After conducting considerable research and engaging in some thoughtful introspection, I’ve decided Donald Trump indeed has committed an impeachable offense. However, it might not be the impeachable offense that first comes to the reader’s mind. More on that later.
For now, let’s exhale and take stock of all that’s happened the past couple of weeks in the lower chamber of the national legislature. After Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gave her blessing, the House Intelligence Committee conducted secret hearings in the basement of the building under rules formulated by its chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca). Schiff cherry-picked the witnesses to be called and limited the questions they could be asked, retaining the right to cut off cross-examination by his Republican colleagues (which by reports he frequently did). He then conducted televised public hearings, calling only those witnesses from the secret hearings he felt would buttress the case the Democrats were trying to build — that the president conducted a quid pro quo arrangement with the Ukrainian president to withhold military aid in exchange for investigations into corruption that included Joe Biden’s son.
The inquiry started off with strong public support — almost 50 percent of those polled favored impeachment and removal from office. But as the televised portion of the probe unfolded, it became apparent the Democrats, and Schiff in particular, had overplayed their hand. Schiff came off as an imperious and self-serving version of Inspector Clouseau, and the “witnesses” turned out to have witnessed not much of anything, as their frequent use of the terms “I don’t know,” “I was not present” and “I heard” revealed. With a national audience watching, Schiff was forced to don the fig leaf of impartiality and yield to Republicans, who proved adept at demonstrating how far removed these individuals were from the circumstances of the alleged “crime.” And those called to testify didn’t help their own cause with speaking styles that would, if packaged and marketed, serve as effective sleep aids.
By the end of the second week of hearings, opinion polls started to shift. Support for impeachment among independent voters dropped 15 percentage points, and even 25 percent of Democrats thought it was now a “bad idea.” With the next phase of the process moving to the House Judiciary Committee and its colorless and semi-competent chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY), it’s unlikely to get much better for the Schiff-Pelosi forces. By contrast, the president’s approval ratings have gone up, his fundraising is through the roof, and he’s polling ahead of all potential Democratic presidential rivals in the battleground state of Wisconsin. With her narrative collapsing, Ms. Pelosi faces a difficult choice — move ahead with a baldly partisan impeachment supported by little to no evidence, or resort to a slap-on-the-wrist censure vote that would enrage the lunatic element of her caucus. Stuck in the crossfire are the 30 or so Democrats who were elected last year in districts Trump carried in 2016. On top of that, Senate Republicans have promised a full-blown trial if that body is presented with impeachment articles. We’ll be treated to the spectacle of Schiff, Eric Ciaramella and possibly Joe Biden being forced to testify under oath on national television and asked questions that’ll not only be very uncomfortable but perhaps put them in legal jeopardy. It won’t be pretty.
Perhaps Democrats had no choice. As was mentioned in this space two months ago, they’re all too aware any level of African-American support for Donald Trump above 13 percent in 2020 will guarantee his re-election. According to two polls taken in recent days, Trump’s approval rating among African-Americans is 34 percent. A full-employment non-wartime economy creating more jobs than workers (leading to higher wages) might have something to do with that. It appears many black voters have tired of Democrats talking the talk and taking them for granted, only bothering to show up in the black churches in an election year, groveling for votes. They now see a fellow who, for all his personal foibles and imperfections, is walking the walk that’s been promised but not delivered for way too long.
So, yes, it’s obvious the president’s committed an impeachable offense. The very insightful columnist Holman Jenkins recently let everyone in on the secret. Trump’s offense? Winning the 2016 election. That alone constitutes a “crime and misdemeanor” that’s plenty high enough for our friends on the left. In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve been trying to get rid of him, six ways to Sunday, ever since.
I can’t help but draw a comparison to the cartoon world. The Democrats are Wile E. Coyote. And Trump is the Roadrunner.