Douglas Brinkley is a fine historian. But sort of like children, historians should be read, not heard.
Brinkley said on CNN on Friday that once Trump is impeached, public support for him will disappear. Aside from a complete misreading of the mood of at least half the electorate, Brinkley shows he’s better at interpreting history than at predicting political outcomes.
“It just tells you what deep trouble Donald Trump is in. I mean, when you have 50 percent of the country wanting you not just impeached but removed from office, and the game hasn’t even gotten fast yet,” Brinkley said Friday morning on CNN, where he serves as a contributor.
“I think once the vote is taken by Congress to impeach him and he’s wearing the ‘I’ on his chest, you’re going to see that movement grow even more,” Brinkley predicted.
He added of Trump, “It tells you he doesn’t have a lot of friends. He’s a base politician. He doesn’t know how to turn this around.”
Half the public doesn’t believe Trump is guilty of anything. Does Brinkley think that Republican senators would help convict Trump without overwhelming public backing for kicking the president out of office?
As far as being a “base politician,” what does he think Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are? Joe Biden wants to run an old-fashioned campaign of trying to appeal to moderates and disaffected Republicans and has been bleeding support for months.
Brinkley’s problem is that he’s living in the past.
Brinkley noted the successful campaigns of politicians from opposing parties that came after previous presidents faced political fallout.
“I think the Democrats might want to look at the way Jimmy Carter pulled off victory in 1976. He took the high road. He ran on saying, I will never tell a lie to you,” Brinkley said. “He didn’t have to say Nixon’s lies or Lyndon Johnson’s lies, just that I am clean, good governance coming your way if you vote for me.”
To compare the politics of 1976 with the politics of 2020 is insane. Jimmy Carter’s “I will never tell a lie to you” pledge was given to a naive country that still believed in consensus politicians and politics. The overwhelming partisanship and cynicism of today’s voter make attacks on Trump’s honesty inevitable and effective.
Brinkley may have a sense of history, but he has no common sense at all.