Donald Trump studied at the Edgar Rice Burroughs School of Law, under Prof. Roy Cohn, among others. The law of the jungle is not the same law—elaborate, pettifogging, civilizing—that constrains the elites. Who is to say that the Burroughs School of Law is wrong in its approach to a world that is dangerous, uncertain and unjust? It turned young Lord Greystoke into Tarzan and Mr. Trump into the 45th president of the United States.
It will be a good idea for Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and others who seek the president’s impeachment to remember that they have begun a journey into the jungle. Only 13 months before Election Day, they have chosen to superimpose the melodrama of impeachment on a presidential campaign in a nation deeply divided along a thousand political and moral and cultural fault lines. They have precipitated a crisis long in the making. It may prove a daring and successful stroke—as they see things, a vindication of the rule of law and of their own superior civilization. Or it may help re-elect the man they seek to dethrone.
Public opinion will determine the outcome, and it is sometimes perverse in the way it reads the law. If you doubt it, google “O.J. Simpson jury nullification.” Public opinion may support Mr. Trump, regardless of evidence. Or it may not.
The Constitution offers no explanation of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The words intend to signal an abuse of the public trust. But what does that mean when there is so little trust to abuse—so little faith in politicians, in government or in the media? When abuse is endemic, trust withers and dies.
In the absence of popular faith in 21st-century American civilization and its institutions—or in the virtue of the country’s history, Lincoln’s “mystic chords of memory”—millions default to the Edgar Rice Burroughs model, a certain primitive warlord civics. In the jungle, old norms mean nothing. They may even be despised.