Trump on a strong wicket

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The first act in the Donald Trump impeachment drama ended Friday and it coincided with the latest US jobs data. Trump’s fortunes may be at a low ebb but the US jobs market is on fire with unemployment at a 50-year low of 3.5 per cent. Which will have a greater impact on Trump’s re-election prospects?

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the jobs data. Still, for high drama, the data could hardly match the impeachment proceedings in the House Judiciary Committee. Even the legal scholars, who talked drily about the meaning of impeachment stretching back to the age of over-mighty sovereigns, lent extra political intensity. That was before Nancy Pelosi, deeply conscious of her moment in history, stepped up to the podium to say she would be instructing the Judiciary Committee to draw up articles of impeachment. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will vote on impeachment, probably by year-end. From there, the proceedings will head to the Republican-held Senate.

Impeachment needs a two-thirds majority and there are 53 Republican Senators in the 100-member Senate who are expected to put party over patriotism and support Trump in any vote. In other words, there looks to be a snowball’s chance in hell that Trump will be impeached. Trump famously boasted in 2016 that, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Once the impeachment proceedings are under way, it will quickly become clear whether his supporters are still willing to back him even if he committed an impeachable offence by demanding Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky dig for dirt on Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden’s son in exchange for arms shipments for his country which is fighting Russia. Many Democrats worry the impeachment proceedings could create a sympathy wave for Trump.

What’s certain is the Democratic candidates who’ve emerged so far don’t look capable of toppling a president who has tapped into a deep vein of resentment in Middle America even while he demonstrates every day — in little and big ways — his unfitness to be the President of the United States.

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