblog.com/blog/impeachin…
Moreover, as @tribelaw and I document in our book, "To End A Presidency," mainstream impeachment talk has been one of the defining and most consistent features of Trump's presidency, due largely to his disturbing conduct & intense political polarization. amazon.com/End-Presidency…
Critically, though, the rise of impeachment talk in recent years isn't *only* a Trump phenomenon. Ever since the failed Clinton impeachment, calls to remove the president have become standard fare among his most dedicated opponents. We saw this repeatedly under #Bush and #Obama.
Indeed, that's one reason why we wrote a @WSJ op-ed explaining that widespread impeachment talk is actually a high risk proposition for dedicated defenders of democracy (even if the nation ultimately concludes that impeachment is warranted for Trump). wsj.com/articles/the-d…
That's also why we wrote this @USATODAY op-ed about the perils of assuming that only crimes are impeachable. That mindset leads a president's opponents to label every misdeed as a crime, and thus to over-criminalize even ordinary political disagreement. usatoday.com/story/opinion/…
Moreover, as @tribelaw and I note in our book, one of the most perverse features of recent impeachment talk is that it's often stirred and promoted *not* by the president’s opponents, but rather by his supporters, as a way to sustain political engagement and fire up the base.
A related danger is that a constant drumbeat of impeachment talk normalizes the subject into irrelevancy: it becomes background noise in our partisan civil war, instead of a clarion call to defend the Constitution. We risk engulfing ourselves in a huge boy-who-cried-wolf dilemma.
In his review of our book, @davidfrum elaborates on that warning: "As Americans talk more about impeachment, they seem to care less. The idea that a president could be a threat to the democratic system as a whole ... has faded." theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
That's not to say impeachment talk is bad. Far from it. One of the most important steps in an impeachment process is persuading the public that this extraordinary option must be considered as a response to presidential wrongdoing. That requires extensive national deliberation.
But contrary to @Sulliview, there's been plenty of impeachment talk for the past two years. That includes the mainstream press. And it's entirely possible that strategies surrounding impeachment will be advanced *or* badly undermined by these persistent calls for Trump's ouster.
More fundamentally, it must be understood that #impeachment talk has a long history and evolves in response to *many* inputs. This past week, the (disputed) @BuzzFeed allegations, coupled with #shutdown outrage, propelled it forward. Lord only knows what will happen next week.
A final thought: support for impeachment has *never* cleared 50% in opinion polls. It's generally hovered between 38-45%. That's not enough to impeach & remove Trump. Further, many key factual & legal questions still remain unanswered. The path ahead remains deeply uncertain.
To learn more about #impeachment -- both in general and in the context of this administration -- check out this recording of an event at @92Y with me, @tribelaw, @JeffreyToobin, and Elizabeth Holtzman.
I also addressed many of the questions at a wonderful event hosted by @RosenJeffrey at the @ConstitutionCtr.
Last but not least, please consider buying the book I wrote with @tribelaw. It offers context, historical perspective, and a range of perspectives on impeachment -- so that you can understand new developments with a critical eye. amazon.com/End-Presidency…
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