Trump Cannot Learn

President Donald Trump greets British Prime Minister Theresa May upon her arrival. Photo by The White House.

In February, 2020, Susan Collins spoke to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News about the first impeachment of then-President Trump. “I believe that the president has learned from this case. The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.” She later explained. “He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

The first article of impeachment in 2020 asserted that the President would remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if he remained in office. That prediction bore out over the following months, during which he continued to promote misinformation about COVID-19 (leading to an unnecessarily massive death toll among American citizens) and about vote fraud (inciting the insurrection which triggered the second impeachment.

The core question that lies at the heart of the second trial is why it is occurring in the first place. There are two answers, neither of which is going to be acceptable to his fans.

First, there is the simple value of preventing him from running again. This is embraced by Trump supporters as evidence of some secret vote tally indicating he actually won; if, after all, he truly lost, why would the Democrats be concerned about him re-entering the race? The answer is simple: eliminating possibilities. Trump lost, but he lost while telling people that he had a slew of imaginary successes and that he kept his promises. His great economy was illusory, but as it was a continuation of the policy of throwing unlimited cash at Wall Street his fans have a benchmark at which they can point. While he funded abortion with federal dollars, he claimed to be against it. While he embraced nationalism, he claimed to be a patriot. And although he was lying, there is an underlying truth: a huge quantity of Americans support the things he claimed to believe. The Democratic agenda is not popular with more than 50% of the country any more than the Republican agenda is. Democratic leaders recognize this fact and want to ensure that in the event of an economic downturn or blowback from one policy or another, Trump does not have a chance to leverage the delusion of his supporters and the ignorance of casual patriots to get back into the White House.

Second, and more basically, there is the rule of law. Finding Trump guilty would demonstrate that the rule of law and the Constitution actually matters in the United States. Trump’s supporters tend to believe they support the law, but they are antipathetic toward it at best. The same complaints levied against Clinton and the Democratic leadership in the 1990s hold true for Trump and the Republican leadership today. Instead of having a rabid rank and file create MoveOn to recraft Clinton’s tarnished reputation there is a violent and insane rank and file screaming about “Stop the Steal”. During the prior two impeachments there was a measure of political cover, though; people could claim that they were only willing to bypass accountability at great regret and personal pain because of the importance of keeping their leader in a position of power. There is no such excuse this time. Defending Trump over the law simply demonstrates an outright contempt for the American Constitution.

But this all brings us to the core of Susan Collins’ concern: is it even possible for Trump to learn? Could he see this second impeachment as not simply a rebuke, but as a trigger to change his behavior?

We have the evidence of the first impeachment… but we had more evidence before then, and it has been provided for public consumption by the BBC.

The British Broadcasting Corporation has produced a new series called Trump Takes on the World. In its press release for the show, an interview with the Chief of Staff for Theresa May, the Conservative leader of the UK during the first half of Trump’s tenure, is excerpted.

Her joint chief of staff, Fiona McLeod Hill, describes how the former prime minister reacted when Trump surprised her by holding her hand as they walked along the White House colonnade: “She felt she couldn’t really take her hand back so she was stuck with the hand in the hand. And the first thing she said was ‘I need to call Philip just to let him know that I’ve been holding hands with another man before it hits the media.'”


While Trump’s childish efforts at dominance were well documented (squeezing the knuckles of other world leaders during handshakes, pushing them aside to get better photo op positioning) this does not deserve to be granted similar status. This was Trump violating someone’s physical autonomy in a way that could endanger their relationships in an effort to get a momentary surge of personal pleasure.

Prior to his rise to the Presidency, Trump had made headlines with a candid recording about how he loved being famous. It included the now-famous phrase “Grab ’em by the pussy”, but it was more than that.

In the first part of that tape he described his impressions of marriage – not simply his own, but other people’s, a fact which continues to escape many of his fans. “I did try and fuck her. She was married.” “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.” “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there and she was married.” Then he goes on to describe the need to get breath mints in case he starts kissing someone without their permission. “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” There’s crosstalk in between his statements, because it’s part of a conversation, but the admissions of sexual misconduct are all his.

The BBC show demonstrates that his elevation to high office didn’t do anything to change his actions or his attitudes, it simply afforded him more targets for abuse.

There was no more damaging political moment for Trump prior to his election than the Access Hollywood tape, and he could not learn from it. He continued that trend after his impeachment. He lacks both the temperament and ability to comprehend his failings. It is not that he does not wish to learn things; it is that he cannot. The result of this second impeachment will demonstrate whether Republican Senators share that trait.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.