Nancy Pelosi was an outspoken opponent of impeaching Donald Trump from day one. She knew it would represent a catastrophic misjudgment on the part of her fellow Democrats, would do nothing but energize Trump’s base, and make defeating him in 2020 an impossibility.
But she finally got stampeded into going along with this insanity. She and perhaps Steny Hoyer are the only Democrats who see that this whole thing is liable to go over a cliff dragging the entire Democratic Party behind them.
Nancy put Adam Schiff in charge of this charade for one reason. She needs a scapegoat for when this all implodes, and the pompous and unlikeable Schiff is it. Like any good explosives expert, she wants to be as far away from the device as possible when it goes off, and she wants somebody else to take the blame for it. Poor Adam Schiff doesn’t realize he has been led into a booby trap, and Nancy is not going to be there for him when the thing blows up.
The only chance the Democrats had in succeeding with this drive-by political assassination was to do it so fast it would be done before people gathered their wits. Well, that window of opportunity has closed and the people are on to them. Impeachment was their desperation fallback maneuver when the Mueller report exonerated Trump of collusion and obstruction charges. When this feeble impeachment effort fails, the Democrats will be left holding an empty bag and hoping a snipe runs into it.
Politically, an impeachment of Trump has no chance of success. By requiring a two-thirds vote to convict, the Founders wisely insisted on a nationwide consensus that a president has been guilty of egregious misconduct before a successful impeachment attempt could succeed. That consensus does not exist. According to a USA Today/Suffolk poll, just 36% of Americans support the impeachment of the president by the House. That’s not going to get it done, by a lot.
Other polls have the nation just about evenly split between removal and non-removal. That’s light-years short of the two-thirds consensus required. Legislators know they have to answer to their constituents at the ballot box in just a little over a year, which is likely the only reason two Democrats voted yesterday not to proceed with the impeachment effort. I’ve been around elected officials long enough to know that after they first get elected the only thing that matters to them is getting reelected. All told, 31 Democrat members of the House represent districts won by Trump in 2016. A vote to remove him is a vote against their own self-interest, and I don’t think very many representatives are courageous or stupid enough to do something like that.
Zero Republicans voted to proceed, which is not fatal to impeachment since Democrats control the House, but it’s a rock-solid indicator that there is no way they’re going to find enough Mitt Romneys to sandbag their own president in the Senate. It ain’t gonna happen. According to Gallup, the president enjoys the approval of 87% of his party right now, 10 points higher than the support Obama enjoyed from his party at the same point in his presidency. Fifty Republican senators are already on record opposing this farce, which leaves Democrats at least 17 votes short of a conviction.
A poll by Selzer and Company/Grinnell College reveals that, just like Trump, 70% of Americans are believers in America first, while just 19% self-identify as socialists. That’s bad news for Bernie and Liz Warren.
The Washington Post published a remarkable column yesterday that flatly said, “Trump without the Trumpiness would win reelection in a landslide.” By “Trumpiness,” the Post means his pugnacious personality, his skewering of everyone who attacks him, and his relentless Twitter feed. In other words, if a kinder-gentler candidate just ran on Trump’s record - a persistently strong stock market, record-low unemployment, the biggest tax cut in a generation, below-average gasoline prices, deregulation like we have never seen, an entire rack of constitutionalist judges, and stamping al Baghdadi’s passport to his 72 raisins in the sky - not even Ronald Reagan in his prime could beat him.
For Trump’s base, his Trumpiness is not a bug, it’s a feature. His Trumpiness is why Trump’s base voted for him and why they still passionately love him and support him. Woe to any politician or any political party that’s gonna take that on and hopes to live to tell about it.
To make things fatally worse, former senior White House and NSC official Tim Morrison testified yesterday, “I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed” on Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Zelensky. The Democrats “smoking gun” is starting to shoot blanks.
The number 2 man at the State Department, John Sullivan, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that he “was not aware” of any effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in exchange for $391 million in military aid. He said he is also unaware of any attempt to push other foreign governments to investigate the president’s political rivals. His comments were of a piece with impeachment probe testimony given by former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker.
What many folks don’t even know is that a treaty with Ukraine, signed in 1998, gives the president the duty of investigating corruption in Ukraine to protect America’s political and financial interests, corruption of precisely the kind Hunter Biden is accused of. Trump’s call with President Zelensky was a completely legal and utterly defensible request for cooperation under this binding agreement. The president was just doing his job.
Bret Stephens of the New York Times, an impassioned Never-Trumper, admitted, regarding Trump’s behavior, “whatever else might be said about it, was not unlawful.”
The Democrats will soldier on, riding like Tennyson’s six hundred into the Valley of Death. But you can stick a fork in impeachment. It’s done.
The author may be contacted at email@example.com