Democrats blow Impeachment, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

What possible benefit to the country could House Democrats see in a half-hearted impeachment effort that is bound to fail to remove Trump from office?

Two quotes highlight the troubling aspects of the House Judiciary Committee’s draft articles of impeachment:

(1)  “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”

and

(2)  “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The camel here are articles of impeachment devised to help “moderate” House Democrats avoid the wrath of Trump-leaning voters, but which actually will benefit Trump and make it more likely not only that they themselves will lose their seats, but also that the Democrats will lose the House.

The Emerson quote underlines the reality that any attempt to remove Trump from office in the Senate must be successful, if dire retribution by the President in the form of even greater abuses and lawlessness is to be avoided.

Nancy Pelosi never wanted to use impeachment to educate the American people about the facts of President Donald J. Trump’s  wide-ranging misdeeds in office, as part of a serious effort to remove him from office.

Since the spring she resolutely resisted the opening of an impeachment inquiry.

Finally, after the Whistleblower complaint and the transcript of Trump’s July 25, 2019 telephone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky became public, she acceded to the demands of the House Democratic caucus to open an impeachment inquiry.

From the beginning, however, it was narrowly focused on the Ukraine affair.

The House leadership firmly resisted efforts to broaden the inquiry to include the cases of obstruction of justice included in the Mueller Report.

Now, Nancy Pelosi has once again gotten her way.  In doing so, she has guaranteed that the Democrats will blow the impeachment of Donald Trump.

The impeachment process offered the Democrats a unique opportunity to educate the American people and electorate as to the facts of Trump’s misdeeds in office.  

Moreover, with a continuing impeachment inquiry in the House, addressing the Mueller Report’s findings and perhaps oher matters, they would have at least retained control over the timing of the impeachment process.

The challenge the Democrats have faced is that Trump has succeeded in building a propaganda bubble which engulfs his supporters, and in corrupting Republican congressmen, Senators, and government officials to the point where they have abandoned any serious pretense to dedication to the truth or to the Rule of Law.

Impeachment offered a unique opportunity to focus the attention of the public on the facts of Trump’s misdeeds in office. Now the Democrats have blown that opportunity.

Trump’s propaganda bubble will be strengthened, not weakened, by their actions. Now he can argue that the Mueller investigation was a “hoax” and a “witch-hunt” as demonstrated by the fact that the House Democrats didn’t even include any of the charges in the Mueller Report in their articles of impeachment.

After his acquittal in the Senate, Trump will argue that he never did anything wrong.

With this propaganda boost, and political debate revolving around opinion instead of facts, he is likely to be re-elected.

In a second term, Trump will not be constrained by Separation of Powers arguments or by the threat of impeachment. If Democrats think they have seen lawlessness up to now, they will need to brace themselves for the unbounded lawlessness likely to occur in Trump’s second term.

Nancy Pelosi and the timorous House Democrats who were afraid of Trump and his supporters will share the blame.  Democratic Congressmen who thought they could squeak by Trump, as they did in 2018, are likely to be sorely disappointed–and to lose their seats.

Many Democrats may ask themselves, in deciding whether to vote,  “What’s the point in voting for a party that is so cowardly they won’t take Trump on frontally, not even in an impeachment process?  And who are so stupid that they plan to impeach the president with no hope of removing him from office?  Why bother to vote?”

What possible benefit to the country could House Democrats see in a half-hearted impeachment effort that is bound to fail to remove Trump from office?

The House Democrats’ cowardly decision on articles of impeachment is likely to have a devastating impact on the motivation of Democratic activists and voters, with enthusiasm giving way to resignation.

Instead of fighting to defend the Constitution and the Rule of Law, by making the case to the American electorate that Trump should be impeached because of the facts that demonstrate the wide-ranging nature of his abuse of power, obstruction of justice (including witness tampering), and obstruction of Congress in general, the House Democrats have demonstrated that, like their Republican counterparts, what they care most about is being re-elected.

Their decisions on the scope of articles of impeachment appear to be guided not by their commitment to uphold the Constitution and the Rule of Law, but rather by a narrow and cynical political calculation as to how they can best retain their seats.

Having blown the impeachment opportunity, the challenge to the Democrats and other critics of Trump remains:

How do you pierce the Trump propaganda bubble?  How do you tear down Trump’s propaganda wall?

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.