From San Francisco to Amherst, hungover activists greeted Thursday’s mid-afternoon sun, rolling out of their waterbeds in the warm belief that Donald J. Trump was no longer president of the United States.
“Very sadly now… I solemnly and sadly open the debate on the impeachment,” Pelosi announced before Wednesday’s vote. “He gave us no choice,” she concluded.
“A Somber Pelosi Wields Her Impeachment Power In ‘Sadness’ — And With Ferocity,” one CNN headline reads. Dozens more papers across the country followed the speaker’s direction, although at least two of her colleagues missed the message, dancing down the halls and smiling all the way.
All these tears, we know, were the culmination of years of a deep-dive investigation of how voters would react if Democrats gave it a try.
“Throughout the 2018 midterm campaign,” New York magazine reports, “the operatives in charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) included a question about support for impeachment in the private national poll they ran every month to inform their strategy.”
Democrat after Democrat decided he’d have a better chance at re-election (and avoiding a primary from his left) if they went for it. It was, they claimed, their duty to the Founding Fathers. They, the politicians assured, were just like the men who fought and died in the Battle of the Bulge.
It’s a strange thing to invoke the country’s founding and claim America’s honored dead while thinking instead about the next election. It’s stranger still to pretend you’re consulting the heavens when really you’re just getting updates from your pollsters.
“When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?” Pelosi quoted the late Elijah Cummings. “We did all we could, Elijah. We passed two articles of impeachment. The president is impeached.”
But Elijah was a Democrat from Baltimore, not an Old Testament prophet, and it turns out the House might not have even impeached the president at all.
At a press conference just a day after saving American democracy and sealing her place in heaven, Pelosi said she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Oh, and that she doesn’t know if or when she’ll be sending the House vote up to the Senate. This poses a problem for those left-wing activists who at least hoped the president would get an “impeached” asterisk on his Wikipedia page.
“If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president,” Harvard prat Noah Feldman wrote in a Thursday Bloomberg op-ed. “If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all.”
Feldman might sound familiar because he was one of the Democrats’ own witnesses, called before Jerry Nadler’s committee to tell them all how historic and constitutional they all are. He is also known to call for the president’s impeachment with a dramatic waft of self-importance every few months (including once for saying President Barack Obama spied on his campaign).
This whole process problem would be very awkward, except Pelosi was never actually on any mission from God or for the republic. It was all calculated political theater, and almost certainly a play that will turn sour for her party while misfire after misfire confuses her base, incenses Republicans, and alienates the rest of us.
“I have a spring in my step,” she told reporters after the impeachment vote, “because of the moral courage of our caucus.”
The official parts of the impeachment began with an investigation that excluded the minority and the accused from all important aspects of the process. From there, we were treated to charges that slid and shifted from high crimes and misdemeanors down to the dubious, gaseous claims of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. With the final act a delay or refusal to send the vote for Senate trial, it is safe to say that every aspect of Democrats’ impeachment has failed to meet even the standards of justice set by previous presidential impeachments.
The day after the vote, a Washington news outlet asked her about criticism of her decision to not hold the articles of impeachment in the House.
“Oh pfft,” the speaker replied, “waving her hand dismissively.”