The Short Blade of Impeachment: Most Americans Skipped Hearings
Sequestered Arms for Ukraine bombs on the Boobtube
The Watergate hearings captured a huge TV audience — 80 percent of Americans tuned in, by some estimates. Like the Moon Landings, Watergate shaped the attitudes of Americans, young and old, for the rest of their lives. Not likely this time.
By comparison, Neilsen ratings show that 5 million fewer viewers than the final episode of The Big Bang Theory tuned in for the opening of the Trump Impeachment hearings. Barely a half million people in the 18-34 demographic watched the first day of Impeachment on TV. https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-releases/2019/nearly-13-8-million-vi...
Even by the standards of recent bombshell political hearings, Day One of Impeachment was a bust. The hearings had fewer television viewers, 13.8 million, than the James Comey, Brett Kavanaugh and Michael Cohen spectacles. CNN, MSNBC, the NYT and others in the MSM visibly struggled to explain why so few people bothered to watch. More than 70 percent of those who did tune in were over 55.
There are many sources of America's mass snoozy disinterest in the daytime entertainment broadcast of Trump's Impeachment. Is it coercion or bribery we're supposed to worry about? One major source of our disinterest is that the MSM never seems to grasp is the fact that Americans have little emotional investment in the cause given by Democrats for Impeachment: Donald Trump's delay in releasing funds for military assistance to Ukraine.
In pushing forward with the Impeachment fiasco, Congressional Democrats have ignored the most basic lesson of politics: Don't bring a knife to a gunfight. Rarely has so much been wagered on so shallow a peg as efforts to Impeach Trump for his efforts to sequester $310 million in lethal arms allocated by Congress to Ukraine. Most Americans probably didn't even know that we have been arming the regime in Kiev since 2015, much less care deeply one way or the other about whether the flow of antitank missiles and body counts (more than 10,000) continue.
As Congressional resolutions on war and peace go, this Impeachment is far more Presidential blow job (Bill Clinton, 1998), but without the sexual titilation, than Congressional resolution on the course of Reconstruction (Andrew Johnson, 1870). As historical drama, this isn't even a stained dress.
Polling has showed little support for intervention in Ukraine going back to when Kiev was still burning. A May, 2014 Pew poll found only 30 percent of U.S. respondents supported proposals to send arms to the Ukraine, whilst a mere 18% of Germans polled wanted NATO military aid for the Poroshenko regime that had taken control after the coup. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/05/01/in-germany-u-s-polls-fi...
A poll that followed a year later showed that the topic was deeply polarizing along partisan lines. In 2015, however, it was Democrats who overwhelmingly voiced skepticism about arming Ukraine while Republicans then viewed Russia as a threat and favored military aid to Kiev by a difference of 20 percent: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/15/republicans-and-democra...
As the Obama White House and its NATO allies discuss their responses to Russia’s activities in Ukraine, Washington faces its own internal divisions, some of which are being reflected in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign. Republicans and Democrats in the United States are strongly divided on the situation in Ukraine and what to do about it.
Members of both American political parties see Russia as a major military threat to neighboring countries, but to differing degrees, according to our latest survey.
Two-thirds of GOP members see Russia as a military threat, but only 56% of Democrats share their fear. And while half of Republicans say Russia is to blame for the violence in eastern Ukraine, just 39% of Democrats agree.
There is a similar partisan divide over what to do about the situation in Ukraine. Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to support military assistance. Six-in-ten Republicans voice support for NATO sending arms to the Ukrainian government compared with 39% of Democrats.
Curiously, while billions in military aid have been supplied by the U.S. and NATO, there has been little published polling since 2015 of western opinion of arms shipments to Ukraine. Only recently, when it became the causus belli for Impeachment after the Mueller Russiagate Inquiry fell apart, the subject has again come up. Washington elites don't really care what the little people think about their twilight wars that never end on the flanks of Russia.
Arms for Kiev is now inextricably linked to the question of Trump's Impeachment. A twofer, really, for the New Cold Warriors. If you are for Impeachment, the wording of polls now can be twisted to show you to be an advocate of arming Kiev. Take this question in a recent YouGov/Economist poll of October 26:
32. Impeachable Offense
If it is proven that Donald Trump purposefully withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to get the President of Ukraine to investigate allegations of corruption
against the Biden family, do you think that is an impeachable offense?
It is likely that Washington's arming of Kiev, that goes back to 2015, continues to be far more popular among Washington policy elites than it is in the country at large. Thus, when it comes down to the basic premise, this Impeachment effort remains on unsure footing while the chances of a real war with Russia continue to escalate.
Recent polling of Republicans on the issue reflect continues to show thin support for Impeachment among GOP voters. Only 15 percent of Republicans consider withholding military aid is an impeachable offense. Nate Silver's 538 summed it up this way: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/gop-voters-are-more-split-on-the-su...
An Economist/YouGov poll released this week fits this theory. The poll found that 14 percent of Republican adults think that Trump “purposefully” withheld military aid from Ukraine to force an investigation into the Bidens, and another 23 percent said that they are unsure. That means only 63 percent of Republican respondents took the completely pro-Trump stance that the president did not intentionally withhold the money. Similarly, 15 percent of Republicans think that if it’s proven that Trump withheld aid from the Ukrainians until they agreed to an investigation of the Bidens, that would constitute an impeachable offense. Another 20 percent say they aren’t sure.
But that poll also found that Republicans are basically unified in opposing Trump’s impeachment (81 percent) or his removal (83 percent). Similarly, Morning Consult/Politico poll released this week found that only 11 percent of Republicans think that Trump “abused his power to influence the 2020 election,” while 73 percent said he was “acting within his power.”
All this suggests a difficult path for Democrats to win over Republican voters on the subject of impeachment. Even if House lawmakers seize on some GOP voters’ disapproval of Trump’s conduct in the abstract, they must overcome voters’ strong loyalty to the president in selling impeachment.
The raw numbers of the same Economist/YouGov poll show, not surprisingly, that a vast majority of Democrats (80%) now see this as an Impeachable offense, while less than 40% of Independents think it is. https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/zgaz948hz...
Finally, a NPR/Marist poll of November 18th shows the futility of Impeachment hearings, if the purpose of House Democrats is to change the minds of Republicans, or anyone else, by a significant enough margin to sway GOP Senators to vote for Impeachment. https://www.npr.org/2019/11/19/780540637/poll-americans-overwhelmingly-s...
Half of Americans said they approve of the impeachment inquiry — about the same as the poll found last month. Respondents are also split on whether they think Trump should be impeached and removed from office.
But 65% of Americans say they can't imagine any information or circumstances during the impeachment inquiry where they might change their minds about their position on impeachment. And 30% say yes, it's possible.
These numbers reflect the unshakable partisan polarization that is America in the 21st Century. Put this all together, and we see the next stage of ossification into mass apathy and alienation that afflicts the politics of partially democratic permanent warfare states in decline.
Unless you're among the diminishing number of people who identify as registered Democratic voters, and are over 55 years of age, you probably don't give much of a damn, anymore, about Impeachment.