One thing we’ve learned in the last four years: Democrats don’t know how to play, or have the guts to play, political hardball.
The House Democrats’ Failure to Pursue a Broad Impeachment Inquiry in 2019
In 2019, House Democrats were afraid to go for a broad impeachment inquiry that would have encompassed the wide range of Trump’s crimes, including the obstruction of justice examples laid out in prosecutorial detail in the Mueller Report.
Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to pursue impeachment, and never understood that the process could serve an important educational function, helping to pierce Trump’s propaganda balloon and disenchant his delusional cult followers.
So she kept advocates of a broad impeachment inquiry in line, on the crazy assumption that such an inquiry were hurt Democratic candidates for the House in so-called “moderate” or Trump-friendly districts.
In a word, she was afraid to take Trump on, head-on.
Finally, she acceded to impeachment demands within her caucus by skillfully defecting demands for a broad impeachment inquiry to a narrowly-focused inquiry limited to the Ukraine affair. Proceeding with two articles of impeachment led to a trial in the Senate which acquitted Trump, and greatly emboldened the President in his lawlessness.
This approach was not successful in helping Democratic candidate win seats in the House. Instead, it led to a loss of seats, against candidates from this Republican Party.
In a word, her approach was an abysmal failure.
The Second Impeachment of Trump
Now, after President Trump and his enablers attempted for two months to carry out a coup d’état, the House has sent a since article of impeachment to the Senate. The great benefit of this action is that it will require each Republican Senator to go on the record on the issue of whether inciting an insurrection and attempting to overthrow the election and the Constitution nerits conviction in an impeachment trial.
The outcome is unpredictable, and will turn ultimately on how much Republican Senators want to remove Donald Trump from Republican politics by barring him from running for office in the future.
We are far past the point where we might harbor any illusions about Republican Senators honoring the oaths to uphold the Constitution.
Pro-Trump Senators will seek to cloak their votes to acquit Trump in a constitutional argument to the effect that trial of a former president or other Executive officer is outside the scope of the impeachment power in the Constitution.
Their cynicism will fool no one. Democrats will be able to run against them on their vote to acquit Trump.