My personal favorite Latin saying is “alea iacta est.”
That’s what Julius Caesar is purported to have said when his armies crossed the Rubicon river in 49 B.C. (The only living witness to this is Larry King, so we have to take his word for it.) Translation: “The die is cast.”
Caesar, who was then in the midst of fighting the Roman Civil War, had taken his armies beyond what was then the northern boundary of Italy in defiance of the Roman Senate.
At that point, he knew he’d reached the point of no return.
This is where “crossing the Rubicon” comes from, as well, but there’s no better way to wax pseudo-intellectually than to use Latin phraseology in place of an English idiom.
Plus, it’s not like anyone knows where the Rubicon is, anyway.
We have a different caliber of officials than ol’ Julius these days, which is a bit of a good news/bad news situation.
The good news, at least in our country, is that they’re elected — unlike Caesar, whose ejection from office was a bit less orderly than if it had happened at the ballot box.
The bad news is that they don’t quite know when to cast the die.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her House Democratic caucus, for instance, had an “alea iacta est” moment a few weeks ago.
They, like everyone else in the country, were no doubt aware of how polling was trending when it came to the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump.
According to the RealClearPolitics average, since mid-December, a plurality of Americans have been against it or the polling average has been a tie.
This is as opposed to the high-water mark of mid-October, when 49.5 percent were for removing Trump from office compared to 44.8 percent against it.
In December, the Democrats threw the die for the first time.
This involved the impeachment vote against Trump, which coincided almost precisely with the moment the polling average began turning against the Democrats.
One could say the die had been cast long before the vote had been taken; the impeachment inquiry, like an ocean liner at full steam toward a predetermined destination, is a tricky and unwieldy thing to turn in an instant.
They were no closer to removing him, but they’d rolled the dice and taken their chances. And the polling average continued to turn against them.
Since then, they’ve cast the die again, this time in terms of their messaging in the run-up to the trial.
Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold the Senate trial that Democrats would have preferred — which is to say, messy and protracted, with privileges and protections afforded to Democrats in the Senate that Democrats would have never dreamed of extending to Republicans in the House — Pelosi decided to sit on the articles and only handed them to the Senate last Wednesday.
Even then, the Democrats made sure to let America know how solemn and somber an occasion the delivery of the articles was — I mean, if you discount the signing ceremony with those nifty pens.
Now that most Senate Republicans have made it clear they don’t support allowing new witnesses to be called — that should have been the House’s job, not the Senate’s — Democrats are predictably livid.
“He doesn’t want to hear any of the evidence and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said of McConnell, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. “That’s a cover-up, not a trial.” (This petulance, presumably, will last throughout the trial, however long it goes.)
How’s that party line holding up? A newly released poll from Gallup of 1,014 U.S. adults surveyed between Jan. 2 and Jan. 15 — as much of this messaging was taking form — shows that if it’s having an effect, it’s not an observable one.
“Forty-six percent of Americans say they would like their senators to vote to convict Trump and remove him from office, while 51% want their senators to vote against conviction so Trump will remain as president,” a statement from Gallup, released along with the poll on Monday, read.
“Like his approval rating, Trump’s impeachment figures are also sharply divided along partisan lines. Ninety-three percent of Republicans are opposed to convicting Trump and 84% of Democrats favor doing so. Independents are evenly divided, with 49% in favor and 46% opposed.”
The poll’s margin of error was plus-or minus-4 percentage points. These numbers are, like the larger polling average, flipped from last autumn.
In October, a Gallup poll found that 52 percent of respondents favored Trump’s impeachment and removal compared to 46 percent who were opposed.
So maybe the American public isn’t in favor of impeaching and removing the president, but perhaps this whole controversy is souring conservatives and independents on Trump?
Again, not so much.
“As the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins, 44% of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president. Trump’s approval rating has been steady in the past three polls — between 43% and 45% — slightly above the 39% to 41% ratings he received as the impeachment inquiry started in the fall,” Gallup’s Monday release read.
“Trump’s recent job approval ratings — though below the historical average 53% for post-World War II presidents — are among the highest of his presidency. His personal best is 46%, while he has averaged 40% job approval for his entire term.”
One poll taken in isolation isn’t much of a big thing unless you take into account this is how things have been trending, more or less.
The RealClearPolitics average has Trump’s job approval at 44.2 percent, essentially the same as Gallup poll.
It also shows the same trend: His approval hit a low in October and has since rebounded. The events of the last two months have changed little. The die has been cast multiple times and the Rubicon has been crossed.
There were plenty of times the Democrats could have turned back. But, even staring down poll numbers that should have disabused them of any desire to go the way of impeachment, they marched on unabated.
At least Caesar became the dictator of the Roman Republic for his trouble.
[From an article by C. Douglas Golden, published in the WESTERN JOURNAL]
As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis