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Bruce Lohof

BRUCE LOHOF

Thirty-three months an incumbent, Donald Trump is watching his presidency collapse. Impeachment is front-page news. A recent Fox News poll reported that 51 percent of American voters are in favor of “impeachment and removal from office.” Talk of “President Pence” appears here and there in the media landscape. To the great pleasure of many – and the great consternation of some – 45’s days in the White House may be numbered.

Voters in Big Sky Country watch Montana’s Republicans in Washington, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte, hold the party line. In September Daines tweeted contemptuously about an “Impeachment Obsession,” and more recently Gianforte told Yellowstone Public Radio that impeachment talk is “misplaced” because “there’s so much stuff we could be working on.” Beyond party obeisance, however, they must be reading the tea leaves and wondering if it’s time to invoke Plan B.

What have Daines and Gianforte long known about Trump? That he’s an indecent human being. That he’s a serial adulterer and, by his own admission, an occasional pussy-grabber. He lies compulsively. (Since moving into the White House he’s told thousands of fibs to his fellow Americans.) He cheats. (Though they support him politically, neither Daines nor Gianforte would be caught dead working as a Trump enterprise subcontractor). He’s vulgar. (Ask any of his Twitter followers.)

Montana is the sum of its communities. None of these communities would recognize Trump as a good neighbor.

What have they learned in the months of his presidency? That he’s been bad for Montana. They learned that his promise to replace Affordable Care Act with “something terrific” would have left 142,000 fewer Montanans with health coverage. That his trade wars (“… good, and easy to win”) threatened trade relations with Montana’s major trading partners, Canada (No. 1) and China (No. 3). That the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” – what the New York Times called “A Historic Tax Heist” – saved the average Montanan somewhere between zero and $788 per year while significantly aggravating income inequality in the state and beyond. In 2018, while stumping against Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester, Vice President Pence was headlined, “Our agenda is working for Montana.” Not true.

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What are they learning now? That his foreign policy is a rickety and dangerous shamble. They’ve long watched him berate the EU and NATO, two stalwarts of stability in Europe. They’ve watched him rubbish a working accord with Iran and take America AWOL in the world’s confrontation with climate change. They’ve watched him frustrate our alliances and praise the world’s dictators. Now, in the Middle East, they’re watching his perfect trifecta unfold:

  • He greenlights Turkey’s invasion of territory liberated from ISIS by Kurds.
  • Kurds, betrayed by Trump, ally themselves with America’s enemy Syria.
  • Syira is already allied with America’s oldest living nemesis, Russia.
  • As a bonus, the Kurds’ rush to protection gives ISIS a get-out-of-jail pass. Trump has often said: “My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.” This time his gut has told him how to foment genuine disaster in the Middle East.

Hence the need for Plan B. Daines and Gianforte – indeed, the Republican party itself – has always feared that its affair with Trump would become Faustian. Which it has. Is there a Plan B that would rid the party of this pest and begin its healing return to the decency and prudence for which it was once known? Is Impeachment that plan?

Is it time for Daines and Gianforte to have their road-to-Damascus moment, to see the light and to follow it? Trump recently said that “Foreign policy is what I’ll be remembered for.” So true. Please, gentlemen. Don’t be remembered with him.

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Montana native Bruce A. Lohof is a former professor and a retired diplomat. He lives in Red Lodge and Vienna Austria.

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Opinion Editor

Opinion editor for The Billings Gazette.