If you think the nation’s capital does not live somewhere down the rabbit hole, you have not been following the “to impeach or not to impeach” debate going between Capital Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Ever since the Constitution was enacted the prospect of an impeachment of a President was assumed to be the desire of the House of Representative over the objection of the guy sitting in the White House. In fact, that has been the case when President Andrew Johnson was impeached, when President Richard Nixon escaped impeachment by resigning ahead of a House vote and when President Bill Clinton was impeached.
That makes sense – but not in today’s topsy-turvy world of politics. For a while, it appeared that the political wolves in the House were salivating to commence an impeachment hearing against President Trump. It was expected that Trump would resist the effort with all the tenacity his pugnacious personality could muster.
While there are a few Democrat hotheads who are eager to get to an impeachment vote, the House leadership – in the person of Speaker Nancy Pelosi – started thinking that impeachment might not be the smartest strategy. But there was still New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that would be responsible for opening an impeachment hearing.
There was no doubt that Nadler had been hinting about impeachment, and he has a personality as strident and pugnacious as Trump on his worst day. But even he decided that impeachment may not be the best course of action for Democrats. Nadler essentially put the brake on the speeding Impeachment Express.
They were concerned that an impeachment effort may have the same outcome it had with Clinton. The Republicans got their impeachment and Clinton’s popularity ratings soared – and the GOP took a drubbing in the next election. It seems that the public-at-large is not very fond of ousting a duly elected President for anything but the most serious of crimes, malfeasances or derangements – and despite all the investigations and accusations, there does not seem to be enough there-there to convince the general public to join the political vigilantes.
Weeeell, that must have come as a great relief to Trump and his allies. It would appear that impeachment is off the table and the only means by which Trump could possibly removed from office is by the voters in 2020. Pelosi & Co. see that as the better option.
However, according to some of the media and a few Democrats, Trump is angling for an impeachment. As the theory goes, Trump is provoking Democrats to impeach him based on the same reasoning that Pelosi is using NOT to impeach him – what might be called the Clinton effect. An effort by Democrats to impeach will actually make Trump more popular – sort of a sympathy backlash.
Trump has pretty much called an end of any cooperation with the myriad of investigations being launched by Democrats under her leadership. Pelosi believes that such a broad refusal creates a constitutional crisis to which the House must respond. She alleges that it violates the oversight rights and authorities of the Congress.
(Incidentally, I find the Democrats making everything a constitutional crisis to be a bit tiring. There may be constitutional issues that need to be resolved by the courts, but that is constitutional PROCESS, not crisis. But I digress.)
With Trump, himself, baiting the impeachment trap, what are the Democrats to do now? Democrats who want to expand their control in Washington do not want to be drawn into impeachment. However, there is a growing element of radical Democrats who want to disrupt both the Republican power in Washington AND the leadership of their own party.
If this was a Clint Eastwood movie, this is the scene in which Trump faces the angry opponent, gestures to encourage them to come forward and says, “Come on. Make my day.” And we all know how that turns out.
So, there ‘tis.