House Democrats won the first round. They impeached Donald Trump, a man they despise and whose presidency they wish to destroy. It was, of course, a strictly partisan vote. Senate Republicans will win the second round. Trump will be acquitted by the Senate in what will be largely or entirely a partisan vote.
So we will have two winners–House Democrats, who control their chamber and who have stamped Trump as an impeached president for all time; and Senate Republicans, who control their chamber and can thwart the destroy-Trump effort with just a third of Senate votes plus one.
Trump will win and lose at the same time–escaping conviction but tarred in history by the House impeachment vote.
But the central loser in this drama is the country.
The impeachment saga is giving the country precisely what it does not need in these difficult times of impassioned politics–namely, a huge dose of political cynicism.
One has to wonder what these politicians are thinking as they wrap their actions in grave pronouncements about their reverence for the hallowed Constitution even as they engage is some of the most grubby political actions seen in many years…..
The lesson is clear, and it’s the Jerry Nadler lesson: If the president’s popular standing, based on an impeachment initiative and the allegations it surfaces, doesn’t erode across the board, with members of the president’s own party peeling off in significant numbers, then impeachment is probably a fool’s mission….
Only in the Nixon case do we see an impeachment that met the test of politics and history. The other three, including the current one, don’t measure up to the seriousness and solemnity required by a political action of such gravity.
Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century (Simon & Schuster).
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