The president has not been in office for a year, and already there is talk of impeachment. He is a man of means, in his seventies, and accustomed to getting his way. He seems genuinely confused by the situation.
He came into office after seeing off a corrupt and venal woman — one he had once supported — promising a new beginning, a restoration, an act of national salvation in which the good of the people was finally to be given precedence over the desires of the elites.
Immediately, there was trouble. There were relationships — and payments — that didn't look quite right, and a hostile press gleefully digging into them. High government officials came forward with claims that the president had pressured them to do favors for political allies. The words "obstruction of justice" began to be spoken with some anger. There was talk of covertly recorded conversations, and federal authorities sought documents that might or might not establish presidential wrongdoing.
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Congratulations, America: You have at last, after all these years, transformed yourself into Brazil.
Nobody outside of Latin America cares very much about the prospects of Brazil's President Michel Temer being impeached, though his situation at the moment does bear more than a few parallels to that of the American president. The Brazilian president before him, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached, too. That sort of thing happens in countries such as Brazil, which achieve short-lived periods of stability and prosperity and suddenly turn astray for no obvious reason.
But the United States is not that kind of country.
Or at least it wasn't, until recently.
The situation in the United States is this: The Republican party chose as its nominee an inept and obviously unfit candidate, and the American electorate chose that candidate over Hillary Rodham Clinton, an inept, corrupt, and obviously unfit candidate. Mrs. Clinton was by 2016 a familiar figure, one who was, as P. J. O'Rourke put it, "wrong about absolutely everything, but wrong within normal parameters." The fundamental tension of the moment is between Trump's unfitness for the office and the fact that he was — and no amount of wailing about the Kremlin will change this — legitimately elected.