Okay, although I don’t know that the GOP needed Democrats’ impeachment of Trump as motivation to impeach a modern Democratic president. I was reminded today that Andy McCarthy of NRO called for impeaching Hillary Clinton preemptively, two months before the 2016 election, in order to bar her from assuming office in case she won.
Levin’s right, though, that more impeachments are in our future as norms of partisan comity decay. Just look at the filibuster: Harry Reid nuked it for non-SCOTUS executive appointees, then McConnell launched a counterstrike by nuking it for SCOTUS too. McConnell roadblocked Merrick Garland’s appointment to fill Scalia’s Court seat, now Democrats are hot to pack the Court or otherwise reform the nomination process so that they somehow get compensation for the seat they lost. It’s a cinch that Schumer will block any Trump nomination to the Court in his second term if Democrats end up with a Senate majority in 2021. Hell, it’s a cinch that whichever party ends up controlling the White House will have its policy agenda derailed in the Senate via the legislative filibuster, unless the majority leader can scrape together 51 votes to nuke that too.
Al Green is already teasing the idea of impeaching Trump again at some point. In a hyperpartisan age where the polls never move very much no matter what either side does, logically there shouldn’t be much downside to casual impeachments. The Ukraine business will probably be a distant memory by March, when we’ll be onto a hundred different other forms of political insanity. In the future impeaching the president will simply be a rite of passage whenever one party or the other regains a majority of the House, something they do to check a box to show their base that there’s a new sheriff in town.
Mark Levin: "The next president who's a Democrat must be impeached" pic.twitter.com/hjAzsrvdwb
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) December 10, 2019
Gotta say, it’s strange timing to demand retaliatory impeachment for the sake of deterrence at a moment when pretty much everyone agrees that impeaching Trump hasn’t done much good for Democrats and might actually cost them in swing districts next fall. If Pelosi loses the House next November, Republicans won’t need to lift a finger to deter future impeachment by Democrats. This experience will supply all the necessary deterrence for the next 50 years. Pelosi herself will be tempted to do a round of “told ya so” interviews afterward given how reluctant she was to move forward on impeaching Trump. I suspect she’d happily pull the plug on impeachment today if she thought she wouldn’t pay a price with her own base for doing so. But she would, so she won’t.
Look at it this way: Thanks to the Senate filibuster, the House doesn’t do much of anything anymore that’s meaningful to governance. Gotta do something with their time. Both the current Democratic House and future Republican ones are destined to spend most of their energy on oversight, and oversight is destined to lead occasionally to impeachment. We’re at the bread-and-circus stage of American decline, so why shouldn’t we have an impeachment circus every four years or so going forward?
Exit question: Who gets hurt more by impeachment, House Democrats or Trump? Watch Brit Hume make the case last night that for all the angst Dems are feeling right now over the polling, impeachment probably does more damage in the long run to the president by fitting him with a stigma and penetrating the public consciousness that he crossed a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. Granted, Republicans lost a few seats in the 1998 midterms en route to impeaching Clinton, but only a few. And meanwhile, as Hume says, Democrats lost the presidency for nearly a decade two years later when Bush 43 ran successfully on restoring honor to the White House. The question with Trump, I suppose, is whether you think impeachment adds something meaningful to voters’ assessments of his character and fitness for office or whether you think all of that’s already priced in. I think it’s priced in no matter what Democrats do on Ukraine but your mileage may vary.