While I don’t share their conclusions, I have a grudging admiration for the Democrats’ willingness to do what Republicans would not: Make the public case that a president they see as deeply objectionable should be ousted. Making the case does not oblige congressional Democrats to vote on articles of impeachment; they are entitled to explore whether there should be articles of impeachment.

But the question is: Do the Democrats have a good-faith belief that President Trump has engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors, or are they engaged in a political stunt, the objectives of which are to appease irrational elements of their base and to batter Trump for 2020 election purposes?

If they have a good-faith belief that the president’s impeachment must be considered, they owe it to the country to vote on conducting an impeachment inquiry, rather than continue dodging accountability. Indeed, if Democrats really believe what they say — if they really believe there have been appalling abuses of power, rather than mere missteps or political disputes — then they should be proud to vote on it.

Only the House can impeach the president. If there is to be an inquiry about invoking this most solemn and consequential of the House’s powers, the House must vote to conduct it. It is not for the Speaker and her adjutants to decree that there is an inquiry. If the inquiry is to be legitimate, the House as a whole must decide to conduct it.