Impeaching the president when conviction is politically impossible, Rich Lowry writes, “diverts the time and energy of the nation’s political institutions as if the survival of a presidency is at stake, even when everyone knows it really isn’t.” Congress, he adds, “needn’t drag the country through a melodrama” given the known conclusion.
What has impeachment diverted the time and energy of Congress and the White House from? Raising the age to buy tobacco? Passing Trump’s tweaks to the North American trade deal? Spending more money? None of that was actually vital to the national interest, but all of it happened during impeachment anyway. This Congress and this president weren’t going to be getting a lot done together under any circumstances, and impeachment does not appear to have shrunk that amount.
We heard the same complaints in 1998 and 1999, with the parties reversed: Republicans were dragging the country through the trauma of an impeachment, poisoning the political landscape, etc. In retrospect, though, 1998 and 1999 look like pretty good years in the history of the country, and it was the warnings of the dire consequences of impeachment that were unnecessarily melodramatic.