The Democrats’ mad quest to harpoon Moby Don continues unabated, but they seem to be running out of steam, while new dangers may await some of the crew ahead (apologies for mixed metaphors).
Last week Jerry’s Kids produced two articles of impeachment, more noteworthy for what they did not say than for what they did. There was no mention of Russian collusion, hush payments to Stormy Daniels, emoluments, bribery, extortion, or any of the other gazillion abominable and detestable crimes of which Moby Don has been accused over the past 3 years.
Indeed, while Donald Trump is the fourth president to face the probability of impeachment, he is the first to face impeachment with no formal accusation that he actually broke any specific criminal statute. Congress charged Andrew Johnson of violation of the Tenure of Office Act (since declared unconstitutional) for trying to fire his Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, without Senate approval. Congress charged Bill Clinton with lying under oath while being deposed in a sexual harassment lawsuit, and would have charged Richard Nixon with committing the crime of trying to cover up the Watergate burglary. But no criminal charges are being brought against the Donald.
The only bone of contention is the boneheaded telephone call wherein President Trump seemed to request the President of the Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens on threat of withholding federal aid if no such announcement were made. But the aid was released anyway well before the Congressionally-imposed deadline for doing so had expired, without any compliance with the President’s request.
Notwithstanding the content of the Incredible Shrinking Impeachment Articles, the House will no doubt impeach the President this week, with almost every representative voting along party lines. The President will be impeached. And then things will get more interesting. The constitutionally-mandated Senate trial will be a snooze—its outcome, the President’s acquittal, is a foregone conclusion. But the fate of some of the Democrats who voted for—or in a few cases against—impeachment will be worth following.
Most members of Congress come from districts safely Democratic or safely Republican, and they will vote along party lines to impeach the President, or not, without having to worry about any fallout in next year’s primary and general elections. But the 31 Democrats elected from districts which President Trump carried in 2016 face a painful dilemma as they decide how to vote on impeachment next week. Those who vote for impeachment will face the wrath of Trump’s supporters next fall; indeed—nothing will more effectively stir up the President’s supporters and send them to the polls to take revenge than the President’s impeachment. But those who vote against impeachment will face a different threat—the threat of being “primaried,” or being defeated for renomination by more progressive Democratic activists supporting the President’s impeachment and determined to punish relative moderates for failing to get with the program.
And all this will work to the GOP’s advantage: Pro-impeachment Democrats in these swing districts may well be replaced by Republicans next November, thereby increasing the GOP’s chances of reclaiming the House and the Speakership. And those progressives who defeat anti-impeachment Democrats in the primaries next year may well go on to be defeated by the Republicans in the general election as well, since the voters may perceive them as too radical. Again, the GOP’s seats in the House will be increased. In short, the Democrats will win the battle next week, but may lose subsequent battles and the war. It’s altogether possible that the day after next fall’s presidential election, we’ll see Republicans back in control of the House, as well as the Senate, and with President Trump re-elected.
No doubt Speaker Pelosi foresaw this when she said earlier in the year that she was opposed to impeachment unless and until a bipartisan coalition supporting impeachment, similar to the bipartisan coalition which supported President Nixon’s impeachment in 1974, was assembled. She apparently decided to abandon that stance as the progressives in the Democratic Party threatened to seize control of the process anyway. She may have feared a revolt among House Democrats wherein she’d be removed as Speaker. But whatever reasons she has for abandoning her initial opposition to impeachment, one is tempted to ask, “So how’s that all working out, Nancy?”
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.