Before we get to our feature film, here’s a selected short subject that’s related.
Nancy Pelosi is in the news these days primarily for her role in holding off her fellow Democrats – especially Chairman Nadler and his colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee – from proceeding toward impeachment. It is unclear whether Speaker Pelosi’s intention is to give a green light to an impeachment inquiry a bit further down the road or to steer clear of impeachment altogether in favor of using the 2020 election as the means to get rid of this clearly impeachable President. Her remark (reported yesterday), “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison,” suggests that she’s looking to his being defeated in 2020.
But as the Washington Post reported a month ago, “Nancy Pelosi is worried Trump won’t give up power if he loses in 2020” – a fear that is considered by some to be quite possibly well founded. (See here and here.)
Now I don’t know about you, but if I were worried that the President in the Oval Office might use his powers to remain President even if defeated in his bid for re-election, I would not wait for that election to provide the means to get rid of such a President who had already shown himself to be – by perhaps an order of magnitude – the most impeachable President in American history.
Now, to our feature film.
The main issue of the day is – quite rightly – the question of impeachment. (Indeed, I would say that’s been the main issue – or should have been – for a couple of years.) The Democrats in the House may be moving in that direction, but they are still struggling over it.
One of the arguments against impeachment frequently raised is that the Republican-dominated Senate would not convict, so what’s the point.
Another theme in the Democrats’ equivocating over impeachment is that the American people want them to deal with issues that touch their lives—like health care, etc. So they don’t want to have their whole drama swallowed up by impeachment instead of their ambitious legislative agenda. They keep declaring how they’ve passed more than 100 pieces of legislation.
Which brings us to what I’m calling here a “foolish inconsistency.”
On the one hand, the prediction that the Senate would not follow through with House-passed articles of impeachment against the President is cited as demonstrating the futility of going ahead with the process.
But on the other hand, the Democrats don’t apply that same argument to all that legislation that they’re passing that simply goes and dies in the Senate where Mitch McConnell doesn’t even allow the measures to come up for a vote.
Why the difference in attitudes about futility?
Indeed, if there’s a difference here it is in favor of doing the impeachment (that won’t presumably lead to removal) rather than the focus on the legislation (that will surely go nowhere).
The difference that should tilt things toward an emphasis on impeachment, rather than on passing legislation, is that impeachment commands media and public attention, whereas the passage of all the Democrats’ good legislation is almost completely invisible. (I pay a lot of attention to our politics these days, and the House passing all these more than 100 bills has hardly registered a blip.)
So if there’s anything that’s futile – unless and until the Democrats can make the public aware of all the good things they’re demonstrating a desire to do for the nation, which they’ve not yet managed to do – it is passing all this invisible and unenactable legislation.
Besides which, two points:
First, as I’ve argued in “…,” impeachment in the House is likely anything but futile even if the Senate acquits. Exposing the wrongdoing of President Trump to the American people would be valuable in itself. And exposing the moral bankruptcy of a Trump Party that would vote to acquit the most impeachable President the nation has ever had (and quite nearly the most impeachable President one could imagine) – would be powerfully advantageous politically to the Democrats seeking in the 2020 elections to drive the Republicans from power across the board—House, Senate, White House.
And second, there is a good reason why the nation seems to have its eyes fixed on the impeachment issue, rather than on legislation that can’t affect anything so long as the Republicans hold the Senate and the White House. That good reason is the extraordinary stakes in the political battle over this lawless President—stakes aptly described by House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler:
“Now is the time of testing whether we can keep a republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government, as other republics have over the centuries.”
So the Democrats should attend to the nation’s most urgent – quite fundamental – business: to preserve our liberties as a free people by protecting and defending the constitutional order of our republic.