Chuck Todd: We asked voters about impeachment ... because we had to

This amusing moment from yesterday’s Meet the Press should not go without comment. NBC host Chuck Todd and his guests discussed the Beltway obsession over Ukraine-Gate, in the middle of which Todd threw to this short clip of voter interest in the topic. “We had to bring it up to them,” Todd remarks to Helene Cooper and Tom Brokaw with some amusement, and notes afterward that these were voters “in the early states”:

CHUCK TODD: We went out and tried to find some voters, guys, to talk about impeachment. We had bring it up to them. Here’s what they told us.

JIM BAIRD: And I think it’s a waste time and they’re a bunch of little kids fighting and not accomplishing what the hell they’re elected for.

GRAY CHYNOWETH: And I think we have a system of checks and balances. And the way it should work is that, you know, the House and the Senate should do what is set out in the Constitution.

TRACY VEILLETTE: I read the document and there was absolutely nothing concerning to me from one president to another. It was absolutely appropriate.

CHUCK TODD: Helene, there were in the early states.

Cooper responded with what sounds a bit like the Pauline Kael argument, in the discussion that followed the end of this clip:

HELENE COOPER: Yeah. Yeah, they are. But I wonder who are all the voters that you’re talking to because I’m so inundated. Everybody, whenever anybody finds out I’m a reporter, all they want to ask me about is impeachment and what’s going to happen. So it’s like — I just wonder at just, you know, you could’ve gotten like, ten other people saying something completely different. It is, it is not as cacophonous out there in the rest of the country as it is here in Washington or in the big cities, I would imagine, but it’s still, I sort of think that it’s still, it’s still starting to rise.

Actually, it’s not “starting to rise” — it has leveled off at the extreme ends of the partisan divide, and that’s among people who care. For everyone else, this looks more like a continuation of the same old Democratic/Beltway establishment war against Donald Trump, and they’re just not interested. Brokaw thinks that open hearings might change that:

TOM BROKAW: I think with all of this communication that we have going on now, Chuck, the gap between who we are, where we work and what we have to say and the rest of the country — in North Dakota, they’re a lot more worried about soybeans than they are about all of this, I can tell you. About the weather and what prices they’re going to get for it. That’s what drives them on a daily basis. And when we get closer, they’ll begin to pay more attention. And that’s the way that it should be.

Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it. That theory has two problems. First, there’s no statutory crime at the center of this, such as there was in Watergate (several of them, in fact) or in the Bill Clinton impeachment. Second, thus far it’s been Democrats who have been telling the whole story. Once it gets into open testimony and cross-examination, the narrative will get a lot more murky. It’s possible that this will catch the public’s imagination, but a scandal without a statutory crime, secret tapes, or sex seems very unlikely to do so.

Perhaps the media and Democrats should pay more attention to what voters are saying now rather than what they hope voters might say later. Kudos to Chuck Todd for airing this, though, because it would have been very easy to just bury it.