Yesterday, two sacks of wet cement thudded on the Trump administration. Paul Manafort, erstwhile Trump campaign chairman, was convicted on 8 counts of of financial shenanigans, and Michael Cohen, erstwhile Trump attorney, pled guilty to a number of criminal charges, including campaign finance violations.

The Manafort convictions, for activities that preceded his tenure as Trump’s guy, aren’t in and of themselves a big problem for Trump, from what I can tell, but Cohen declared that he paid hush money to a couple women at Trump’s direction, in order to influence the election. That has the potential to be a real problem for the President.

How it plays out, as far as Mueller’s investigation and the balance of Trump’s tenure, remains to be seen. There are legal nuances involved that are beyond the analysis I can offer here and today, and, more importantly, there’s the political calculus that countless players will be computing in the next few months. How that unfolds will depend substantially on additional revelations as well as the broader political landscape of the months leading up to the mid-term elections. Interesting times, indeed.

While I don’t feel that I can make many prognostications with any degree of confidence, I will make two here today.

One – should the Democrats win a majority in the House in November, and barring a broad exculpatory declaration of Trump by Mueller, the Dems will initiate impeachment proceedings. After all, they’ve pretty much promised, if not in plain language, then certainly in hint, suggestion, and nod-wink, to do so in exchange for being given a victory. And, as a political friend suggested, they won’t be able to help themselves, no matter the strategic benefit or peril.

Two – and this will be a classic whataboutism, tu quoque, and/or tit-for-tat, Trump’s acolytes will invoke the Joy Behar Rule.

As regular readers may recall, the Joy Behar Rule is born of a declaration made by Ms. Behar, co-host of ABC’s The View, in favor of Bill Clinton. Ms. Behar excused Clinton’s bad behaviors because his policies aligned with her desires:

Chappaquiddick. I mean, a girl drowns and he abandons her and … women still voted for Teddy Kennedy. Why? Because he voted for women’s rights. That’s why. That’s bottom line of it in my opinion. I don’t like either one of them, to tell you the truth, Teddy or Bill. But, they’re both dogs, as far as I’m concerned. But I still will vote for Bill Clinton because he votes in my favor.

This will be the essence of the political defense of Trump against accusations of campaign finance improprieties. What the lawyers will do remains to be seen, but I expect that much of that will be lost in the noise.

Those who want to see some measure of decorum and moral adroitness restored to the political realm (I’ll wait for you to stop laughing at the idea of morally adroit politicians) will, properly, reject the Joy Behar rule as a defense of Trump. They will be in the minority. His supporters and his opposers will, ultimately, judge him not on the basis of campaign finance arcana, but rather on their political beliefs and positions. Zero-sum practicality, not principle. Yes, this is an indictment of hypocritical and unsavory behavior, but hypocrisy, while routinely derided, is far more the norm in politics than the exception. So, my primary intent here is explanatory. Since I have little expectation that there’ll be a sudden embrace of honest and non-partisan principle over us-vs-them tribalism, I won’t be shocked in the least by continued partisan behavior.

Expect a full invocation of the Joy Behar Rule in defense of Trump against the Cohen revelations. Expect concurrent fear-mongering about what a Pelosi-led Congress, a President Warren, and a passel of Ocasio-Cortezes will do to the nation should they be given the reins. Expect a full-throated dismissal of Trump’s sins as venal, not mortal, and a (possibly accurate, possibly revisionist) declaration that “we knew who he was when we elected him.”

You heard it here first.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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