The impeachment nightmare that House Democrats are so eagerly plunging the country into now is merely another outbreak of that party’s inability to accept the voters’ verdict of 2016.
Donald Trump’s unlikely victory was so shocking for Hillary Clinton and her lazy, overconfident campaign team and supporters that she was emotionally unable to compose herself for a concession speech until the next day.
Which suggests to many that voters made the correct choice for commander in chief, even if they have real doubts about Trump.
Clinton and her crowd have never recovered. Even before Trump took the oath and could perform an actual high crime or misdemeanor in office, an impeachment campaign was underway.
Now, billionaire Tom Steyer and noisy segments of that Democratic caucus have finally succeeded in forcing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch the preliminary impeachment inquiry, which — news flash! — has actually been playing out in the House Judiciary Committee since mid-summer. The Ukraine phone call is the cover story for a foregone impeachment conclusion.
It’s never surprising anymore that politicians alter their tune with each day’s changing climate. Here’s Pelosi last March:
“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
Here’s Pelosi last week: “Right now, we have to strike while the iron is hot.”
The president’s high crime she professed to see even before the July Ukraine phone transcript emerged was Trump pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Ukraine’s president has denied any quid pro quo or feeling any pressure from Trump.
Here’s an amazing irony that somehow hasn’t attracted the same volume of media attention: That same Joe Biden is currently on the presidential campaign trail, boasting that, in fact, as a sitting vice president he did threaten Ukraine with a quid pro quo loss of aid if it didn’t fire the prosecutor investigating an energy company that was paying Biden’s son $50,000 a month for something. Biden succeeded.
This latest assault on Trump was sparked by a whistleblower alleging, albeit secondhand, that the president personally was pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden, a possible opponent next year. Turns out, the informant is a CIA employee, giving credence to a prescient 2017 warning from Sen. Chuck Schumer when Trump first criticized intelligence agencies.
“Let me tell you,” Schumer said, “You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
Realistically, neither of these impeachment inquiries will accomplish anything. That is, beyond drowning out any other attempts at newsmaking to impress voters.
And they will allow Washington’s cast of characters on both sides to perform their standard political theater for countless weeks while shirking their day jobs of legislating normal government business such as, oh, say, passing a federal budget before the new fiscal year started this week.
No wonder the average national job approval rating for Congress is barely a third of that for the president it seeks to oust.
D.C.’s political media understandably, if unprofessionally, has a visceral dislike for the man who calls them corrupt, fake and enemies of the people.
One result is that we will now be treated to months of alleged exclusives and scoops detailing out of context millimeter after millimeter of movement in a House impeachment process that may well result in charges against Trump. But truth is, that’s a political cul de sac.
If the Republican Senate takes that up, it is doomed to defeat because convictions there require a two-thirds vote, as they did in 1998 for Bill Clinton and in 1868 for Andrew Johnson. Both failed.
Speaking of 1998, Pelosi has private polls confirming public ones showing Americans’ strong distaste for impeachment, which explains her yearlong effort to prevent it. For one thing, in 1998, voters decided impeaching Clinton for lying about sex in the Oval Office was Republican overreach, and they ousted some of their congressional members in that midterm, contrary to historical patterns.
Pelosi had her savvy political eye on growing her House majority in 2020, maybe even snatching control of the Senate, where the GOP must defend twice as many seats as Democrats. Why risk a backlash threatening all that when voters get their own chance to oust Trump in just 57 weeks, sentencing him to the penthouse life of a billionaire with his own jumbo jet?
And it’s not actually clear, given some bold Trump declarations, that he would mind impeachment proceedings. Like the two years of Russian collusion coverage, they’re not really going anywhere. They certainly keep the spotlight on him and off the squabbling pack of wannabe Democratic replacements trying to build national name recognition.
And anyone who sampled social media in recent days got a strong whiff of the motivating anger ignited within Trump’s loyal base. It sees him as slashing regulations, producing tax cuts, rebuilding the military, crushing the ISIS caliphate, standing up for religious freedom, all the while bravely enduring, at no salary, attacks from all sides of the political and media establishment swamp. And he plays on that siege mentality.
Given the frozen stalemates of American politics these days, you know that appearances are far more important than reality. No one will ever concede defeat. Eventually, everyone will claim victory of some kind. Perhaps instead we could all just agree that Trump’s real high crime was denying Clinton her rightful reign on an Oval Office throne. And move on.