Until the House presents impeachment articles to the Senate, high theater will attach itself to the topic – but that does not mean Americans will be gripped by it. The Democrats who voted for impeachment articles are likely to find it harder to defend their actions as time passes. An increasingly disinterested, unconvinced, incredulous American public is tired of being played, tired of the B-movie.
Whether House Democrats are awaiting federal rulings to permit more hearings, clandestinely collecting information for more articles, lobbying Senate Republicans to vote for impeachment, or wanting to hold weak articles for a Democrat-controlled Senate in 2021, time is not on their side.
Here’s why. The longer the impeachment debacle continues – particularly at a dangerous time in world affairs and national security, and with a roaring US economy – the sillier, more contrived, and more unpardonably partisan the endeavor looks.
If the Democratic leadership’s goal is to hold more hearings, three factors should give them pause. First, the longer House hearings go, the more abjectly partisan they look. Second, as the hearings progressed, polls increasingly showed moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, and independents tipping against impeachment. Finally, having more Democrat-selected witnesses only makes Senate Republicans more likely to subpoena devastating witnesses – including Congressman Schiff and the two Bidens.
Time is also against the Democrats, because the Department of Justice has a criminal investigation in full swing. That investigation may dramatically alter underlying facts surrounding the initial Russia collusion probe. That would undermine the abuse and “obstruction of Congress” articles, since anyone has a right to resist an unjust probe. If charges end up being brought against Obama administration officials, not to mention either Biden, all bets are off. White House defenses proliferate, and impeachment becomes an empty vessel.
Third, time is not on Democrats’ side if they hope to flip the Senate in the 2020 election, re-pass articles of impeachment, and whip a conviction. If Democrats’ hands are full now, imagine trying to shoehorn a second impeachment – after a second Trump win. The nation – or much of it, anyway – would revolt. The shine would be off the apple, revealing partisanship so obvious that some Democrats might realign with the Republicans.
Consider one more fact. The longer Democrats play partisan games with this seldom-used provision of the Constitution, the more centrist Democrats will fall away, making Democratic chances of regaining control of the Senate more unlikely.
The B-movie just drags on. Americans are sick of this adolescent behavior from Congress, even if they think the president imperfect. They are increasingly embarrassed at the loss of seriousness and the playacting in the breach. Americans are not stupid – they see it all: trained lawyers acting like political patsies, self-aggrandizing lawyers and witnesses, all on the taxpayers’ nickel.
Now, as the world turns, President Trump is wrestling real life-and-death issues – on foreign policy, national security and pending economic questions. In the end, as many surmised months ago, this impeachment gambit is proving one of the Democrats’ worst choices in generations.
House Democrats may have had stardom in their eyes, but the lights are dimming – and Americans are tired of this ill-conceived, badly scripted and poorly acted B-movie. America seems to be past the drama’s apex, past the tipping point, past the moment when most Americans were paying attention, let alone interested in a contrived, self-serving controversy.
Here’s the kicker. Heartland America is smarter, faster and more instinctively on cue, in tune and engaged than Washington – and certainly more so than Washington thinks. In this case, many moderate Republicans, Democrats, and independents saw this coming. They saw the error of all-consuming politics, hate-based partisanship, hoopla and myopia. They may not walk marble steps or relax in lofty offices, and they may not have brass doorplates, corner offices or a big budget for hearings, but they know what is real. They are over impeachment, even if House Democrats are still banking on it. Best move – get on with governing. Give up the B-movie.