President Trump's behavior is getting worse.
We already knew Trump was vain and vulgar, a thin-skinned narcissist, the Dunning-Kruger effect made flesh. He may be the first president we've ever had with no discernible redeeming qualities, either as a politician or a human being. But impeachment is here, and Trump is finding new ways to demonstrate his sheer unfitness for office every few hours. The president's reaction to the impeachment process is proving once more why he should be removed from office — and fast.
Wednesday opened with the president's attempt to shoehorn the (unsuspecting) grieving parents of a British teenager into a reality show reconciliation with the woman who killed their son. It was the act of a man who can perceive the world — and human emotions — only through a show business lens. It was cruel. But 12 hours later, it was only the third or fourth most outrageous thing we'd learned about the president since sunrise.
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There were two other contenders for the No. 1 spot on the list. The first was Trump's reported White House meltdown with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whom he insulted and called a "third-grade politician" during a quickly abandoned meeting. That was probably superseded, though, by the unveiling of a bonkers October 9 letter in which he cajoled and threatened Turkey's president in an unsuccessful attempt to halt that country's invasion of Syria.
Meanwhile, in Syria, U.S. troops were leaving so quickly — thanks to the president's hasty withdrawal announcements — that they were bombing their own ammunition depot so that American ordnance wouldn't fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, a similar option isn't available to dispose of the 50 or so U.S. nuclear weapons still stored in Turkey.
That was the news from just one day. Trump was already a bad president and now his performance is in quick, observable decline. Can you imagine how much more quickly the misjudgments and lashings-out will pile up as impeachment draws ever nearer? The crisis is going to grow only more intense.
There is a kind of hostage-holding quality to Trump's behavior. He seems to be saying: You think things are bad now? I can make them much worse … if you make me. Which means the best approach to impeachment, now that the inquiry is under way, is to proceed with all deliberate haste. Let's get this thing over with, at long last.
Democrats — as is often the case — do not seem sure how to proceed. Politico reported Wednesday that party leaders are still trying to settle on a calendar for the impeachment process — an admittedly tough task, given that new evidence of the president's bad conduct seems to emerge every day.
"At some point you realize to get additional tranche of information that's going to take quite awhile, and then you make a decision: Do you wait that much longer or do you go with what we have?" said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), at least, favors the fast approach. He is reportedly expecting the impeachment trial to begin around Thanksgiving — this should be a great holiday season for families already prone to political bickering! — and finish up by the end of the year.
That schedule, however, gives House Democrats just five weeks to finish the inquiry and vote on impeachment. That sounds very fast, given that the inquiry itself was announced just a couple of weeks ago.
Then again, Trump's deteriorating behavior suggests a need for speed. And as Lieu told Politico, "My view is the most damning evidence basically already came out." It's going to hurt when we rip the Band-Aid off, one way or the other, so we might as well rip it off hard and fast. It won't be fun — and there is a chance an angry, vengeance-minded Trump will still be in office at the end of the process. But the fast approach might offer the best route to ending this awful era, and letting the national healing begin.
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