First it was COLLUSION! Can you believe it? Trump was colluding with the Russians to steal the election from its rightful owner, H.R. Clinton. For a brief and shining moment, ‘collusion’ filled the airwaves and cyberspace. The president of the United States was colluding with Vladimir Putin, whose puppet he was. John Brennan, the excitable talking head who somehow became director of the CIA despite voting for Gus Hall, perpetual candidate for the US presidency on the Communist ticket, declared that Trump’s behavior was ‘nothing short of treasonous.’ Yikes.
That show had a good run, almost two years. But it collapsed like an abused soufflé after Robert Mueller’s expensive fishing expedition failed to hook any fish, at least any implicating the president in wrongdoing, to say nothing of treasonous wrong doing. Mueller’s pathetic performance before Congress probably counts as a form of elder abuse. This was supposed to be the spectacle that delivered the coup de grâce to the impossible orange man. Instead, it was a demonstration of the liabilities of senile incapacity. We spent $34 million for this?
But this is not a normal world, it is our world, one in which such Soviet style of justice — show me the man and I will show you the crime — applies to anything involving Donald Trump. Still, though the animus remained, ‘collusion’ had to be retired.
Next up was Ukraine and a supposed ‘quid pro quo’. Repetitio mater memoriae: for a couple of weeks, the blank spot in the media’s script that had been occupied by ‘collusion’ now featured this new tort: Trump promised to give the Ukrainian president something in exchange for something. Exactly what those somethings were was a vague and shifting series of conjectures, undercut by denials on the part of all the principals that anything was offered for anything.
But those declarations were made only by the president of the United States, the president of Ukraine, and everyone with first-hand knowledge of what transpired between them. Water carriers who worked down the hall and who hated Trump knew better, as did such skirling inmates of our new Bedlam as Max Boot, Bill Kristol, and other superannuated officers of this coven of cranks.
Somehow, though, ‘quid pro quo’ never really caught on. The public yawned when they heard about it, possibly because they were insufficiently impressed by the Latin phrase, possibly because a moment’s inquiry told them that this was another Oakland of Offenses: there was just nothing there. In talking to President Zelensky, Trump was just doing his job.
The Democrats sensed this, so they quietly retired ‘quid pro quo’ and sent up a trial balloon called ‘bribery’. At least ‘bribery’ is mentioned in Article II of the Constitution as a ground for impeaching the president. Maybe what Trump was doing was offering the Ukrainian president a bribe? Let’s run that up the flag pole and see who salutes.
The trouble is, everyone knows what a bribe is. And Trump clearly did not offer or accept any bribes. Everyone could see that, even, I suspect, the lachrymose Adam Schiff whose last desperate gambit was to say that Trump’s offer of a White House meeting to Zelensky was a bribe.
It was left to Jerry Nadler, the Oliver Hardy to Adam Schiff’s Stan Laurel, to try, try again by kicking off the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment witch hunt yesterday with the charge that the president was guilty of abusing the power of his office.
In one way, it was a clever gambit. As everybody is repeating these days, impeachment is a political, not strictly a legal, process. No actual crime need be adduced. Andrew C. McCarthy laid out all this in his superlative book Faithless Execution. The Founders saw impeachment as a last-gasp measure, a sort of Senatus Consultum Ultimum, to be employed when, and only when, someone has lost the trust of the people by truly egregious behavior.
At the moment, Donald Trump is presiding over the most robust economy the US has seen in decades. Unemployment, especially minority unemployment is at historic lows. Wages, especially at the lower end, are rising. Consumer confidence is high. We are at peace. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is something like 90 percent. His support among Blacks and Hispanics is rising. As James Piereson recently pointed out, it is well nigh impossible to impeach a president in such circumstances.
The Democrats’ latest strategy — will they finally pack it in once, it, too, fails? — is to deliberately confuse the use of power, which is something Trump, like every president, does, with the abuse of power, which is something else and something for which we have no evidence.
The effort to impeach and remove Donald Trump from office was always a fool’s errand. Whatever plausibility the Mueller investigation had because of the majesty of the legal establishment was long ago dissipated by the obviously partisan contrivances of the Democratic establishment. Schiff and Nadler have been reduced to playing word games to keep this pathetic clown show going. No one outside their partisan bubble believes them; fewer and fewer people are even paying attention. The public was already exasperated by the Adam Schiff Show a couple of weeks back. Nadler’s afternoon reprise is playing to an equivalent of supper theater on the second stage in Dubuque, Iowa.
No one cares what Jerry Nadler says — or, rather, they are irritated by it and by him. Were this a reality TV show, the resounding verdict would be ‘You’re fired.’