Today officially begins the case for Mike Judge’s masterpiece comedy Idiocracy as a documentary film, as the Chuck Schumer-led Democrat Senate majority assaults the impregnable hill that is the impeachment of a former president. Or, if you prefer, the Peach Mint Insurrection begins today.
The American Spectator’s Daniel J. Flynn properly classifies this exercise in unmitigated stupidity in his morning e-mail blast today…
The Politics of Catharsis
Three-hundred-and-sixty years ago, Englishmen exhumed Oliver Cromwell and subjected his corpse to posthumous execution. His countrymen hung the body before decapitating its head, which they displayed on a spike for several decades. Something similar occurs with the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, who continues to serve as a punching bag but not as president. What occurs today may prove therapeutic for left-wing Democrats, who surely could use therapy. But it certainly fails, an outcome that normally persuades non-fanatics to forgo a costly quest. And it does so at the expense of Joe Biden’s agenda, which becomes harder to pass as each day of his presidency tears away from the calendar. Who spends their honeymoon cutting out the eyeballs of their ex in the photo album? The point of impeaching a former president? Catharsis. A ghost of Democrats past felt your pain. His forebears feel their own pain. They seek to exorcize it today. Maybe a psychiatrist’s office rather than the Senate chamber better hosts such an endeavor.
Flynn is correct: this is catharsis, and nothing more.
You can make an argument that this is constructive politics for the Democrats, in that it’s aimed at picking off the stupid and the weak among the GOP’s Senate caucus; if there are any Republicans who vote for impeachment, some 90 percent of the party’s voters – both nationally and back home in the states which elected them – will swear revenge and never vote for them again.
The problem with that is the Lisa Murkowskis, Mitt Romneys, Rob Portmans and Pat Toomeys of the world are almost surely going to be replaced not by Democrats but by MAGA Republicans when their seats come up for re-election. In the case of Portman and Toomey that will be next fall, and it’s an excellent bet their successors will be of the Jim Jordan-Mike Kelly variety if not Jordan and Kelly themselves.
And this is if the Peach Mint Insurrection actually produces any Republican votes.
The problem with this impeachment trial isn’t just that it’s blatantly unconstitutional. You can’t impeach a private citizen, which is what Trump is now. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has refused to preside over the trial for that reason, and Roberts’ absence itself puts the trial outside the lines of the Constitution. They’re replaced Roberts with Pat Leahy, the decrepit Senator from Vermont, who has already voiced his support for Trump’s impeachment, as presiding judge. Having a juror as judge, and a juror who has prejudged the case at that, is the very definition of a kangaroo court and a show trial. It violates every tenet of due process in American jurisprudence.
No. While those problems are fatal in themselves, what’s even worse for the Democrats is that from an evidentiary standpoint the case against Trump is absolutely false. The charge that Trump incited an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 fails utterly under the weight of the evidence.
We know from evidence the FBI has collected that the breach of the Capitol was pre-planned. We also know it had begun before Trump said anything about going to the Capitol, if not even before Trump began speaking outside of the White House a 45-minute walk away.
We also know that Trump told the demonstrators at the Stop The Steal Rally to peaceably protest, not to riot.
If the charge is that by addressing the protesters at all Trump incited a riot, that isn’t going to persuade anyone. Particularly when the defense offers up the countless times Democrat politicians have, with specificity and verve, exhorted their supporters to violence. This trial will absolutely expose the hypocrisy and bad faith of that party – and Chuck Schumer himself. After all, there was this..
The presentation of evidence in this trial is going to give the weaker Republican senators an out. They’re going to be able to say that while they agree that Orange Man Bad, based on the evidence he’s not guilty of inciting an insurrection. And that could well produce a 50-50 vote on party lines, something which would be an unimaginable disaster for Schumer and his party.
But in all of this, something is getting lost. You’ll pick that something up if you have a look at the Senate’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell during the proceedings.
McConnell is going to have a big smile on his face throughout. And it’s not because McConnell wants to vote for Trump’s impeachment.
No, McConnell isn’t any particular ally of Trump’s. One gets the impression McConnell is happy to be rid of Trump, as he’s now arguably the most powerful Republican politician in America (though certainly not the most popular or influential among the American people).
What McConnell is, though, is a player of angles and a strategist. And Mitch McConnell knows something Chuck Schumer and his merry band of would-be lynchers apparently don’t.
Namely, that time spent on Peach Mints is time not spent on passing a legislative agenda. While the American people are not, by the way, particularly happy with the behavior of the political class in the first place.
Mitch McConnell would love to keep this trial going for six months if he could, and have it bottle up the Senate entirely. Because while the Senate is wasting its time on an unconstitutional and ineffectual impeachment of an ex-president and private citizen, the Senate isn’t passing a $15 minimum wage. Or the Green New Deal. Or Medicaid For All. Or any of the other ridiculous and destructive items in the Democrats’ platform and agenda.
So long as that trial continues, McConnell can do his job without doing anything. He doesn’t have to rally votes against any of those stupid bills, and he doesn’t have to organize filibusters. He can just sit and smile.
No president worth his salt would waste the first 100 days of his presidency the way Joe Biden is currently doing running an impeachment spectacle which clearly fails on every measure. But Joe Biden himself clearly fails on every measure, and so do his former Senate Democrat colleagues.
There will be a terrible political cost to this idiocy. It will be paid next fall and in the special elections leading up to November 2022. Biden is sacrificing his presidency to what Flynn rightly identifies as catharsis for DC politicians, and the American people will not be amused. When that catharsis results in fewer votes to impeach than needed, if not a wholly partisan final vote after an embarrassment of a trial, and it washes away, what then?