It seems to be an argument almost as fundamental as “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, and just about as insoluble. On the one hand you have activist progressives who argue that the constitution isn’t interpreted by politics, and Trump’s offenses require impeachment, and the consequences be damned. And on the other hand, you have the political realists who point to the inherent risk of energizing the President’s base, and risking possible blowback net November that could saddle the country with His Lowness for four more years.
Personally, I have one foot firmly planted on each side of the road, and regularly sway back and forth like a fat hula dancer.While you take an oath to the constitution to serve in public office, and the constitution lays out impeachment as a remedy for a rogue president, the actual “high crimes” in the constitution aren’t spelled out, but it seems to me like obstruction of justice would be one of them. On the other side, critics of impeachment point to the disaster that befell the Republicans in the 1998 midterms after failing to impeach Bill Clinton. And God knows that 4 more years of Der Gropinfuror are a stiff price to pay for what would be a kamikaze run with the current GOP Senate sentiment.
But there are flaws in the anti impeachment argument, using the Clinton impeachment as its warning. For starters, Trump is accused of actual criminal violations, such as obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. Clinton was accused of non criminal personal conduct, and then lying to cover it up. At the time, people seemed sympathetic to Clinton’s lies, after all, who would want to admit to sleeping with the babysitter when his wife is right in the room. Trump will be abler to summon little sympathy for attempting to cover up legitimate criminal violations. Also, Clinton was already a very popular President, with a 57% approval rating, which only went up with impeachment. Trump is mired in the low 40’s, and one recent poll had him at 37%. rather like apples and oranges, wouldn’t you say?
But the biggest difference between the two is also the most striking reason to pull the trigger on impeachment now. And that issue is timing. Journalist Aaron Blake on All In With Chris Hayes last night laid it out in compelling fashion. In 1998, the GOP led House commenced impeachment hearings literally one month before the midterms, against a popular president that the public didn’t want impeached, and then wonder why they took it in the shorts at the polls a month later. And in that instance, they impeached knowing that the Senate would never vote to convict, which it didn’t.
As of today, we are 18 months away from the general election next year. The old saying is that “A month is a year in politics,” and in the era of Trump, we’re talking about dog years here. Tell the truth, can you honestly believe that it has only been 61 days since Mueller turned in his report? With all of the kicking and screaming, hair pulling and eye gouging that has gone on since then, it seems like something from a history book. And that’s just 2 months. You can stick a pin into any one of a hundred events of the Trump presidency which were taken as catastrophic at the time, and if you look 2 months forward, you’ll find a dozen things that made you forget the original sin.
Right now, if Speaker Pelosi were to drop the hammer and start an impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary tomorrow, it would almost certainly be complete by no later than Halloween, including a it stop for a pissing contest in September for a new budget and raising the debt limit. Even if you never get Mueller, McGahn, Hicks, or Lewandowski to sit down and give testimony, you can certainly call in a few of those 900+ former federal prosecutors to testify as to how, with just the public facing information from the Mueller report, they could indict, try, and convict Trump on multiple charges of obstruction of justice. Then you could vote to impeach, which would pass, likely with “bipartisan” support, since Justin Amash has already signaled he’s ready to rock and roll. Then of course, the spineless GOP Senate refuses to convict Trump, even if Mueller himself shows up to say that the only reason he didn’t indict Trump was that stupid OLC guideline. What happens then? Let’s look at each side.
On the Republican side, Trump immediately wraps himself in the moldy cheesecloth cape of victimhood, yet again. He riles up the base, and fund raises off of the suckers to save his portly ass, even though the outcome is predetermined. excuse me, but who freakin’ cares?!? His witless yahoo supporters start foaming at the mouth again, and a few unlucky pedestrians slip and fall in the puddles of drool. By Thanksgiving, Trump is claiming “total and complete vindication!” Again, who gives a fat fuck? The election is still a year away! What does Trump run on? The fact that he beat impeachment? Good luck with that, nobody likes hearing the winning coach bitch about the officiating, you won, shut up already. Without the threat of impeachment, Trump loses his #1 rallying cry, and his goofy backers go back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that Glorious Bleater is safe from harm. He’ll have to go back to the immigrant “infestation” threatening our border, and you saw how well that worked last November.
Now, what happens on the Democratic side? Well, for starters, you drive the intensity of the activist part of your base through the roof. With nationally televised impeachment hearings, on every network, you can force feed educate a captive audience, with underlying documents and evidence, of the extent and depth of Trump’s criminal behavior. As more facts are pounded home, you’ll see the public sentiment for impeachment rise. Then, after you vote to confirm however many articles of impeachment, you can forward them to the senate, with growing public support, and watch 22 Republicans who have to run in 13 months vote to let Trump off of the hook.
Blake gave a perfect example of the mechanics of this in his interview with Chris Hayes. He related how, in October of 2018, he asked a GOP Senator what effect he thought the government shutdown of the previous December and January was impacting voter sentiment. The answer? “Hell, I completely forgot that we even had that shutdown!” And that Senator wasn’t the only one, With few exceptions, it disappeared in an avalanche of healthcare, gun control, and voting rights. And mark my words, with both ears, long after “impeachment” has been put back into the historical library on the “I” shelf, healthcare and abortion rights are going to be front and center. But every Democrat who can benefit from it will be able to proudly wave their vote on impeachment to their constituents.
After all, what happens in January? Well, the presidential primaries for one thing. Democratic candidates can run on the fact that Trump was impeached in the House, and run hard. Or they can let the impeachment dog lie fallow, and concentrate on other, more current issues to start the forgetting process. Whomever wins the nomination will be able to hammer Trump over the head with his impeachment in the debates, granting that the chickenshit agrees to any, and scoff at his victory in the Senate as “politically motivated.” And if Democrats don’t widely want to run on impeachment, there will be a thousand other Trump engineered atrocities to run on, including a likely economic downturn in the last quarter of this year, and bleeding into next year, from his brain dead trade war with China. Trump’s impeachment will fade-to-black faster than the last scene in a Brian DePalma movie.
At this point, I honestly believe that impeachment is inevitable, even Nancy Pelosi’s language, such as “cover up,” and referring to his already in public view “obstruction of justice” as “impeachable offenses,” makes it clear that Pelosi can see the writing on the wall. But if we continue to delay for months, until we finally start to see documents from the banks trickle in, and Trump’s taxes are finally turned over, it will be a nightmare. If impeachment proceedings don’t start until October, they’ll grind to a halt for the holiday break, and nothing will be voted on until January at the earliest, with a Senate trial looming over the first months of the primaries. This will make it easier for Trump to keep whipping his base into a frenzy. Voters in those suburban swing districts, who would have long ago forgotten all about an impeachment vote a year earlier, will have it much fresher in their minds when they go to the polls to pass judgement on their freshman incumbent representatives. Never forget the fact that the vast majority of freshmen who flipped the House came from districts in GOP leaning territory, and do not as of yet support impeachment.
Look, the handwriting is on the wall. It’s like open heart surgery, the tests have already been done, and the doctor has made his diagnosis. You can dither all you want, but this is something much better seen through the rear view mirror, and not the front windshield. So, let’s just get it over with, recuperate and go through rehab, and lead a long and healthy life starting next November. Enough is enough.
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