Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The President’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Change Accords had three dimensions to the decision. First, Trump responded to Neanderthal scientists who actually do not believe in global warming. Second, as with manufacturing dresses in South Carolina or steel in Ohio, the coal mines in West Virginia are not re-opening. Trump’s appeal to his base is delusional and the economic consequences of pulling out of the accord will not be economically favorable. All that this decision did was to underscore Trump’s continuing belief that he can bully the world like he did clients, suppliers, banks, and adversaries in the real estate world. To offer to renegotiate a treaty which 195 countries already signed was even crazier than Senator Lodge telling President Wilson to renegotiate the League of Nations Charter.
French President Emmanuel Macron put Trump to further shame by addressing him and the American people in English in a last ditch attempt to convince America to remain in the Accords. While losing his fight Macron may have shown Trump and the world—especially if he receives strong electoral support in the French Parliamentary elections beginning on June 11—that he, presumably with Angela Merkel, is ready to provide the international leadership which the U.S. has abdicated. With respect specifically to the Paris Accords, they will be actively joined by the Chinese who once again will be laughing at the U.S.
Prime Minister Theresa May is not in the above circle of leaders as she has plenty of domestic challenges ahead of her as she faces national elections on June 8. The most recent polls still suggest the Conservative Party is still leading although the margins have become slimmer. Two observations about the British election must be recognized. First, polls in Britain have a long history of being wrong. The reasons are complex-including the fact that the English think of themselves as exceedingly private. Accurate predictions by English pollsters, while hopefully refined after the BREXIT fiasco, are historically suspect. Second, the shift or drop in the polls came late enough to help Labour. Voters still will be able to digest the polls, change their minds, and could well cause the vote to be even more challenging for the Tories.
Congress will return from its Memorial Day recess next week with a stretch of five weeks during which the country will discover whether the Trump Administration and the GOP controlled Congress can do more than get embroiled in political mud fights. The Senate will need to start working in the open on their version of healthcare or else there probably will not be any action in this Congress. Second, the Congress will need to begin the process of drafting their long awaited tax reduction and simplification plan. While Speaker Ryan’s fight to “repeal and replace” Obamacare was itself formidable, moving forward on tax reform–which is Ryan’s true love–is likely to produce even more internecine fighting among House Republicans. Finally by the fall, Congress must raise the debt ceiling or the U.S. will default on its loans. Congress could proceed at any time but the Republican factions are fighting among themselves as to what they want included in the bill to raise the debt ceiling.
Those in Washington who have begun speaking about the possibility of impeachment need to take a few deep breathes. Assuming there were grounds established, the Republican controlled House would need to impeach and two-thirds of the Republican controlled Senate would need to be prepared to convict; something that at present is totally fanciful. What Democrats ought to do is ensure that they work diligently to retake at least the House in 2018. If impeachment proceedings are then desired they could commence in 2019. Impeachment conviction even then would require a true smoking gun.