Irony? NYT Writers Talk of Removing ‘Grand Wizard’ Trump, Then Ask If Nasty Liberals Hurt Cause

February 20th, 2017 4:33 PM

Remove him from office or just call him a racist? That was the dilemma faced by two New York Times columnists this weekend. First, the prickly Charles Blow ventured into the Midwest to rant against Donald Trump at the Cleveland Public Library on Saturday afternoon, as part of its Cleveland Conversations series. Jason Ewinger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was there:

Charles M. Blow can communicate in many media, but on Saturday he used words, and he used them earnestly, bluntly, passionately and eloquently to register his disgust with the Trump presidency.

The widely read New York Times columnist called the president "a 70-year-old toddler," "pathological liar," "the Grand Wizard of birtherism against President Obama" and "a demi-fascist."

He said Trump has "assembled one of the least-educated cabinets in recent history," and his appointments are "agents of idiocracy."

Think that’s rough? Blow’s fellow columnist Nicholas Kristof Sunday Review was ready to dump Trump right out of office in “How Can We Get Rid of Trump?” The text box surely sent liberal hearts aflutter: “It’s not a fantasy to say there’s a simple (legal) way to replace the president.”

We’re just a month into the Trump presidency, and already so many are wondering: How can we end it?

One poll from Public Policy Polling found that as many Americans -- 46 percent -- favor impeachment of President Trump as oppose it. Ladbrokes, the betting website, offers even odds that Trump will resign or leave office through impeachment before his term ends.

Sky Bet, another site, is taking wagers on whether Trump will be out of office by July.

Kristof used citations from the liberal media (including disgraced CBS anchor Dan Rather) to indicate a supposed groundswell of support for impeachment.

There have been more than 1,000 references to “Watergate” in the news media in the last week, according to the Nexis archival site, with even some conservatives calling for Trump’s resignation or warning that he could be pushed out. Dan Rather, the former CBS News anchor who covered Watergate, says that Trump’s Russia scandal isn’t now at the level of Watergate but could become at least as big.


So let’s investigate: Is there any way out?

Trump still has significant political support, so the obstacles are gargantuan. But the cleanest and quickest way to remove a president involves Section 4 of the 25th Amendment and has never been attempted. It provides that the cabinet can, by a simple majority vote, strip the president of his powers and immediately hand power to the vice president. The catch is that the ousted president can object, and in that case Congress must approve the ouster by a two-thirds vote in each chamber, or the president regains office.

The 25th Amendment route is to be used when a president is “unable” to carry out his duties. I asked Laurence Tribe, the Harvard professor of constitutional law, whether that could mean not just physical incapacity, but also mental instability. Or, say, the taint of having secretly colluded with Russia to steal an election?

Tribe said that he believed Section 4 could be used in such a situation.

In the end Kristof disavowed his click-bait headline.

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My take is that unless things get much worse, removal may be a liberal fantasy. Progressives thought that Trump would never win the nomination or the election. He survived the “Access Hollywood” tape and countless crises that pundits thought would doom him, so it’s not clear why Republicans would desert him now that he’s president.


And what does it say about a presidency that, just one month into it, we’re already discussing whether it can be ended early?

What does it say about the Times as a newspaper that its columnists are so virulently anti-Trump?

After all that, one needs a palate cleanser -- a surprisingly perceptive look at the other side by national reporter Sabrina Tavernise, “Are Liberals Helping Trump?” (Virulent rhetoric from the likes of Kristof and Blow probably does.) Her piece is more detailed than the usual shallow and begrudging analysis of conservatives in the wild that the Times occasionally trots out. The anecdotes of liberal intolerance collected by Tavernise may sound awfully familiar to conservatives.

Jeffrey Medford, a small-business owner in South Carolina, voted reluctantly for Donald Trump. As a conservative, he felt the need to choose the Republican. But some things are making him feel uncomfortable -- parts of Mr. Trump’s travel ban, for example, and the recurring theme of his apparent affinity for Russia.

Mr. Medford should be a natural ally for liberals trying to convince the country that Mr. Trump was a bad choice. But it is not working out that way. Every time Mr. Medford dips into the political debate -- either with strangers on Facebook or friends in New York and Los Angeles — he comes away feeling battered by contempt and an attitude of moral superiority.

“We’re backed into a corner,” said Mr. Medford, 46, whose business teaches people to be filmmakers. “There are at least some things about Trump I find to be defensible. But they are saying: ‘Agree with us 100 percent or you are morally bankrupt. You’re an idiot if you support any part of Trump.’ ”

He added: “I didn’t choose a side. They put me on one.”

Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism -- the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed.

Protests and righteous indignation on social media and in Hollywood may seem to liberals to be about policy and persuasion. But moderate conservatives say they are having the opposite effect, chipping away at their middle ground and pushing them closer to Mr. Trump.

“The name calling from the left is crazy,” said Bryce Youngquist, 34, who works in sales for a tech start-up in Mountain View, Calif., a liberal enclave where admitting you voted for Mr. Trump is a little like saying in the 1950s that you were gay. “They are complaining that Trump calls people names, but they turned into some mean people.”


He came out a few days before the election. On election night, a friend posted on Facebook, “You are a disgusting human being.”