To build their political case, Democrats frame every dispute with President Trump in dire terms: proof of his unfitness and the imperative of removing him. No misstep is too trivial. The president’s supporters, to the contrary, are incentivized to defend the president, even when they should be trying to convince him to change course. They do not want to be seen as implicitly supporting the impeachment effort, so every misstep, even ones that are serious though not egregious enough to warrant impeachment, must be defended rather than corrected. And the president — especially one with Trump’s persona, which is always to attack and never to confess error — is encouraged to double down on his mistakes, lest his changing course be seen as an implied admission of misconduct that strengthens the impeachment case.
The Democratic base demands impeachment. Recently, speaker Nancy Pelosi has come around to the conclusion that it can be done quickly and with minimal political damage to Democrats who hold seats in pro-Trump districts. It thus appears highly likely that the president will be impeached in the coming weeks.
The Democrats’ euphoria will be short-lived. There will be deep, bitter public protest because impeachment, on the facts before us, is objectively foolhardy. Trump’s missteps do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. If they did, Democrats would not fear voting to conduct the impeachment inquiry, and they would proudly hold their hearings in public with due process, rather than behind closed doors with selective leaking.