The reality is that impeachment talk is the only thing holding the Democrats together. Pelosi’s heralded agenda is a flop. Her party is divided on health care, on immigration, on abortion. Whatever legislation she does pass is destined to meet the Grim Reaper in the Senate. The two-dozen 2020 candidates are uninspiring. There’s no war to defund. And the economic headlines are dynamite.
Legal warfare against Trump obscures these weaknesses. Doesn’t matter if no voter brings up Mueller outside the Beltway. Without teasing impeachment, no one would care about Democrats inside the Beltway. Two of three cable news channels are desperate for Trump scandals, real or imagined. The Democrats might as well give it to them. Or at least pretend to.
In recent weeks the Democrats have turned into a bizarre version of the caricature of Trump they regularly denounce. They lambaste Trump for indulging in conspiracy theories, but the Russia investigation has become their Benghazi, a scandal too complicated and not quite substantive enough to inflame the public imagination. They went after Trump for the “lock her up” chants at his rallies, but flirt with jailing both the attorney general and secretary of the Treasury, passed a New York state law directed at a single individual (forbidden in the Constitution as a bill of attainder), and speculate endlessly about how the president might one day end up behind bars. Pelosi says she worries Trump might not accept a loss in 2020 as Hillary Clinton says the election was stolen from her and the entire Democratic party indulges in the ludicrous fantasy that Stacey Abrams is the legitimate governor of a state she lost by more than 50,000 votes amidst record minority turnout.