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Thursday’s impeachment inquiry vote went down as expected – the only crack in the partisan divide came on the Democratic side where two representatives, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota voted “no.” The frothing-at-the-mouth opponents of President Trump were downright gleeful. But the anti-Trump forces might be well to heed the immortal words of Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes, Minister, “If you’re going to do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”
The closed door, locked in the basement, no questions allowed from the other side is a bad look. If they wanted to design a procedure to bolster the President’s witch hunt claims they couldn’t have done a better job. Then there’s the Bulwarkian cheerleaders on the Right, awash in the money of Leftist activists such as Pierre Omidyar, cementing the view that his foes within his party hold the ordinary voter in disdain and only cater to the donor class. “They’re coming after me,” Trump said at the recent Values Voter Summit, “because I’m fighting for you.”
So far, the only thing that these unlikely political bedfellows have accomplished is to take a man of limited political skill and limited political capital and turned him into a martyr. Instead of cleaving his supporters away from him they’ve merely cemented the “them vs us” appeal of his presidency.
Then there’s the timing of everything. One of the unintended consequences of the 22nd Amendment was to more than triple the length of the quadrennial campaign season. Where once an Eisenhower could declare in June of an election year, now challengers start debating 18 months out. So why not just wait another six months and take the President on in the electoral arena? Probably because his opponents realize the current generic polling that has so many amateur observers in a froth are meaningless. At this point in the 2012 race the Quinnipiac University poll showed that a solid majority of 54% said Barack Obama did not deserve to be re-elected. Yet he won by 4 percentage points and a hefty 126-vote margin in the Electoral College.
The words “binary choice” are the things that make up the nightmares of the President’s foes. Impeachment would not only remove Trump, but part of the punishment could be making him ineligible to run again. They know that the Sanders/Warren economic plan is not the winner the true believers think it is. If the choice is between another four years of Donald Trump and replicating the Venezuelan disaster on the world’s largest economy, Donald Trump wins hands down.
Impeachment makes sense for the Democrats if it’s successful. If it fails it will fail spectacularly. For “Never-Trump,” it is an exercise in self-righteous stupidity and is a lose-lose proposition. If the President’s most ardent supporters – the ones they label “cultists” – only make up one-third of the electorate, then permanently alienating them is a path to permanent rump status. Politics of principle without ever having the means to govern reduces those principles to a useless mental parlor game. Their fantasies of a reconstituted Bush/Romney party in the post-Trump era are just that – fantasies.
So, here we go. They’re going to do this damn silly thing in this damn silly way and take a flawed and wounded President and make him a martyr. You can wish for an event but you can never control the outcome. And one should always be careful of what one wishes for as you just might get it.