But the House Democrats (and their supporters in the media) seem unconsciously guided not by Animal House but rather by a cultural document set in the U.S. Senate, the one featuring a desperate Jimmy Stewart as Jefferson Smith directing his words at Claude Rains’s Sen. Paine: “I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don’t know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for.” The nobility comes from the fact that the cause is doomed. Except, of course, in the movie called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jefferson Smith turns the tide and wins the day and the corrupt Senator Paine goes into the cloakroom and commits suicide.
Well, this isn’t a movie. Nobody’s going to shoot himself in the Capitol out of shame, no matter how many op-eds in the New York Times demand someone do so. Yes, the Democrats will impeach Trump. And…nothing will happen. The polls will not change. The people will not move. And they will avoid watching the January trial.
Now, the impeachment will be nominally for what I agree is awful behavior in relation to Ukraine—but it matters that the behavior ended up having no long-term consequences in terms of the Congressionally mandated dollars whose flow he was interrupting. To hear partisans of impeachment tell it, there is no difference between an effort to suspend aid that gets reversed (for whatever reason, even if the reason is craven fear of precisely this result) and the permanent suspension of the aid. And that just doesn’t pass the smell test, either logically or legally.