The symbol of Donald Trump’s defiant attitude and undignified threats in the face of impeachment proceedings is presently a tweet in which he quoted conservative Evangelical leader (and huge Trump ally) Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, to the effect that we’d experience violence if the godless socialistic Democrats get their way:
The tweet led at least one Republican congressman to rebuke the president for fomenting insurrection by quoting Jeffress:
I think the idea that Trump is recklessly repeating careless words from a Bible-thumping extremist misses some underlying issues here.
When Nancy Pelosi rather abruptly climbed aboard the Impeachment Express last week, Trump’s natural instinct would have been to make damn sure his Republican and conservative flanks were covered, ensuring that impeachment would be perceived as a partisan exercise by the Democratic House that would quickly die in the Republican Senate. Where might he fear defections? Definitely from Never Trump Republicans; but they have far fewer troops in Congress than in op-ed columns. Next in line as possible apostates in this particular situation would be the Christian right. Why? Because removal of Trump from office would elevate their favorite pol and Trump-whisperer, Mike Pence, and give the Christian right a lengthy and stable hold on power (if elevated by Trump’s removal from office, Pence could run as an incumbent not only in 2020 but in 2024). And after all, for all of his faithful execution of his transactional relationship with these folks since his election as president, Trump remains a man whom Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore accurately described as someone with a “Bronze Age warlord’s” attitude toward women and no credible evidence of belief in the gospel of the Prince of Peace.
So in going nuts over the impeachment proceedings, the president may have implicitly signaled that he needs a fresh bending of the knee from the constituency that was so critical to his election and reelection — but that also has the most to gain from Trump’s removal from office. That’s what Jeffress supplied.
In their hearts, there’s not much doubt that conservative Evangelical leaders would be happy and relieved if Trump could be removed from office without the Republican Party losing control of the White House — particularly if the new inhabitant of said house was their lil’ darling. But the paranoid POTUS knows that, which is almost certainly why he’s eagerly accepting protestations like the one offered by Jeffress. Before long, every conservative opinion leader in America will be expected to pledge unconditional allegiance to the caudillo of Mar-a-Lago. The more suspect they are, the louder their protestations of loyalty will be. Even if it requires a choosing of sides in a hypothetical civil war.