We are entering a political wind tunnel. An impeachment vote in the US House appears, after conclusory hearings, increasingly likely. But a word of caution; “Be careful what you wish for”, may become the Democrat mantra. Here is why.
From the moment this “impeachment inquiry” began – first without a chamber vote, then with one; first in closed hearings, then nominally public; first demanding the whistleblower be heard, then demanding he not; first promises of material witnesses, then excluding them; first swearing “fair and impartial” proceedings, then offering “sit down and shut up” partisanship – the outcome was clear. House Democrats, who failed impeachment with Mueller, still want to unseat Trump.
As impeachment proceeds, expect it to get messier. The next step will be deciding whether to call more anti-Trump witnesses, as Thanksgiving’s recess will school House Democrats on their weak case. Independents are tipping against impeachment.
One way to improve their odds is to showcase more anti-Trump witnesses. Risk is this takes time, confirms their case’s weakness, and pushes more Independents and Democrats against impeachment. It could also get boring.
Assuming no more witnesses, the process remains messy. At present, House Speaker Pelosi has not “whipped” the vote. She will surely wait until after Thanksgiving, then give a rah-rah-must-impeach speech. Leadership will ask, then demand, cajole, and threaten payback, if Democrats do not vote “yea.”
An outside chance exists that whipping it hard, Democrats do not get the numbers for a big “yea” vote, triggering a rethink, retreat to censure. Five reasons explain.
First, the case is objectively weak – and after Thanksgiving recess, members will return having heard “yea” from their base, but “whoa” from the rest. Getting outside their DC bubble, House Democrats may realize their case is weak.
Second, more than 50 Democrat seats are in jeopardy during 2020, with more than 30 in districts Trump won in 2016, before his roaring economy. In 13 of these, Trump beat Clinton by six points. Notably, if the GOP wins 20, the House flips.
Third, many House Democrats may realize – looking ahead – that Republicans will call witnesses in the Senate, disrupting the tidy House storyline and highlighting Chairman Schiff’s personal machinations. Once on, the lights will be bright.
In short, untidy bits – heard only in Star Chamber – will get outed. The Democrat’s ends-justify-the-means show will become more obvious. That will be hard to defend, harder than a no vote, next November.
Fourth, with the Republican Senate likely to vote down impeachment, new problems arise. House members must defend a failed effort, and personalities behind it. Already two Democrats have said, no. The question will be: Why didn’t you vote against this nonsense in the House? Every House Democrat will be on the spot.
Fifth, perhaps most stinging, House process was not “due process.” The process used is a nightmare to defend. No credible claim can be made that it was “fair and impartial.” Articles of impeachment were likely long before public hearings.
Moreover, release of Justice’s IG report in early December, paired with Senate Judiciary hearings, will likely suggest the Russia-collusion probe was corrupt, further hurting Democrat credibility.
To that, add likely indictments of some Obama Administration personnel in the now-criminal probe by Justice into origins of the Russia collusion story. All this should give every House Democrat pause.
Nevertheless, political pressure will be hard to resist. While one might imagine there are independent-minded members in both parties, do not count on House Democrats sticking their heads up. Pelosi will sanction those who vote against her.
So, the next likely event will be a House vote – the majority favoring impeachment, even if a few fall off. Big losers in this vote will not be Republicans, not even Donald Trump. The House Speaker, in a clearer time, swore she would only stage an impeachment vote if bipartisan. That plainly is not in the cards.
She knew the process would fail to be bipartisan, which is why she did not start with a chamber vote; she did that only when forced by political pressure. That vote was overwhelmingly partisan, two Democrats joining all Republicans in opposing it.
No, the big losers will be the Democratic Party, torn between ultra-left socialism, and a few wistfully recalling Harry Truman’s Party – now dead. Trump will use this impeachment debacle against his opponent, and House Democrats who jumped into the caldron.
The other big losers will be the American people. Why? Not only has this rabbit hole caused the House not to conference appropriations bills, pass legislation, and support trade, it now hobbles Senate work on all those priorities.
The impeachment also endangers national security, as US adversaries move forward around the globe, and US leaders are distracted, dysfunctional, and viewed as weak.
House Democrats are hobbling Executive operations across government, distracting Defense, State, Homeland Security and Justice with this political trick. Who will pay for that? The American People. Just as we pay for the perception that American democracy is off the rails, our beacon dulled.
Expect an impeachment vote against the President, unless 30 or more members of the Democratic caucus stop it – and retreat to censure. Expect a puffed up, theatrical Senate trial – costly, distracting, politically-inspired, a hate-fest.
The President will likely be acquitted, but our nation will be wounded. Far from Pelosi’s odd claim that “impeachment will unite us,” no such thing will happen.
In the end, Democrats will say they impeached a Republican president, laying a historic marker. Republicans will point out the pointlessness of that exercise. Then, all will face the American people. That is when the real wind tunnel will blow.