So They Want to Impeach the Dog

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So I posted a meme the other day, promising to follow it up with an article explaining myself, and so here I am, in fulfillment of my word. In what I write about this, please try to cast me, in your mind’s eye, as a disinterested commentator on public affairs, as an objective analyst, and not as an engaged or bitter partisan. That said, however, I am the kind of objective analyst who might, from time to time, lace his fingers across his tummy, and shake with quiet, bemused laughter.

I am going to do my level best to stay out of the weeds, and just concentrate on the politics of the thing. And it is important to remember that this thing is all politics, all the way through and all the way down.

A Brief Civics Lesson

When a president is impeached, this means that he has been indicted. It does not mean that he has been tried, and it does not mean that he has been found guilty. It means that he has been indicted, and that there is going to be a trial. In the history of the United States, there have been two presidents who have been impeached. They were Andrew Johnson in the aftermath of the Civil War, in 1868, and Bill Clinton, in 1999. Both presidents survived their trials, and remained in office. Richard Nixon, under threat of impeachment, resigned his office in 1974. He probably would not have survived a trial in the Senate.

When a sitting president is indicted in this way, it is the House of Representatives that must vote to take this action. The current House is controlled by the Democrats, and so if it comes to a vote (which it might not), many assume that they will be able to impeach Trump. If that happens, then the trial must be conducted in the Senate, which is controlled by the Republicans, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding. The Senate, in effect, serves as the jury.

Although it is structured as a trial, you must remember that everyone involved is a politician. The whole thing would be partisan, from beginning to end. The body that indicts the president would be partisan, Democrats against the president, and the body that votes on his guilt would be partisan, Republicans in the same party as the president. There is no careful jury selection, in other words. We know who the jury will be, and Cocaine Mitch will be the foreman of that jury.

In short, as things now stand, there is no conceivable way that the president is going to be removed from office. And furthermore, if the president were to be removed from office, what the Democrats would have accomplished is a Pence presidency.

So What Goeth On?

So Trump Derangement Syndrome is real. The base of the Democratic party is operating on the basis of blind fury, and has not really thought this thing through, about which more in a minute. One time, when the young Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a paper designed to refute Plato, he showed it to Emerson. Emerson replied with an adage that is pertinent here. “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

Nancy Pelosi is a good enough politician to know that to go down the impeachment road would be disastrous for the Democrats, and so she has resisted it all along. Even in her most recent capitulation to the fire-eaters of her own party, she just started “formal impeachment proceedings,” which has no force, and is not the same thing as an impeachment vote. It is for show, a sop for the hardliners. But they won’t be content with that for very long at all. After all this sound and fury, signifying nothing, there will either be a vote, or there will not be a vote.

But why would such a vote be disastrous for the Democrats? Trump is the one in the cross hairs. There are two levels to this. one electoral, and the other a tangle mass of judicial liabilities.

Bloodletting Will Just Make the Electoral Map Redder

During an ordinary political time, Trump would have a decent shot at reelection. The economy is good, unemployment low, and so on. The bread and butter issues favor him as an incumbent who is presiding over a strong economy.

But this is not an ordinary time. There are other issues, issues that were in the forefront of Trump’s campaign last time. For just one example, we don’t have a wall on our southern border, and still less do we have a wall that Mexico paid for. How could Trump explain that away? All he has to do is acknowledge that he underestimated how many CRAZY people there were in Washington, and that he is going to keep all of his promises, but that the high levels of CRAZY mean that the job is going to take a little bit longer. He thinks he can do it all in a second term.

And, right on cue, right when he says that key word CRAZY (“It’s a disgrace, I tell you.”) the Democrats show up with their impeachment charade parade.

The average denizen of the red states will look at that and nod quietly to himself. “They really are crazy, and there are an awful lot of them. I think the president must be right.” This attack on Trump — since it cannot remove him — will in fact make him much, much stronger. And while it is too early to tell, I believe that the way things are shaping up amounts to a coming Trump landslide.

A Judicial “Kick Me” Move

And so here is the next thing. It is a big issue that has been overlooked by many. In the course of a Senate trial, the Senate, controlled by Republicans, will be able to subpoena anyone they want. They will be able to call, and place under oath, anyone they want. Mitch McConnell will be in charge of that. Think of what a gaudy line of witnesses we might be able to see and hear on the teevee live. McCabe. Comey. Clapper. Brennan. Hillary. Page. Strzok. Biden, both of them. More than a few people would wind up with a threat of jail time, and when that prospect became apparent, as it is already becoming apparent, the facade will crack, and they will start turning on one another.

A number of people who reluctantly voted for the president last time, and a number of others who are beginning to rethink their refusal to vote for him last time, were fully aware of the fact that Donald Trump was in many ways a flawed and disreputable candidate, tawdry and boorish, and inelegant on top of everything else. But that was a known commodity.

What was not known, and what the last three years have revealed, is that respectable Washington has been a hundred times worse than the president has ever thought of being. Everything that the deep state has accused the president of, they have been manifestly guilty of themselves, and at levels that stagger the imaginations of even the most cynical. If Trump was not paying the appropriate taxes out of his lemonade stand, the deep state was not paying taxes out of their Google/Exxon/Microsoft/Halliburton conglomerate.

The last thing any of these folks should want is accountability. And it appears they have chosen a course that will land almost all of them in a cauldron filled with it.

If Cocaine Mitch wanted to stop all of this (which he might not want to do) — and by “stop” I mean about a hundred yards of rubber laid down on the highway — all he needs to do is release an extended list of the witnesses that will be called during the trial and placed under oath. If he were to do something as simple as that, an impeachment vote in the House would never happen. All we would have is the smell of burning rubber.