The Slatest

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Did Charlottesville Change Anything?

Donald Trump at the White House on Aug. 23.

Chris Kleponis/Pool/Getty Images

In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

It’s still boggling my brain and mind that so many elected Republicans and conservative-leaning business leaders denounced (or implicitly denounced, via their own pointed condemnations of white supremacists) Donald Trump’s reaction to events in Charlottesville, Virginia. After all, Trump’s connections to the alt-right white supremacist movement were already very public. His claim that “many sides” were to blame for violence in Virginia was just a new twist on the familiar right-wing assertion that Black Lives Matter–style “identity politics” activists promote extremism and hatred. Republicans have been defending and promoting Confederate iconography for years. And as Nate Silver explains at FiveThirtyEight, the controversy over Trump and Charlottesville doesn’t appear to have convinced any actual voters to change their minds about POTUS. Why was this incident—and, not say, hiring Steve Bannon—so upsetting to so many powerful figures?

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The best explanation may have been given by my colleague Michelle Goldberg in her piece on the khaki-clad, Tiki torch–carrying mass of College Republican types captured in several instantly iconic Charlottesville photographs:

The frog-in-the-pot metaphor is overused in the Trump era, but for good reason. No matter how much we keep reminding ourselves that this is not normal, we can’t help but acclimate to the new atmosphere. It’s become boring to point out for the millionth time that we’re being ruled by a crackpot racist and a handful of vindictive 4chan fascists. But in Charlottesville, the temperature went up a little too quickly. Suddenly Democrats and Republicans alike looked around and realized that the country is boiling.

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The almost cartoonishly ugly images of torches and Confederate flags and street violence taken in Charlottesville were apparently just too explicit—too boiling hot, in Goldberg’s metaphor—to ignore, and it’s perhaps heartening to find out that there is still a line that can be crossed in the ol’ public discourse. But then again, it doesn’t really matter what CEOs and senators think as long as the polls continue to show that conservatives who aggressively reject racism don’t actually have a constituency left among actual American voters, does it?

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

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