The Morning Jolt

Elections

Slouching toward Impeachment?

May 6, 2019; Washington, D.C., USA; President Donald Trump speaks during the ceremony to present the Commander in Chiefís Trophy at a White House event with the Army Black Knights in the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports – 12654045

Making the click-through worthwhile: For the love of God, Democrats, stop telling us how seriously you’re thinking about impeaching the president, and just do it or drop the issue; how Trump’s accusations about Hunter Biden help Joe Biden in the Democratic primary; why some people can’t perceive irony; and straw-gate.

Go Ahead, Democrats. Rip Off the Band-Aid of Impeachment. Get It Over With.

How many times since January 20, 2017 have we heard promises, pledges, and predictions that congressional Democrats would impeach the president? The Washington Free Beacon gathered all of those “the walls are closing in” statements. For months, Democratic members of Congress have contended that Trump’s lawbreaking is self-evident, that he’s trying to “make America white again,” that he’s created a constitutional crisis, and that “this man and his family are the greatest threats to democracy of my lifetime” . . . but then the lawmakers making those white-hot accusations voted against impeachment. Guys, if what you’re saying is more than just a fundraising pitch, then act on your words. But if you don’t mean what you say, stop saying it.

Back in April, after the Mueller report came out, I argued that Democrats ought to get impeachment over with, recognizing that it would probably work against their long-term interests. If they really believed Trump had committed high crimes and misdemeanors, and they really believed impeachment was warranted, they should stop talking about it, do it, and accept the consequences. They could legitimately argue that it was not the sort of matter that should be resolved in the upcoming election. A presidential election is not a trial; the opposing party’s nominee is not a prosecutor and the electorate is not a jury. Our Constitution includes a mechanism for resolving allegations of presidential lawbreaking, and that’s impeachment. In 1998 and 1999, many Congressional Republicans concluded that presidential lawbreaking demanded consequence, whether enforcing that consequence is popular or not. Democrats are free to embrace that philosophy today.

Democrats in the grassroots love to tell themselves a story that they’re the good guys, that they do what’s right even when it’s difficult, and that they don’t duck responsibilities out of political expediency. House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s determination to avoid impeachment is eating away at how grassroots Democrats perceive their party.

Here we are in mid-to-late September. An impeachment process that took six months, like the one against Bill Clinton, would resolve itself sometime in March or so, after the first primaries and caucuses. If you’re a congressional Republican, this is the easiest call in the world. You shake your head in deep concern about what Trump is alleged to have done and then conclude, “while I find the description of the president’s actions troubling, suggesting a blurring of the lines between his political interests and the national interests, we are just months away from the election. I believe this is a matter best left for the American people to judge at the ballot box. I trust the voters to decide, unlike some people who have been throwing tantrums every day since Election Night 2016.”

There’s a chance impeachment could cost Democrats control of the House of Representatives; at least 13 House Democrats who represent districts that Trump won would have to vote “yes” on impeachment for it to get to the Senate. Then again, maybe an impeachment vote creates some headaches for Republican senators like Susan Collins in Maine, Cory Gardner in Colorado, or Thom Tillis in North Carolina.

Oh, and if Democrats genuinely believe that the allegation of an attempt to strongarm Ukraine is a completely different, more serious, and clearer argument for impeachment than the president’s actions described in the Mueller report, they should not have the argument led by people like Adam Schiff who insisted all the Russian collusion stuff was a serious and clear case for impeachment. Chicken Little has a credibility problem.

Ben Domenech argues that President Trump wants to be impeached. “It polls terribly. He won’t be removed from office. And he wants the tribal “they’re crazy, they tried to impeach me for this” narrative.”

That’s undoubtedly a factor at play, although I don’t think Trump is faking his outrage that the Democrats would even think of impeaching a president as self-evidently terrific as he is. As he put it in a May tweet, “Impeach for what, having created perhaps the greatest Economy in our Country’s history, rebuilding our Military, taking care of our Vets (Choice), Judges, Best Jobs Numbers Ever, and much more?” As we all know, Article Two, Section Four of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress may not impeach the president if the national unemployment rate is below five percent.*

As of last week, just 37 percent of registered voters supported impeachment and 50 percent oppose it. Maybe the new allegations about an attempt to strongarm Ukraine will change those numbers, but probably not dramatically.

The conventional wisdom is that an impeachment effort would probably strengthen Trump’s reelection odds. But Democrats might also wonder if their constant talk of impeachment but continued refusal to go through with it adds to the perception that nothing the president has done is out of the ordinary or all that bad. Impeachment might strengthen Trump politically, but it could also conceivably weaken him.

Ann Althouse theorizes that Democrats aren’t so sure that they will win in 2020, and that they might see impeachment as their best tool to hobble Trump going forward.

Either way, time is not on the Democrats’ side. The closer we get to Election Day, the more ridiculous it looks to try to remove the president right before Americans get to decide on whether he deserves a second term. Some Democrats might even be foolish enough to echo the argument of William Weld, that if Trump gets reelected, Congress should impeach him afterward. Impeachment is not meant to be election insurance in case the voters make a choice that Congressional majorities oppose.

*No, not really.

Trump’s Attack on Biden

Because Democrats perceive Donald Trump to be the devil and believe that any allegations the president makes about any Democrat must be a lie, now no Democratic candidate can even bring up Hunter Biden. Reread the Biden sections of Friday’s and Monday’s Jolts. At the absolute minimum, Hunter Biden keeps attracting shady foreign businessmen as partners, is willfully blind to the conflict of interest issues he keeps creating for this father —“I guess this Chinese tycoon just gave me a giant diamond out of genuine friendship, there’s no way he could possibly be trying to purchase a connection to a future president of the United States” — and Joe Biden loves his son too much to recognize or acknowledge the problems his son is creating. Hunter Biden had the audacity to tell The New Yorker that one of his clients going to prison for a “multiyear, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe top government officials in Chad and Uganda” was simply a matter of “bad luck.”

Hunter Biden’s business partners and clients and potential conflicts of interest are absolutely legitimate issues for any rival of Joe Biden’s to bring up. But now none of the Democrats can talk about them, because it would be seen as at least partially validating Trump’s complaints about the Bidens and corruption.

In an odd way, this is one of the best developments of the primary for Biden. Right now, any attack on him from any rival would be seen as kicking him when he’s down or at least taking fire from Trump.

Elizabeth Warren could and should say, “in November, we Democrats are going to want to have the clearest contrast possible with Donald Trump. This president loves to make counter-accusations of corruption against anyone who criticizes him. If our nominee has a son who’s been involved with all kinds of shady characters, Trump will use this to muddy the waters and leave people thinking all politicians have these sorts of issues. We as a party can’t afford that risk, and we need to nominate someone else.” But if she went out and made that argument now, the grassroots that currently love her would probably get mad that she’s conceding that Hunter Biden is a legitimate issue of concern.

Trump talking about Biden and Biden talking about Trump make it feel like we’ve already moved on to the general election. Good luck getting your message out in this environment, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and Amy Klobuchar.

By the way, do you notice who hasn’t burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man to declare that the allegations about the Bidens are specious nonsense and a smear; to declare that the former vice president’s effort to get the Ukrainians to fire a state prosecutor were right, proper, and motivated entirely by the national interest?

Barack Obama.

Some People Need to Go Back to Irony School

I knew some folks who weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer would interpret yesterday’s “Inside the Mind of the Warren Voter” as some sort of straight-up personal endorsement of Warren, and contend that National Review had now gone full-on hard-left progressive. (It was a follow-up to the preceding week’s “Inside the Mind of the Biden Voter.”)

Please tell me you spotted the deliberate glaring contradiction below:

You can’t believe anyone’s still giving her grief over the Native American thing. All she did wrong was believe her own family’s stories! Nobody can prove that the claim of Native heritage alone ever got her hired or promoted or recognized. She didn’t tell Harvard Law School to call her a “woman of color.” She says she didn’t even know the school was doing that, and you believe her. Even if she did know about it, a white lie like that never really hurt anyone. It’s a distraction from the main issue: that dishonest elites who cut corners have risen to the top of American society and they’re now trying to get even more power for themselves.

Or this:

As for Bernie Sanders, there are days you love him, but you’re not so certain he can get the job done. He senses the same injustices that you do, but he isn’t willing to do the homework the way Warren was. He railed about this stuff for decades before anybody noticed. You hope his truce with Warren holds, because he deserves a lot of credit for shaking up a complacent, corporatist Democratic party in 2016. But it’s really time for him to pass the torch to someone younger, like the 70-year-old Warren.

To quote the guys on NFL Live, “come on, man!”

There are a whole bunch of folks out there who get offended by something you write and conclude that because you wrote it, you must secretly be on the other side.

ADDENDA: Kevin Williamson shocks the world by coming out against straws. Not plastic straws, just straws in general. Madeline Kearns is left to defend the instrument for imbibing liquids.

Kevin says “everybody wants to give me a straw,” which means he hasn’t encountered the Straw Commissars who are currently rampaging across the Acela Corridor countryside, barring plastic straws from Starbucks and restaurants and replacing them with paper ones that seem designed to dissolve when they come in contact with liquids.

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