Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The mathematics of impeachment

Don't know much about history,
Don't know much biology …
Sam Cooke’s 1963 song, “Wonderful World,” must’ve been written about me. When it comes to biology, I don’t know a genus from a genome. And history – please! The Dark Ages slept through the Middle Ages as far as I can tell.
But I do know something about the history of Watergate. I lived through Woodward and Bernstein, Deep Throat, the White House tapes and all the other forces that helped bring down the 37th president of the United States, Richard Nixon.
And I can see that some of the same forces are starting to pile up like summer thunderheads, threatening the 45th president, Donald Trump.

Don't know much about algebra,
     Don't know what a slide rule is for …
Yeah, play it again, Sam.
K&E slide rule
College algebra is what finished off my career as a civil. engineer. Didn’t know an algebra factor from a John Deere tractor. All I have left of that sad time before I switched to an English major is my K&E slide rule, which now is a collector’s item.
But I don’t need a slide rule for the kind of equation I’ve been doing lately. It’s called Impeachment Math 101.
It takes a simple majority in the House of Representatives to impeach a president, and a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict – which throws him (or her) out of office, with no appeal.
The math is hard. Only two presidents have been impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, and both were acquitted in the Senate. Nixon, facing impeachment, resigned instead.
In Trump’s case, the math is tough. In the House, Republicans hold 240 of the 435 seats. Democrats hold 193, and two seats are vacant. A majority is 218, meaning Democrats would need 25 more votes to win an impeachment.
The Senate is much harder. Of the 100 seats in the Senate, the GOP holds 52, Democrats hold 46 and independents have two seats. To get the two-thirds needed, all the Democrats and independents would have to vote for conviction, plus 19 Republicans.
That mathematical problem is why no president has ever been thrown out of office by impeachment. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, though.

Don't know much about geography,
Don't know much trigonometry …
Me neither, Sam Cooke, me neither. But I know that Trump seems determined to wreck his own presidential train. To touch on just some of the highlights:
  • The firing of FBI Director James Comey, whose agency was investigating the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia during the 2016 presidential election;
  •        Comey’s memo telling how Trump asked him to drop the investigation of former national security advisor Mike Flynn’s dealing with Russian Ambassador  Sergey Kislyak; 
  •        The revelation that Trump revealed highly classified material to Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the day after he fired Comey. 
  •  And so on and so on. Thank you, New York Times,Washington Post and others, for your investigative journalism. Once again, you're helping to keep our democracy safe.
      And the constant drumbeat of bad news is having an effect. "We've seen this movie before,” said Sen.   John     McCain, R-Ariz. “It's reaching Watergate size and scale.” 
      For GOP congressional members up for re-election, 2018 is starting to look like a horror movie. Freddy
Krueger, AKA Donald Trump, is menacing their dreams.

No comments: