Hillary got 65 million votes three years ago, so congrats to progressives on getting the left-most 15 percent or so of her base to affirm once again, in writing this time, that they are very much onboard with impeaching the president.
As if to underline that the urge to impeach has less to do with obstruction of justice or stonewalling congressional subpoenas than with general contempt for Trump, it was Rashida Tlaib who formally accepted the signatures today from lefty groups. Tlaib distinguished herself on her first day in Congress by vowing to “impeach the motherf***er,” months before Mueller’s findings were in or House committees had begun their investigations. The specific grounds, in other words, irrelevant. This is Resistance theater, with impeachment the ultimate form of resistance.
And to the extent that anyone in Washington was intimidated by this, it wasn’t Trump. The White House sounds very comfortable with the idea of an impeachment push in the House, after all:
As the White House and Congress escalate their constitutional showdown, President Trump and his team are essentially trying to call what they see as the Democrats’ bluff. The message: Put up or shut up. Impeach or move on.
Confident that there are not enough votes to remove him from office through an impeachment trial in the Senate, Mr. Trump and his advisers have chosen the path of maximum resistance, calculating that they can put the Democrats on the defensive in a fight that is politically useful for the president…
“He’s feeling that, except for a couple of these people, that most people are ready to move on,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that Democrats could lose 30 to 40 seats in the House if they try to impeach Mr. Trump. “Part of the strategy is to flush them out, and part of it is also a calculation that the public really isn’t particularly interested in this anymore and that they’re going to look bad by fighting it.”
Trump doesn’t care about Tlaib’s latest reminder that the country’s most progressive voters loathe him and want him out ASAP. Pelosi might care. She seems more wary of impeachment than the president does and lefties are starting to notice. Michelle Goldberg’s piece in the Times today makes me think I was right yesterday in suspecting that House Dems’ windbaggery about a “constitutional crisis” will backfire on them, inciting the left instead of placating them by offering a subpoena fight in court in lieu of an impeachment battle. Goldberg:
Pelosi is a sharp and pragmatic woman, and her evident belief that impeachment carries strategic risks for Democrats should be taken seriously. But it is incoherent to argue that Trump constitutes an existential threat to the Constitution, and that Congress should wait to use the Constitution’s primary defense against such a threat. Democratic fear of divisiveness — even as Republicans gleefully embrace it — is leading to unilateral political disarmament…
In the face of an administration that is trying to amass dictatorial powers, Democrats need to bring to bear all the powers of their own. Trump’s outright rejection of congressional authority makes impeachment proceedings necessary, but even impeachment alone is not sufficient.
She ends up endorsing “inherent contempt,” i.e. Congress’s power to jail officials who don’t comply with subpoenas. Congrats to Pelosi and Nadler on trying to ease the pressure on them to impeach by maneuvering lefties into now believing that nothing short of impeachment plus imprisonment for the bad guys will do.
Support for impeachment is up modestly this month according to Reuters, rising five points to 45 percent, but (a) other recent polls have it much lower and (b) nothing short of strong majority approval’s going to reassure Pelosi that this won’t backfire electorally. Even if impeachment rose tomorrow to 60 percent, she’d probably cite that as all the more reason to skip impeachment and let voters deal with Trump next fall. “If 60 percent want him out, why not make sure he’s the GOP nominee next year by leaving him in place? We might not be able to beat Pence as easily as we’ll beat Trump!”
For now, though, she has the right *and* left hooting at her that she doesn’t have the guts to impeach. Better figure out a solution. That can’t go on for 18 months.