He delights in the abuse of his power

Quinta Jurecic on why Trump has to be impeached:

Here are the facts: The president is unsuited to his office. That should have been obvious well before the release of the special counsel’s report, but the text of the report, even with a smattering of redactions, makes his unfitness brutally clear. He shows no understanding of the responsibilities of the presidency. He delights in the abuse of his power. As Memorial Day approaches, he is reportedly planning to celebrate the holiday by pardoning, among other service members accused of war crimes, a Navy SEAL scheduled to stand trial for the murder of multiple unarmed Iraqi civilians.

Because hooray for murdering unarmed civilians in foreign countries; that’s what we stand for now. My Lai? Our finest hour.

Jurecic notes that Pelosi opposes impeachment for pragmatic reasons: because it will energize his base.

This is a very practical argument. But there is value to an impeachment inquiry—and to impeachment—as an act in itself, regardless of whether the Senate will convict or what the president’s supporters will think.

Pelosi and the more hardheaded Democratic strategists regard this position as overly idealistic. That’s the point.

Trump is absurd in the colloquial sense, she goes on, but also in the philosophical sense.

What better to emphasize the gap between the desire for the Constitution to mean something and the reality of the document as some words on paper than the scene of Donald J. Trump swearing an oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”?

The Constitution is what Camus would call a “closed universe”—a space of “coherence and unity” in an incoherent world, in which words carry weight and actions have consequences. Trump’s disrespect for the law is a reminder of how fragile that structure of meaning can be. For that reason, there is a real service in using impeachment proceedings to push back against the notion that, in the parlance of the internet, “lol nothing matters.”

Susan Hennessey and I have argued that the House of Representatives has a duty to begin an impeachment inquiry insofar as representatives swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution” and to “well and faithfully” execute the duties of their office. Another way of saying this is that an impeachment inquiry depends on an insistence that this oath really means something—and that the president’s oath means something as well. Keith Whittington, likewise, has written that impeachment is partially a matter of “norm creation and norm reinforcement.” And Yoni Appelbaum argued that the impeachment of Andrew Johnson “drew the United States closer to living up to its ideals.”

Let’s have a little norm reinforcement around here.

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