Here we go again, in more ways than one. Prepare to have your time wasted again, but this time, it appears to be the Democrats who are prepared to hit the chicken switch.
The first impeachment of Donald Trump was an empty, rushed and preordained affair. House Democrats had just captured the majority, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew a large swath of her caucus would erupt into discordant rebellion if the strident calls to impeach a rogue, renegade president were not heeded… and so they were, full in the knowledge that the effort was doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate. The trial after the impeachment came off like a junior high school theater club doing a read-through of Our Town, and it ended with Trump’s acquittal to the absolute surprise of nobody.
Flash forward 13 months to the afternoon of January 6, when the U.S. Capitol building looked as if it was under assault by a swarming army of red ants. Hours before, Trump had whipped his people into a frenzy and aimed them deliberately at the seat of Congress, where his final defeat at the hands of President Joe Biden was being certified.
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The mob came closer to toppling a branch of the federal government than anyone knew that day, but as the details seeped out along with the video imagery, it became clear that many in that raid had come for blood. Stunned members of Congress told harrowing tales of near misses and close calls, everyone knew this had been Trump’s people doing his specific bidding, and the roar for a second impeachment became a thunder upon the land.
Trump was impeached again in about as much time as it takes to boil an egg, legislatively speaking, and 10 House Republicans joined the majority. Among them was Liz Cheney, the House Republican conference chair and a senior leader of the party. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not vote to impeach but said that Trump was “responsible” for the perilous events of January 6. These two defections from the code of absolute loyalty have left Trump seething down in Florida ever since.
The basis for the charges in the first impeachment trial were profound in scope and import, but by any reasonable metric, the charges this second time are more serious by orders of magnitude. “Incitement to Insurrection” is what they would have charged Confederate President Jefferson Davis with, had they ever brought him to trial: A sitting president incited a mob to violent action in the hope of overturning a fairly held election so he could remain in power. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer who was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher by a Trump supporter.
A little more than a month has passed since that chaotic, lethal day. In that time, it appears the old ways of doing things on the Democratic side of the aisle have reasserted themselves. Instead of a trial showing all the available damning evidence of what took place that day and who is responsible, Democratic congressional leadership — with the blessing of President Biden — appears poised to allow another impeachment rush job just to get it over with, because the Republicans are unhappy. From Politico:
Democrats who’ve struggled for years to hold DONALD TRUMP accountable are at a crossroads again: Do they go all out to convict Trump by calling a parade of witnesses to testify to his misdeeds? Or do they concede it’s a lost cause, finish the trial ASAP — and get on with President JOE BIDEN’S agenda? Several of the House impeachment managers wanted firsthand testimony to help prove their case that Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot, our sources tell us. But Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER, Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Biden administration officials have been eager for the process to move quickly, we’re told.
It’s been a source of frustration for some Democrats privately. Trump, these people have noticed, is already on the rebound politically, at least among Republicans. The GOP base has rallied to his defense, and many Republican lawmakers who witnessed the terror of the Capitol invasion are back in Trump’s corner. Schumer and other Senate Democrats argue, however, that they don’t necessarily need witnesses since Trump’s crimes were in plain sight and documented in videos and tweets. Privately, senior Democrats also note that 45 Senate Republicans have already decided they think the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, so why bother dragging this out?
It has reached the point where you can set your watch to these Democratic waffles slithering off the griddle just when things get hot. “Why bother dragging this out?” That such a question is even being contemplated speaks volumes about how and why this nation has gotten so far down in the ditch.
You fight the fight because the fight is worth fighting. You act out of hope in more than just the outcome, because the effort yields its own rewards. You shout down hypocrisy for the sake of the truth, period. If 45 GOP senators have incorrectly decided to hang their hat on a flawed constitutional defense, bring witnesses like influential Republican lawyer Charles J. Cooper to shoot down the argument. Better yet: Let Trump shoot it down himself.
“I am here to tell you, dude does not agree that he is a former president, and he is not allowing anyone to describe him that way,” explained MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week. “If that’s the trap door they’re going to use to try to get him out of a Senate impeachment conviction, he’s going to fight it. He insists he cannot be called a former president. He must be called the 45th president. He’s still using the presidential seal. There’s no sign that he concedes that there’s now a 46th president, and so he’s an ex. I mean, how many ticks are we away from him claiming that he is still in office, that he still has the powers of the presidency? That he’s rightfully still president?”
That alone would be worth the price of admission. Make those 45 Republicans who cannot imagine a world without Trump calling the shots sit through days of video and personal testimony describing a world with Trump calling the shots. Rub their noses in it like bad puppies, rub the nation’s nose in it, and if they still won’t act in the best interests of the nation, carve their names in stone and wait for 2022.
But no. The Ents running the Democratic Party — Schumer, Pelosi and Biden — have opted once again for the bended knee in the flabby name of expediency. The impeachment trial will be a sham, and when it is done, all those congresspeople will head home through the war zone barricades that now drape the nation’s capital. You’d think they might notice all that and act on it; you’d think they’d remember that they were in the building and targets for violence a month ago, but that is not how we do things. I can’t remember the last time it was.