Democrats’ Wimpy Impeachment Has Made Trump Stronger Than Ever

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            “Many Democrats fear that Trump may be laying an impeachment trap,” Stephen Collins wrote for CNN last May. “It’s possible that the wider political divides get, the more Trump benefits. The spectacle would help him charge up the political base he needs to turn out in droves in 2020 with claims their 2016 votes were being stolen by political elites.”

            Give that man whatever passes for a cigar in this smokeless age.

            Any number of metaphors serves to illustrate the unintended effect that the hapless failed impeachment of Donald Trump is having on his base of support. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; the Democrats did just that with an attack that didn’t stand a chance of felling its target.

            If you’re thinking about taking a swing at a bully at a bar, be sure you can deliver a roundhouse punch that’s going to lay the bastard out flat on the floor. But if you don’t have what it takes to bring him down with the first blow, sneak out to the parking lot.

            The coronavirus outbreak has me thinking about disease. There’s a medical metaphor that I like best: when fighting off an infection it’s better not to use any medication than to take a weak antibiotic and risk strengthening what ails you.

            No matter the analogy, President Trump emerges from his Senate impeachment trial as a more formidable adversary than he was before. While his overall popularity remains at about 46%, the number of voters who “strongly” support him just hit a three-year high, indicating that he is better off than before impeachment. This should come to the surprise of no one who remembers the humiliation of Bill Clinton. Republican overreach over Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky led to the Democrat leaving office in 2000 with soaring popularity.

            Probably the biggest movement in favor of Trump has been with formerly “anti-Trump Republicans” who now see the truth of the President’s supporters’ claims that Democrats would do and say anything in order to get rid of a sitting Republican president. The ranks of Never Trumpers are shrinking, throwing a wrench into the strategy of centrist candidates like Biden and Buttigieg.

            Polls in key swing states show disproportionately high disapproval for impeachment. Voters in these places tend to prefer antiestablishment candidates. Impeachment allows Trump to frame himself as the rebel getting picked on by the in-crowd, Congressional Democrats.

            Impeachment — more specifically, this very lame, rushed, pro forma impeachment — also dispirits Democratic voters who see, once again, that the Democratic Party only seems to wage wars it knows it can’t win. What’s the point of voting for these clowns?

            One thing is for sure: no matter what perfidy is discovered or comes to light in the future, it’s going to be all but impossible to take a second stab at impeachment. Now Trump really could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Impeaching the same President twice is all but inconceivable.

            How did this happen? Democrats made one mistake after another.

            First and foremost was the lousy choice of impeachment counts. Pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens looked and felt too much like political business as usual, not a breach of normality so outrageous as to justify removal from office. Shades of Rob Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois.

            The Ukraine line of inquiry prompted as many questions as it tried to ask. If Trump is corrupt, what about the Bidens? Why were we giving aid to Ukraine in the first place when millions of Americans are homeless or poor? Why should Americans care about Ukraine? The country certainly isn’t, as Democrats alleged, important to American national security.

            A slim majority thought the Ukraine call was wrong. But they didn’t care enough to impeach him over it.

            Americans did care about emoluments and the president using his office to enrich himself. They did care about his wacko temperament and erratic behavior. They did care about separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Inexplicably, the Democrats let the good bad stuff go.

            Democrats screwed up badly with timing. You don’t have to be James Carville to know that it’s foolish to start an impeachment trial at the beginning of a presidential election campaign. You certainly don’t do it when many of your big-name candidates are senators who can’t campaign because they are stuck in Washington. Yet that’s exactly what Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff did.

            Starting the impeachment process so late in Trump’s first term forced Democrats into a rushed pro-forma process. Because Trump Administration officials broadcasted their intention to resist congressional subpoenas and the courts might have taken months to compel them to testify, Democratic prosecutors didn’t bother to subpoena key Republican witnesses or documents. (GOP obstruction became the basis for a dubious second count, “contempt of Congress.”)

            None of this would have been a problem had the “resistance” started working on impeachment in 2017. If they were worried about the politicizing effort of impeachment on the midterm elections, they could have begun impeachment in December 2018, which would have given them enough time to work through the court system last year.

            No serious student of politics thought there was a real chance that this process, rushed over a relatively inconsequential issue, could convince 17 Republican Senators to vote to remove a president for the first time in American history. Nevertheless, Democrats started a fight they knew they couldn’t win.                        

            Now liberals are dispirited. The president goes into his reelection campaign stronger than ever. A second term looks likelier than ever. Heckuva job, Nancy and Adam.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The Peoples Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

9 thoughts on “Democrats’ Wimpy Impeachment Has Made Trump Stronger Than Ever

  1. Biden’s rivals are stuck in the Senate while Joe campaigns in contests where they expect candidates to appear in person and shake hands and kiss babies.
    The House Leadership is doing all it can to ensure Joe is the Democrat nominee!
    They might impeach again and again to keep the Senate candidates for nominee stuck in the Senate, unable to campaign (but they’re hoping Joe can wrap it all up very quickly).

  2. Re: “Pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens looked and felt too much like political business as usual … ”

    In general and in particular, as Biden threatened to withhold even more Russki-killing dollars in 2015 … to keep the corruption investigation away from his son’s story. Link

    “”It was a foreign policy role Joseph R. Biden Jr. enthusiastically embraced during his vice presidency: browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. And one of his most memorable performances came on a trip to Kiev in December 2015, when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.
    …….
    Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.””

  3. Heckuva job, Nancy and Adam.

    Nothing to bitch about, Ted – anything that stops Mr Sanders from being the Democratic Party’s candidate. and, should that unfortunately be the case, from winning the election, is more than worth it. Mr Schiff’s and Ms Pelosi’s bagmen far prefer Mr Trump as US president to Mr Sanders….

    Henri

  4. And the dems just botched the Iowa caucuses, once again proving their failure to understand the proper configuration for a firing squad is not a circle.

    • To Beach Watcher:

      I just saw a video headline that HRC associates wrote the caucus results reporting “app.”

      Was it Stalin who said: “it doesn’t matter who votes, nor who counts the votes but, rather, who reports the vote counts”?

  5. For all the fake praise of the “sacred” Constitution by the Democrats they should have impeached Trump, not for withholding weapons from Ukraine, but for sending them to Ukraine.

    Obama did not allow the weapons to be sent to Ukraine for fear of escalating his Ukraine cold war coup into a hot war with Russia.

    The Constitution means nothing to the powerful, moneyed, well-armed, US oligarchs and their R and D errand boys.

  6. I’m going to mangle an old YouTube video of Steve Ballmer and say “emoluments, emoluments, emoluments, emoluments” – THAT is the cross Trump should have been nailed to, plus the border camps and the lost children. Russia/Ukraine is not the thing that really hurts Trump, it’s his low-level endless lawbending.

    (The video I was mangling: https://youtu.be/1La67yWHA6Q )

  7. The bully in the bar analogy is spot on. All they did was make him stronger. But the DLC did its job, making sure the charges against Trump were the weakest of all the ones that could be imagined.

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