If you recall the headlines atop my blog posts on impeachment over the last several months — among them Whatever Happened To That Democratic Blue Wave?,Fuggedabout Trump: The Democratic Circular Firing Squad Goes After Obama, and most recently The Long, Tragicomic Slog Toward Impeachment — you probably are onto my view that if Donald Trump goes down it will have less to do with House Democrats, whose extraordinary dithering continues apace, than the unchained nutjob president himself.
It should go without saying that this is an epic failure of the Democratic congressional leadership and a betrayal of 2018 midterm election voters.
This was going to be the week, or so we were led to believe, that the serious business of impeaching a president who has been rubbing his high crimes and misdemeanors in Democratic faces with impunity would finally get underway. Yes, the House Judiciary Committee took the extraordinarily unbold step of voting to formally establish the rules of an impeachment investigation on Thursday, but the party leadership couldn’t even agree as to what that meant.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had preloaded the inevitable confusion by declaring before the vote that the vote was not tantamount to an impeachment inquiry.
Then post-vote, House Democratic Caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries seemed to state the obvious in explaining that “We’re conducting an impeachment investigation into the culture of corruption, abuse of power and obstruction of justice.”
Fair enough, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promptly stepped on Jeffries’ lines by pointedly refusing to use the word “impeachment” in reference to the vote.
“I support what is happening in the Judiciary Committee that enables them to do their process of interrogation and their investigation, and I salute them for that work,” she said in saying nothing. When pressed by an uppity reporter about whether she is uncomfortable with the term “impeachment inquiry” and if people should be using a different term, Pelosi bristled.
“We are on our path. Where it takes us is where the — we will follow the facts,” quoth Madame Speaker.
Former Obama White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer cut through the crap.
“The politics of impeachment are debatable,” tweeted Pfeiffer. “Maybe they are good. Maybe they aren’t. No one knows. But I do know that the current Democratic strategy of telling the base they are impeaching Trump and telling the moderates the opposite is an absolute disaster.”
That about sums it up.
The Democrats can’t even agree on what to call the damned thing because many are afraid of their own shadows, let alone Trump’s small hands — as they hang themselves out to dry and the clock ticks down to 2020, which happens to be a presidential election year. This inevitably will suck even more oxygen out of the impeachment “initiative,” such as it is, just as the Democratic president debate on Thursday night (during which it was acknowledged in passing that Trump is a really bad man) stole the day.
To put things in an historic context, this depressing state of affairs owes much to the corruption of American politics, which long predates Trump.
“Moscow Mitch” McConnell has been teaching a master class in that since he famously uttered upon the election of Barack Obama that his priority was to make sure the Islamofascist from Kenya was a one-term president. He had to settle for the next best thing, making sure that Obama was unable to accomplish much of significance over two terms, the crowning achievement of which was refusing to join the then-president and Democrats in sounding the alarm once the extent of Russia interference in the 2016 campaign to grease the skids for Trump became known.
But Democrats have, in their own way, been almost as corrupt, pretty much parking their vaunted principles at the door in talking the talk but not walking the walk. The mess they have made of impeachment is a result.
To return to where I started, only Trump — incapable of changing his outrageous behavior and curbing his assault on decency and democracy — may be able to end his awful presidency.
Oh, and that noise you hear is Vladimir Putin laughing into his vodka.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on September 12, 2019 on Kiko’s House, a website featuring commentary by journalist and author, Shaun Mullen. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Mullen.