The Exasperating Exercise of Folly
Well, I guess I have to write a commentary about the Democratically controlled House of Representatives’ intent to impeach President Trump. I don’t really want to do it. The newsprint, Ethernet cables and airwaves are full of nothing but discussions of the impeachment of President Trump and I don’t really want to add to the cacophony.
I try to write about principles, specifically America’s Founding Principles and how current events or policy proposals can be viewed from the perspective of these principles. It is difficult, if not impossible, to view this impeachment “inquiry” from a principled perspective. It is purely a political event concocted to further incite divisiveness and rancor among Americans. The progressive fixation on impeaching the president no matter the justification and President Trump’s Twitter storm of accusations and insults directed at his accusers appeal only to the hardcore bases, respectively.
If I were a betting man, I would I would be “all-in” that the House of Representatives will impeach President Trump based on whatever charges they can trump up (ha ha). But after collecting my winnings from that bet, I would double-down on the Senate not convicting President Trump. Both votes would be on an almost absolute party-line basis. So what is the expected outcome of the time-consuming and exasperating exercise of folly?
This is all about the 2020 presidential elections. Democrats want to be able to blame the Republicans for not convicting while the Republicans will be blaming the Democrats for impeaching. The extreme wings of each party will punish in the primaries any member not following the strict party line. Campaigns for senator or representative will focus on how incumbents voted and how their opponents would have voted differently. The very real challenges facing our country and its citizens, both domestically and internationally, will get short shrift if they are mentioned at all.
This has little to do with whether President Trump is actually guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors” (whatever that means), treason and bribery being hard to prove. Donald Trump is not a nice man and he has been a disaster as president. But many of our presidents weren’t very nice men. You don’t get to be president by being nice. But not being nice is not an impeachable offense (or is it?).
The Democrats, especially their progressive wing on the left, have been devising innumerable ways to expel President Trump from office since even before his inauguration. They view him as an illegitimate president who lost the popular vote but was propelled in office by the antiquated and anachronistic US Constitution that they also increasingly view as illegitimate (even though it worked precisely as the Founders intended). Unfortunately, many of our leftist celebrities failed to follow up on their promise to leave the country after President Trump’s election, so they have directed their efforts to expelling him from office every time they appear on a late-night comedy show.
When the Mueller probe, that was intended to show that President Trump was in cahoots with Russian President Putin to deny Hillary Clinton of her righteous position as the first female president, fizzled out like wet roman candle on a rainy Fourth of July, they had to go in search of a new reason to expel him from office.
Just like Wikileaks exposed what State Department officials really felt about foreign leaders, the transcript of President Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky exposes how presidents and foreign leaders go about their (sometimes tawdry) business. It wasn’t like he was doing something secret or illegal. Many people, perhaps dozens, were listening in on the conversation, which was how the “whistleblower” got wind of it. It wasn’t like when President Obama, not realizing he had a hot mic, told Russian President Medvedev he could be “more flexible” after the election. That was supposed to be a secret. But President Trump wasn’t trying to be secretive, despite all the rage about the so-called coverup. President Trump did not (and still does not) think he did anything wrong.
And even if President Trump’s motives for asking President Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden are despicable, it is not as if he was asking Zelensky to do something that was against the interests of the Ukraine. It was Joe Biden that intervened in the Ukrainian investigation into the gas company Burisma Holdings where his son Hunter Biden was a highly-paid advisor. The Ukrainian prosecutor at that time, Viktor Shokin, was dragging his feet and considered to be corrupt so he had to go. But with a new Ukrainian president who replaced Shokin’s corrupt boss with a pledge to rebuild the peoples’ trust in government, all President Trump requested Zelesnky to do was to restart the aborted investigation of Burisma.
If a policy initiative or project could only be considered acceptable when the motives of the sponsors are pure, then very little would get done (even though the road to hell would still be well paved). Our political leadership appears to be populated by people that seem to have even more human frailties than the average citizen. This is why it is important to hold public policies to high standards and long-standing principles, because we can never be certain of the motivations of all the people that are sponsoring and supporting such proposals.
The timing of the whistleblower complaint could also be considered suspicious (as long as we are diving deep into conspiracy theories). It would have been better for President Trump if Mr. Biden’s involvement with the Ukraine came out after he had won the Democratic nomination. This premature disclosure could well hurt Mr. Biden just as the all-important caucuses and early primaries come up. It has been said that the whistleblower has Democratic affiliations or leanings. But what if he (or she) didn’t lean toward Biden? Biden’s early departure would clear the way for other candidates to come to the fore. So, even the whistleblowers motives are suspect (or at least unknown).
All of this sleazy panoply will dominate the evening news, the podcasts and the Twittersphere for the coming months even as we gear up for the 2020 elections. The most likely outcome will be the surreal status quo with the left-progressives still foaming at the mouth about President Trump’s illegitimate administration and President Trump responding with a blizzard of tweets bordering on madness excoriating everyone with even the slightest qualm about him or his policies.
But let me paint an alternative outcome for you, however unlikely it may be to occur. Right now, it is an almost lock cinch that the Senate will not convict President Trump and that he will remain in office. But it is always possible that some new evidence or new outrageous scandal will occur that could motivate some of the Republicans in the Senate to vote for a conviction.
The president may have a core of die-hard supporters in the Senate, but I don’t think he has many friends. His bizarre policies, frequent course changes and his Twitter thumbs have alienated many people in his own party. Retirements of Republican elected officials are soaring as incumbents blanch at the thought of having to explain to voters why they support the president’s policies. And these folks (still in office) have nothing to lose and might think that voting to convict would assuage their guilty consciences. It might not take much to tip them over the edge.
If President Trump was impeached and convicted, he would be removed from office (US Constitution, Article II, Section 4) and would be disqualified to running again for office (US Constitution, Article I, Section 3). Thank goodness for that disqualification clause or we would have a real brouhaha, but don’t rule out the possibility of Ivanka or Jared Kushner running as a stalking horse for the ousted president.
Mike Pence would become the new president, and that would change everything about the 2020 presidential elections.
On the Republican side, Pence would probably inherit the Trump reelection machine. But Republican challengers that feared facing the wrath of Trump would not be so afraid of the wrath of Pence. Of course, if these new Republican challengers were too afraid to face the wrath of President Trump, how stalwart do you think they would be against Putin or Xi?
On the Democratic side, a Trump conviction would really take the wind out of Joe Biden’s sails. Biden’s principle campaign assertion is that he is the candidate that is in the best position to defeat Trump. But if Trump is not in the election, what else does he have to offer? Most of the rest of the candidates are way out in left field. And their base will continue stump for a radical leftward change, but they will have lost their ability to demonize their opponent. More centrist Democrats and independents, who aren’t all that thrilled with socialist policies, Medicare for All and wealth confiscation will be less likely to march to the left’s orders if the alternative is someone other than Trump.
Instead of the election being nothing but Trump, Trump, Trump, we might be able to actually discuss issues and try to bridge our differences in a rational way. One can only dream.