Susan Estrich: Could the Trump haters quiet down?
Susan Estrich: It could not be trickier. The Trump hating and the almost-certain-to-fail Senate impeachment vote may end up doing more to help Trump than hurt him.
I disagree with almost everything President Donald Trump has done. I cringe at the disrespect he has shown to his own office. He has degraded the presidency, driven us apart, lied enough to make anything Joe Biden has ever said trivial by comparison, cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin and contradicted his own intelligence services, even as he was attacking NATO. Oh, yes, and the Ukraine thing.
I also think he is a master of modern communications — a master at stirring up his base by calling on his crowds to "lock her up" —which is not, by any means, a compliment but a recognition of reality.
Trump attacks Hillary and Joe and Nancy and Congress and, best of all, the media. He's the attack king. Except — at least as I recall —he hasn't yet called me a terrible human being.
Ever since Hillary Clinton termed Trump supporters "deplorables," the Trump haters have seemed to heap contempt not only on the man but also on anyone who supports him. Which might be justified if it weren't 45% of the population, according to most polls. And Trump is one of those candidates who "underpolls" — in this climate, it's much easier to give the politically correct answer than the less popular but honest one (to be clear, I'm not against a woman candidate; in fact, I'm for her).
So why are we driving these folks away? Why call them names that suggest they are not only wrong but also utterly beyond the pale? Really? Half of America?
I have no doubt that the Democratic dirt diggers are working 24/7 to come up with new dirt on the most investigated, talked about and reported-on man in the world. Good luck to them. Like him or hate him, most of us know more about Trump's strengths and weaknesses than we do about any candidates on the other side.
It's the Democrat — whoever that might turn out to be -- whom the Republicans will attempt to paint as the biggest danger to America in decades. Which isn't that hard, since, given the stakes, it is enough to underscore just how little you know about the Democrat as well as what an unacceptable risk he or she poses.
The Democrats are not going to win this election by screaming to everyone within hearing distance about how much they hate Trump or how wrong he was to ask Ukraine for a favor he didn't get. I'm not condoning any of that. It's just that he is the devil we know. In order for the election to be a referendum on Trump, the Democrat has to emerge as a safe choice, not an unknown but potentially significant risk. The devil you know beats the one you fear more. If Democrats don't spend more time defining themselves than attacking Trump, they are likely to end up as the devil you don't know — and maybe even the riskier (if you believe the billions of ads you'll see) than the one you do.
Impeachment, much as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had no choice by the end, was never the favored strategy of the top strategist in the party. She realized the risk of turning Trump into a martyr while Democrats were blamed and their nominee remained both an open question and a risk. And that risk seems to be growing.
It could not be trickier. The Trump hating and the almost-certain-to-fail Senate impeachment vote may end up doing more to help Trump than hurt him.
Susan Estrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.