The Impeachment of the President of the United States was an unheard-of idea for most of the first century of the country’s existence. It took the Civil War and its partisan aftermath to produce the first impeachment and even then, President Andrew Johnson was acquitted. When over a hundred years later Richard Nixon was threatened with impeachment, he became the first president to resign his office rather than subject the nation to such a trauma. But twenty-five years later the standards of the country had eroded sufficiently that not only did Bill Clinton refuse to resign but he was actually acquitted of perjury and obstruction charges despite documentary and physical evidence to the contrary. Now twenty years of polarization past that point it seems probable that a politically motivated impeachment charge by the Democrats against a popular Republican president might actually be a net positive for the president.
For the whole period of Donald Trump’s presidency and even before his inauguration, various Democrat officials and almost all of the Media have bandied about the impeachment threat. When the Mueller investigation collapsed there was a short respite when even the Democrat leaders admitted that impeachment was no longer an option.
But with the recent Ukraine events Nancy Pelosi was hounded by the younger members of the Democrat caucus to announce that she has initiated a formal impeachment action. Wow, that sounds serious! But wait. “She cannot unilaterally decide we’re in an impeachment inquiry. What she said today makes no difference about what’s been going on,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after Pelosi’s announcement.” In other words, in order for an actual impeachment investigation to be started the full House has to vote on and approve it and Pelosi has refused to bring one to the floor. So, what is actually going on here?
Despite what AOC’s Goon Squad would have you believe, impeaching President Trump on spurious charges would most likely lose Nancy Pelosi the House Democrat Majority and her Speaker’s chair after the 2020 election. And Pelosi knows that. In addition, the chance of the Senate convicting the President is effectively zero. Twenty republican senators would have to join the democrats for the necessary two thirds majority and that’s even assuming that senators like Joe Manchin of West Virginia would vote for something so unpopular with their constituencies. Then, what is the strategy here?
My interpretation of the situation is that Democrats have to appear to be holding the President accountable for investigating members of the Obama administration that are known to have been involved in influence peddling. That includes, at least, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Actually, allowing an investigation of these sacred cows of the Democrat establishment risks exposing levels of corruption that would certainly upend the American political order.
But they are trying to use the threat of impeachment only. Because once they actually impeach him and he is acquitted by the Senate then Congress is basically a spent force. They will have done their worst and the last bullet will have been fired. At that point his continued existence as president will be a constant reminder to them and the rest of the country of their impotence. All of their posturing and rhetoric will seem hollow and ridiculous. And ridiculous is a very bad thing for influence peddlers.
What is difficult for me to determine is exactly what the President’s strategy is here. Is he trying to force an impeachment or is it just collateral to his desire to punish the cabal that tried to overturn his election? I think either one of those two scenarios is possible. Personally, I hope he is working to expose the criminal conspiracy that exists against him. Nothing would make me happier than hearing that Comey, McCabe, Brennan and Clapper were indicted and awaiting trial for treason. The damage these people have done to the country is hard to overestimate.
But is it possible that President Trump is trying to get himself impeached? It seems, at first glance, unthinkable. Why would a president risk removal from office no matter how unlikely? And if running for re-election wouldn’t he worry that the impeachment stigma would destroy his electability? Maybe not.
The United States has become almost completely polarized. The Left/Right divide has become a chasm both wide and deep. Like the opposite sides of the Grand Canyon each can see the other from a vast distance with the space between a desolate no-man’s land. So, impeachment will only serve to seal the fate of any Democrats still serving office in Red areas of the country and alternatively for Republicans in Blue areas. It will stoke the resentment of partisans on both sides of the divide and fit in with each side’s narrative. But being acquitted by the Senate will uplift the spirits of the Right and depress those of the Left. In that sense it would be a net positive for the President’s side and may have been calculated by the political experts as a winning strategy. It seems bizarre but I concede it is possible.
How does one decide which of these two situations is the actual one? You probably can’t do it definitively but I guess one sign would be whether President Trump provides further excuses for the House to investigate him. Let’s say he calls up the British Prime Minister and asks for him to investigate any links between the Clinton campaign and the Steele Dossier. With the almost endless leaks coming out of the intelligence agencies we’d be hearing about it before the phone call ended. Though, even that would still leave open the possibility that the President was more interested in getting to the bottom of the coup. But at the very least it would mean that he was unworried about impeachment.
And honestly it appears that there is no reason to fear impeachment any more. Not even the Media will pretend there is any objectivity toward President Trump. In fact, they are proud to say they are abandoning evenhandedness to do whatever it takes to destroy his presidency. So, there is no danger of any of the President’s voters believing anything the Media or the Democrats say.
So here we are in the brave new world where a Republican President isn’t afraid of impeachment but the Democrat Speaker of the House is. Who knows, maybe Pelosi will back down sometime in the next few weeks. I’m no longer surprised by anything that happens in our politics. The Democrats stopped following the rules half a century ago and we finally have a man who can fight fire with fire. This wild ride that we’ve been on since Donald Trump entered the political arena a few years ago promises to upend all the remaining stupidities that the hapless Republican establishment figures put up with in the past. Here’s hoping that in 2021 President Trump has a reliable Republican congress, a swamp drained of all Deep State saboteurs and a robustly conservative Supreme Court to move us forward into a more hopeful future.