Facebook Twitter Comments Slate Plus

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Maybe Trump Doesn’t Have Great "Political Instincts" as Much as America Has Bad President Instincts

Donald Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions on Dec. 15, 2017 in Quantico, Virginia at the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony.
Donald Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions on Dec. 15, 2017 in Quantico, Virginia at the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Towards the end of a Thursday Washington Post report about how Donald Trump communicates his intentions to the Department of Justice via Twitter because he refuses to speak to attorney general Jeff Sessions, there’s an embarrassing/emasculating quote:

One department official … said that, despite the president’s criticism, Sessions still “really, really believes in the president” and remains “almost in awe of the president’s political instincts.”

Sessions is not nearly the only person who’s made this claim:

• Former vice president Dan Quayle said Trump has “got good political instincts” when he explained in May 2016, when other establishment Republicans were still holding out, why he was endorsing the soon-to-be-nominee.

• #NeverTrump conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer praised Trump’s “remarkable political instincts” after he defeated Hillary Clinton in the election.

• Trump’s campaign was an achievement of “perserverance” and “very strong political instincts,” Bernie Sanders said shortly before inauguration.

• “I think he’s got some of the best political instincts in the world, perhaps in history,” said short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci of his boss during one of Scaramucci’s few appearances on the job last year.

What I think these people are trying to say—especially given that they include a reluctant endorser, a leftist senator, a critical columnist, and an ostensible ally who Trump has been treating badly for the better part of a year—is “I still really have no idea how this guy won a presidential primary and general election, but there must be something to it.” On that note, here’s what the White House is saying about Trump describing Africa and Haiti as “shithole[s]” in a meeting with members of Congress:

In other contexts, “political instincts” might refer to someone’s ability to navigate a scandal, push through a risky but ultimately popular bill, or find an incumbent’s weakness. With Trump, it just means that he says asshole things because he recognizes that we’re a country of assholes.

Today’s meter is staying at 50 percent despite the “shithole” controversy because, you know, he did win the election.

Today's Impeach-O-Meter: 50 percent.

One more thing

You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.

Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.

Join Slate Plus