The Democrats, having unwisely invested enormous political capital in the ability of special counsel Robert Mueller to produce some pretext for impeaching President Trump, now face a choice between two evils. Most of the legacy media, the far left wing of their own caucus, and an obsessive megadonor all insist that Mueller provided enough ammunition for impeachment. But recent surveys, including new polls conducted after the full Mueller report was released, show that most voters are against ousting Trump. Consequently, the Democrats will inevitably be forced to alienate some crucial constituency no matter which course they choose on impeachment.
The most difficult to appease may be the Fourth Estate. From the big dailies to the major broadcast and cable outlets to the most widely read blogs, the journalistic malpractice that plagued Russiagate continues unabated despite the collapse of the collusion hoax and the absence of evidence that the President committed obstruction of justice. Since the Mueller report was released, the New York Times ran a column titled, “In a Functional Country, We Would Be on the Road to Impeachment,” the Week published a piece titled, “The president must be impeached,” and the Washington Post ran an op-ed titled, “Why impeachment is imperative.” The latter effusion begins as follows:
Democrats’ fear of a backlash at the polls is no reason to avoid their constitutional responsibility to begin a formal impeachment proceeding against President Trump. This is a complex decision, but given the evidence presented in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, it is not a difficult one. The special counsel did not have a pathway to hold Trump accountable for obstruction of justice. Congress does.
This was penned by Donna F. Edwards, a former congresswoman who represented Maryland’s 4th District for five terms. Which brings us to the far left Democrats, most of whom share a luxury with Edwards that not many caucus members enjoy — they are impervious to the will of the voters. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, announced last Thursday that she would sign onto Rep. Rashida “Impeach the motherf**ker” Tlaib’s impeachment resolution. AOC’s Bronx district is so solidly Democratic that, as Nancy Pelosi recently put it, “This glass of water would win with a D next to its name.” That, of course, makes it easy for AOC to take the “principled” position:
Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President.… While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations, upon reading this DOJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate.
Most of AOC’S colleagues will, however, need to demonstrate that they amount to more than half empty vessels to retain their seats in 2020. This is particularly true of the freshman representatives who narrowly won their seats in districts previously held by Republicans. Most of these members ran as moderates and will be vulnerable in 2020 to charges that they were sent to Washington to pursue serious policy objectives rather than an all-consuming and fruitless impeachment crusade. And the Democratic leadership seems to gets it. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer understand that their majority is fragile and that impeachment isn’t a priority for voters.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, even if the House leadership can control the far left members of their caucus, convince them to listen to the voters, and adjust their rhetoric accordingly, it’s difficult to know how they will handle megadonor Tom Steyer. This man has a particularly virulent case of impeachment fever, and he has no interest in seeking treatment for his affliction. Moreover, he contributed well over $73 million to the Democrats during 2018 alone and, like all big donors, he expects to see a hefty return on his investment. Over the weekend, he published an op-ed in the South Florida Sun Sentinel that made it abundantly clear what kind of ROI he has in mind:
We need House Democrats to actually use the power that voters awarded them last November.… The people who came out to vote in 2018 — in particular young people, women, working people, and people of color — were hoping to elect representatives who would champion their interests.… Our representatives must join us in this struggle for the truth, and act like it’s the most important fight of their political lives. That’s what the people voted for. That’s what the people paid for.
Like all billionaires, other than Trump, Steyer is out of touch with normal Americans. This is illustrated by a survey conducted by Change Research after the full Mueller report was released. That poll found that 53% of likely 2020 voters are against impeaching the President. A Business Insider poll conducted April 19 found that, even among “moderate and left-leaning respondents,” only 31% say “pursuing Trump’s impeachment is a good use of the Democratic Party’s time.” These results have remained pretty consistent throughout the polls since Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of the Mueller investigation’s findings in late March.
On impeachment, the Democrats are caught betweenScylla and Charybdis. The “news” media, the far left wing of their own caucus, and their most vocal paymaster want President Trump thrown over the side to appease the gods of the deep state. But the electorate isn’t there. The voters aren’t naïve enough to think Trump is as pure as the driven snow, but most have by now concluded that the nonstop calumny to which he has been subjected for the last three years is unfair at best. In the end, the Democrats don’t have any good choices. The exigencies of ideology and money won’t permit them to do the right thing, and the voters will probably punish them for failing to do so.