Perhaps Nancy Pelosi should consider opening up an Impeachment Denial Office on Capitol Hill, as her caucus seems determined to threaten it for pretty much anything. Several Democratic presidential candidates demanded the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh over a badly reported smear job at the New York Times, and a few of Pelosi’s colleagues jumped on that bandwagon. By yesterday afternoon, however, the backfire was evident enough for Pelosi to put her foot down:

House Democratic leaders and rank-and-file members are dismissing calls to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, with some arguing the House has limited investigative resources and others saying it is a politically toxic issue.

Asked on Tuesday night if she sees the House spending any time on the Kavanaugh matter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded with a simple “no.”

Momentum appears to have significantly shifted as the Times’ Kavanaugh reporting has fallen apart under scrutiny, and Democratic leadership has belatedly come to grips with it. The Senate’s number-two Democrat Dick Durbin lamented that his fellow Democrats seem obsessed with the idea of impeachment. He warned about the impression such “knee-jerk” reactions leaves with voters:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate minority whip and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Republicans love hearing Democrats talk about impeachment and warned his party against an “unrealistic,” “knee-jerk reaction.”

“The notion of an impeachment, to me, is unrealistic and the fact that we would divert ourselves from other issues for that purpose makes no sense,” he said. “It’s become a knee-jerk reaction among many Democrats.”

Sheldon Whitehouse, last seen delving deeply into the etymology of the word “boof” and teenage slang for sex, lamented the jump to prosecution ahead of actual evidence:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned that House Democrats pushing for impeachment were getting ahead of themselves.

“We seem to have a habit of wanting to get to the verdict before we’ve gathered the evidence. I don’t, as a former prosecutor, approve of that habit,” he said.

Hmmm. That’s quite the turnaround from Whitehouse’s conclusion-jumping about teenage entries in high-school yearbooks from 40 years ago. As a former prosecutor, has he finally figured out the difference between “boof” and “boff” yet in 1970s/1980s teen slang?

This sudden realization about the potential dangers of impeachment fever haven’t quite registered yet with one of its most significant sufferers. Politico reports that a schism has begun opening between Pelosi and House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler over his attempts to cast his inquiries as a formal impeachment process, a split which came out in the open at a private caucus meeting last week. Pelosi has grown so frustrated that she explicitly told members to leak it to the press:

In a closed-door meeting last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi stunned lawmakers and aides with a swipe at Democratic staff on the House Judiciary Committee.

Pelosi criticized the panel’s handling of impeachment in harsh terms, complaining committee aides have advanced the push for ousting President Donald Trump far beyond where the House Democratic Caucus stands. Democrats simply don’t have the votes on the floor to impeach Trump, Pelosi said.

“And you can feel free to leak this,” Pelosi added, according to multiple people in the room. Pelosi’s office declined to comment on the meeting. …

Both Pelosi and Nadler, who have served in the House together for more than 25 years, insist their relationship remains strong. But their rift over impeachment is getting harder and harder to paper over amid Democrats’ flailing messaging on the topic and a growing divide in the caucus.

Pelosi’s smart enough to realize that the rhetorical stampede toward impeaching Kavanaugh over the weekend compromised the argument for impeaching Trump. As Durbin warned, Democrats now look like utter political nihilists, not good-government activists, attempting to oust anyone who opposes them regardless of elections or process. They have become a pitchfork and torch mob, not a governing party. The longer that goes on, the tougher it will be for them to hold the ground they gained in 2018 and avoid the same backlash Republicans got in 1998.