The press mulled the impeachment of President Trump even before he became the Republican nominee for president. That is a rough guide to how long the “I-word” has been floated before the public.
“Could Trump be impeached shortly after he takes office?” asked Politico. “Impeachment is already on the lips of pundits, newspaper editorials, constitutional scholars, and even a few members of Congress. “
The date of that report was April 17, 2016; Mr. Trump only became the official nominee on July 19 of that year.
Journalists continue to bandy about the term with gusto, and then posture on-camera like it’s a foregone conclusion. Many appear convinced that if they package impeachment speculation like fact enough, the American public will believe that the president should be shamed, blamed, defamed and shown the door. Democrats reinforce the effort with appropriate commentary, even as the persuasive press offers only scanty coverage of Mr. Trump’s authentic accomplishments.
But one longtime observer offers a reality check on impeachment.
“If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then perhaps the Democrats on a crusade to impeach President Trump should think twice about the road they are heading down. It’s one thing to hold more investigations and try to get President Trump’s tax returns. It is quite another thing to turn the entire machinery of Congress over to the impeachment process while blocking compromises on health care, immigration, infrastructure and other important legislation,” writes analyst Mark Penn in a Fox News op-ed; he was chief strategist for Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign.
Mr. Penn cited “the warning signs of partisanship taken too far” in both the impeachment of Mr. Clinton in 1998, and the Senate confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
“Voters made clear in both the Clinton and Kavanaugh cases that they want their elected representatives in Congress to get the business of lawmaking done and not focus on partisanship,” Mr. Penn said, suggesting that “Democrats just want the catharsis of impeaching their nemesis, but such satisfaction is likely to be fleeting.”
An endless impeachment effort could anger voters, and the Senate ultimately will not remove Mr. Trump, the analyst noted.
“So come January, the Democrats in the House will have a choice. They can accept the Mueller report and move on. Or, they can hold endless hearings all over again run by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, who is expected to chair the House Judiciary Committee, and then vote to impeach the president or censure him for the actions described in the Mueller report. The smartest move Democrats could make would likely be to approve some kind of censure motion against President Trump after a few hearings and then say the American people will decide in the 2020 election who should be president for another four years,” Mr. Penn advised.
THE IMPEACHMENT PRESS
Yes, yes. Impeachment coverage is non-stop. But that is now part of the political landscape. Nonetheless, here’s just a few headlines from the last 48 hours:
“Siege politics as Democrats discuss impeachment of Donald Trump over hush payments” (The Telegraph); “Sen. Angus King: Not enough evidence against Trump yet for impeachment” (NBC News); “Trump campaign finance violation would ‘certainly’ be impeachable offense, top Dem says” (Fox News); “Trump’s Problem Is ‘Impeachment is whatever the House says it is’” (RealClear Politics); “Top Dem Jerry Nadler says yes, Trump can be impeached if he directed porn star payoff” (Mediaite).
BIDEN AND SANDERS: ‘PLEASE NO’
“First wave of 2020 panic: Is Biden vs. Bernie really the best Democrats can do? After the sweeping, female-fueled victories of the midterms, a battle of old white dudes could spell disaster,” writes Andrew O’Hehir, executive editor of Slate.
“In case you thought the Democrats’ big win in the midterms — a pickup of 40 House seats, and counting — meant that the weirdness and bitterness of the 2016 primary was behind us, and that the party is ready to come together and banish the Twitter-troll-in-chief to the doghouse (or to prison) two years hence, you have a number of other thinks coming. Consider this: The leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination, by far, are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders,” Mr. O’Hehir continues.
“Speaking as a friend, kind of: That should be avoided at all costs. It’s a tragicomic farce waiting to happen, one that threatens to undermine much of what the Democrats have apparently accomplished over the last two years. Both of them are profoundly decent men who have done a lot for this country. But, just, please no.”
THIRD PARTY FEVER
California officials spent weeks counting provisional and absentee ballots following the Nov. 6 election, and have at last determined that Libertarian Jeff Hewitt will be the next supervisor for the 5th District of Riverside County. He won with 52 percent of the vote, Republican opponent Russ Bogh garnered 48 percent.
“This is arguably the largest, most momentous win in Libertarian Party history. Hewitt’s district alone has a population of over 438,000,” the Libertarian Party said in a celebratory statement, adding that in previous election, Libertarians victories had come in districts with populations of 50,000 or less.
“What we’re trying to do is keep advancing down the field regardless of the other things that are happening in the world or in politics. We have to show up to every election. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a blue wave or a red wall, if it’s presidential, if it’s a midterm or if it’s odd years,” says Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark, who emphasizes his party is in it for the “long game.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 45 percent of voters approve of their “Congress person”; 53 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 49 percent of Democrats agree.
• 34 percent overall disapprove; 32 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of independents and 37 percent of Democrats agree.
• 21 percent overall “don’t know”; 15 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats agree.
• 26 percent overall approve of “Congress as a whole”; 35 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats agree.
• 61 percent overall disapprove; 55 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.
• 14 percent overall “don’t know”; 10 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Reuters/IPSOS poll of 2,401 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 4. About 15 percent of the sample either did not know or did not declare any of those three affiliations.
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