What we now call the Blogosphere – formerly the “news-wire” – is abuzz with predictions that Democrats will “impeach” Mr. Trump when they win back the House and Senate this year. By this, partisan prophets mean that they expect to boot the (hated) Donald out of office and restore the country to what they consider normalcy. Impeachment, is, of course, merely the indictment part of a lengthy process – but never mind the details.
In polite society it’s not considered good form to say someone is “delusional” – at least, not out loud. But in this case I’ll violate protocol by saying it about Dems, their media pals, and far too many Republicans. They are delusional on at least two counts:
Turning the Congress in ’18. Democrats have been loudly trumpeting this as gospel because: (1) they assume that everyone hates Donald Trump as much as they do; and (2) they fervently believe that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will prove that Mr. Trump and Russian agents colluded to steal the 2016 election. It’s a sure thing: absolutely in the bag; just a matter of time. So far, however, Mr. Mueller and his team have spent $7 million of the taxpayers’ money to produce not a scintilla of evidence proving that such collusion occurred. Obersturmbahnführer Mueller has taken the scalps of Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former advisor, and a couple of minor players (including one unpaid campaign volunteer) on charges unrelated to the investigation’s principal focus, but so far the expected mother lode of evidence for the impeachment extravaganza of the century has not appeared.
Dems believe the collusion-evidence will turn public opinion their way and sweep their candidates to overwhelming victories in the November elections. The truest believers anticipate winning majorities that will enable both impeachment of the president (by a simple majority) in the House and conviction (by two-thirds majority) in the Senate. The main problem with this optimistic prospect is that basing their entire campaign strategy on dramatic new evidence is a high stakes gamble which shows no signs of paying off. Absent that evidence, the party has no platform except “We’re Not Trump.” More than ever, the ancient political wisdom that “you can’t beat somebody with nobody” applies here.
Realizing that the collusion-plan might not pan out, Democrat strategists have launched an ambitious new smear-campaign against Mr. Trump. Their latest salvo is the “tell-all” book, Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, which purports to show Mr. Trump’s mental unfitness for his office: i.e., he doesn’t read anything; he has no attention span; he’s stupid; he’s unpredictable; he’s paranoid; he’s certifiably nuts; etc. The book has evoked a furious response from Mr. Trump and his supporters, who have called it a “fake book.” Indeed, its radical claims are already unraveling. The smear-strategy didn’t work during the election, so other than serving as a temporary distraction its effect on the political dynamics of 2018 is highly questionable. (In Big Al’s words: “You got nah-thing!”)
Perhaps realizing that the collusion and “We’re Not Trump” strategies for 2018 will flop, Democrats’ now see a bright new ray of hope for the 2020 presidential election in the person of zillionaire TV-star Oprah Winfrey. Her boffo speech at the Golden Globe awards on January 7th has evoked ecstatic praise from libs. (Wags said there wasn’t a dry seat in the place.) Chock-full of emotional references to race and gender, and gushing praise for those valiant defenders of truth – i.e., the liberal Media – Ms. Winfrey struck every possible chord that resonates in Democrat hearts. A successful black woman for president! May the gods be praised! She’ll win in a walk. (But I wouldn’t bet on Oprah giving up her $75 million salary in exchange for having her entire past love-life dug up and raked over.)
Impeachment and Conviction. Assuming for the sake of argument that Democrats do regain control of both the House and Senate, how likely is it that their master plan of removing President Trump can succeed? Lessons from history are instructive on that question. Two past presidents were impeached by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” as specified by Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for disobeying Congress’s Tenure of Office Act, which enjoined the president from replacing any of Lincoln’s cabinet secretaries without Congressional approval. The act clearly exceeded Congress’s authority, but the Radical Republicans went ahead nonetheless. Their attempt to remove Mr. Johnson failed, however, by a vote of 35-19 – a single vote less than the 2/3-majority required of the Senate for conviction and removal. Senator George Vickers (D-MD) arose from his sickbed to save the president by adding his vote to the “not guilty” column.
In 1998 a Republican-controlled House impeached President Bill Clinton for perjury and witness-tampering he had committed in connection with an Arkansas trial, before he was president. The truth of the charges was beyond doubt. Republicans held a 55-45 majority in the Senate, but they failed to convict Mr. Clinton by a 50-50 vote on the witness-tampering charge, and by a 45-50 vote on the perjury charge. No Democrats voted against the president on either charge.
Many political commentators (including Yours Truly) have noted that any ordinary citizen would have been jailed on either charge. But, of course, Mr. Clinton was not an “ordinary” citizen. If nothing else, the case demonstrated the extreme difficulty of removing a president, even when he is clearly guilty as charged. I am not the first to call impeachment “a worthless remedy.” Booting a president is practically impossible, as the Founders obviously meant it to be. I venture to say that even treason wouldn’t do it (although stealing the White House coffee supplies might tip the boat over).
Richard Nixon is Democrats’ Exhibit A on how to oust a president. The Watergate scandal caused Mr. Nixon to resign before a Democrat-controlled House could impeach him, but dedicated Nixon-haters were certain that they would have convicted him for ordering the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters and for lying to the American people – the latter charge repeated ad nauseum by reporters and pols, as if no president had ever lied.
This writer, however, has never believed that the impeachment-conviction scenario was the slam-dunk many Dems thought it was. Mr. Nixon was asked to resign by several senators of his own party who probably didn’t want to go on record in a Senate-trial – either by voting to keep an unpopular “liar” in office or by betraying his own party with a vote to convict. Mr. Nixon spared them, the country, and himself the agony of that trial by falling on his sword.
As we saw in 1998, Democrats have no problem supporting their party’s president, even if he is a liar and a midnight-rambler. Would enough Republican senators have crossed over to convict Mr. Nixon? We’ll never know, but I doubt it. Posturing for the cameras is one thing. Party-disloyalty is another.
Living in a dream-world can be wonderfully comfy and cozy, until reality finally intrudes. As Mr. Trump’s accomplishments grow, public confidence in his leadership blossoms, and the country’s economy booms to new heights, the likelihood increases that Democrats’ dreams of a Trump-less Washington will get a nasty dash of cold water next November and in 2020. Until then, may they continue to heed the soothing words of Kaa:
“Ssslip into sssilent ssslumber, sssail on a sssilver missst.
Ssslowly and surely your ssensesss will ceasssse to exisssst…”
(From Disney’s Jungle Book.)
Trussst in me…