They were hoping for Howitzers blazing. They got a squirt gun. They were hoping for a 45 minute 4th of July fireworks extravaganza accompanied by a 100 piece marching brass band. They got a teenager lighting off a firecracker in his backyard. They were hoping for a decisive televised moment which swayed public opinion (which has already been shifting away from impeachment) to demand that their Congressional representatives act to remove Donald Trump from office under the Constitution terms of impeachment. They got a Mueller who often looked tired and confused, and who by his own admission, did not want to be there.
For all intents and purposes, it is over. This week’s televised Mueller testimony, which quickly fizzled, is the final nail in the coffin of the Trump impeachment effort. Despite the fact that 100 of 235 House Democrats now support impeaching Trump, (at last count), Pelosi has made it clear that a vote is not going to happen.
Why is that?
It seems likely that it has nothing to do with whether or not Pelosi would like to impeach Trump. I suspect that Pelosi would delight in removing Trump from office. However, she is abundantly aware of two realities. First, she does not have public opinion on her side. Second, and more importantly, she has clearly made a political calculation that trying to impeach Trump would backfire spectacularly.
In fact, Jim Geraghty, writing in National Review, suggests that the impeachment effort would be so disastrous, that it would likely cost Democrats the House of Representatives…an outcome that would be nothing short of catastrophic.
Currently betting markets are strongly predicting that the Republicans hold the Senate, while the Democrats keep the House. They are slightly favoring the Democrats to take back the White House as well.
Currently, PredictIt is giving the Democrats a 67% chance to keep the House, and the Republicans a whopping 72% chance to keep the Senate. Trump is given a 47% chance to win reelection.
Geraghty may be overplaying his hand here; nonetheless, even the prospect of the possibility that a failed impeachment effort might change the Democrats’ fortunes so drastically, should be noteworthy.
So, what exactly went wrong for the Democrats?
Moderate New York Democrat Anthony Brindisi summed it up well: “Anyone who was looking for the smoking gun yesterday didn’t get it…It’s time to move on and focus on getting some bills passed here that can get signed into law.”
No, they certainly didn’t. And the bar was set rather high. After all, we have been hearing for nearly three years now, from the usual cast of suspects, that Trump was compromised. He was a traitor to his country. He colluded with the Kremlin and Putin to “steal” the 2016 election. He was a foreign agent who infiltrated American government.
As Matt Taibi put it so well, there is little room for gray here. Either Trump was a compromised, corrupted, treasonous agent working for the Russian government or he wasn’t.
Despite oodles of time and money spent on an investigation, there is still no smoking gun. It is what I, and many others, have been saying for three years now. The people in favor of impeaching Trump didn’t desire to do so because they had evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that would come close to meeting the standard set by the Constitution. They did so because they did not like Trump’s policies, and liked him personally even less. Period.
If you don’t like Trump, then you have the option of the ultimate impeachment. Defeat him at the ballot box in 2020. But don’t concoct some fanciful and preposterous notion about him being an agent of the KGB, working at the behest of Vladimir Putin.
This is it. It is over. Impeachment is not happening. It probably wouldn’t have happened even if Mueller’s “performance” had been marginally or markedly better.
Finally, for those of you who do not believe me, I will leave you with Congressman Adam Schiff’s words on the matter: “We do need to be realistic, and that is, the only way he’s leaving office, at least at this point, is by being voted out, and I think our efforts need to be made in every respect to make sure we turn out our people.”
Translation: Gee, we really were hoping that this Mueller testimony (against his will) would be a turning point and sway public opinion so we could get rid of this pesky Trump once and for all. (We didn’t learn much from the Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton episodes, apparently). However, now that Mueller turned out to be a big dud…we are just going to have to get him out of office the good ol’ fashioned way: at the ballot box. All hands on deck! Time to head to Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin!