Restraint is a conservative value. It's also a tremendous tool in strategy and planning. And it's exactly the thing that partisans seem to have in short supply.
In the days leading up to the three hour testimony of former FBI director, James Comey, speculation and anticipation mounted. CNN had an actual countdown clock. Twitter was on fire. But I had some words of caution for those expecting a courtroom drama that ended with Donald Trump being taken away in impeachment handcuffs: Lower your expectations.
It's fascinating watching everyone stake out their positions the night before testimony. Each declaring vindication.— Ben (@BenHowe) June 8, 2017
It hasn't started.
Few listened of course. Each side preemptively declared victory after Comey released his opening statement on Wednesday and then, following the hearing, declared victory again. Opinions vary on what conclusion can actually be drawn, but to me it's obvious.
Everyone is stupid.
The Democrats are stupid because they’ve spent the last several months firing their entire arsenal at every Trump ice cream cone and declaring the scoops to have been ordered by the Kremlin. I have my own opinions on Russia’s love of all things Trump (and vice versa), but tend to treat them as speculative opinions. I don't pronounce him a Russian spy or declare that Vladmir Putin is controlling Trump via voice command through a surreptitious earpiece. Though believe me, some people do.
It’s not that I think accusations of collusion or involvement are without merit. Certainly there's a lot of smoke - a ton of smoke - for there to be no fire at all. But it's just common sense to keep powder relatively dry as the facts unfold. In the meantime, I focus on what we know based on evidence: Trump is a moronic, childish, buffoon who is in over his head and has a dangerous tendency to listen to no one except his own gigantic gut.
If evidence of legitimate, genuine Russian collusion had come out, I'd be shouting “impeach!” from the mountaintops. But when you shout “impeach!” from the mountaintops before the evidence is in, you set yourself up for two things: 1) Potentially eating crow when the evidence doesn’t cooperate with your presumption or 2) Undermining other important stories because you went straight for the top shelf and now no one remembers that there was a baseline expectation.
That baseline expectation being the moronic, childish, buffoonish behavior that we’ve all come to know and disdain from President Trump.
The revelations of Comey’s testimony are primarily not, in fact, revelations. But they were confirmations. Confirmations that Donald Trump is exactly as inadequate at his job as we believed he would be. Confirmation that sometimes his buffoonery rubs elbows with illegality, or at least breathes the same air. Confirmations of all the things that detractors such as myself claimed would be the downfall of his presidency.
But thanks to the so-called “resistance”, and the incessant need of every single action by Trump to be analyzed as Russian code, the whole “he's an idiot” thing is treated more like a known known that no one really cares about. The given quantity.
The underpinning of this hearing was “Well, we all already know he’s an idiot, but did he do anything illegal?”
When the current answer to that question is “no”, and you've made "yes" your hill to die on, it's pretty nearly impossible to pick your marker back up and hedge to "well he's still an idiot who screwed up." Who will listen? Or care?
For any president in recent memory, this testimony would have been disastrous. It shows incompetence and bad character. It shows him as being petty, untrustworthy, and not overly concerned with ethical behavior. But instead of that being the story, and a big one, this is already met with a yawn by a public and even press that already knows he’s an unscrupulous liar and were busy salivating about treason or spying or other fanciful hopes that were pinned on Comey's testimony.
So way to go, organized “resistance” fighters: barring any new information from the current ongoing investigations, you've de-toothed your entire effort.
Restraint. Look into it.
It’s not all bad news for Democrats, however. Luckily for them, their opposition is the stupidest party in the history of the Stupid Party.
The suffering Republicans will endure is farther in the future but obvious and easy to see coming. They aren’t even denying Trump is a pompous, lying, windbag who is so far out of his depth that being in his cabinet has all the hallmarks of parenting a toddler. A rich toddler who can declare you an enemy combatant.
Sure, some Republicans like Chris Christie have tried to build bridges with the collapsing infrastructure of White House credibility by saying Trump is an outsider dealing with a steep learning curve. But no one believes that. No one.
I’ve yet to speak to one Trump supporter that believes he’s not a habitual liar. The best response is usually “Well he’s not the first lying politician.”
They KNOW he’s a liar. But you know… Hillary.
So how does the party think that will play in 2018? Or 2020? I hate to say I told you so, but what I have been shouting from the mountaintop since he first threw his hat in the ring is that Donald Trump as president will deliver on short-term wants at the cost of long term needs.
He’s making the party so toxic and unpalatable to the public that at this rate, we’ll be lucky to have Republican representation at all in the coming elections and years, much less conservative representation.
And the GOP response to that? “GOOD!” They love it. They think it’s high time someone didn’t give two craps what the polls say.
“THEY WERE WRONG LAST ELECTION!”
True. They were wrong. But what they were wrong about, and what they were right about, should be a warning to Republicans. A warning they won’t heed.
The polls were wrong about a lot of the votes on the edges of some key states which ultimately flipped the electoral college in Donald Trump’s favor. What they were RIGHT about, was that Hillary Clinton was ahead in national popular vote by about 3 million votes.
And this was when Donald Trump was measurably more popular than he is right now.
Given these facts, what will alter the course? Certainly not Donald Trump. If you don’t know by now that this man doesn’t change, I can’t help you.
You can point to Neil Gorsuch all you want, but in the end, the Republican party is still propping up a buffoon who can’t even exert enough self control to avoid making threats using verifiably false information. Who can’t survive an intel meeting with a foreign adversary without leaking classified information that another country was kind enough to give us. Who doesn’t know how to talk to the Director of the FBI about an investigation without accidentally potentially obstructing justice.
If in two years the best response to all of that is “but Gorshuch!” then, my friends, the #NeverTrump you mock as being on the wrong side of history will be writing your epitaph.
This column originally appeared at RedState.com.