Yesterday on Twitter…
This is absolutely bloody brilliant. And I feel absolutely certain that Congressional Democrats don’t have the stomach to pull it off.
Let’s recap the situation as of midday, Tuesday December 17, 2019. The House of Representatives is due to vote sometime this week on articles of impeachment for That Most Impeachable Of Presidents, Donald Trump. In the normal course of events, the action would move to the Senate for a trial — and an acquittal, thanks to the LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU Republican majority.
Where Lindsey Graham has promised not to listen to the evidence, thus pre-disavowing his duty as a juror. And where Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell has openly acknowledged he’s conniving with Trump on trial rules and staging.
The game is fixed. So why play along?
The House should approve impeachment, and then sit on it. Don’t convey the articles to the Senate. There’s nothing that mandates immediate conveyance, and a lot of good arguments for playing keep-away.
For starters, the impeachment process has been the first time in living memory that the Dems have managed to wrest the spotlight away from whatever Trump is tweeting or helicopter-adjacent shouting. They’ve controlled the narrative, and will continue to do so this week.
After that, it’s in Republican hands once again — if the House gives it over to the Senate. The Dems would go back to playing defense.
Keeping the initiative is good politics. It allows Democratic senators who are running for president to stay on the campaign trail as the primary season kicks into overdrive. It allows House committees to continue their investigations — which are unfinished, need I remind, thanks to Trump’s total and unconstitutional obstruction of the process.
Just imagine a drip-drip-drip of additional hearings throughout the winter, spring and summer, and the potential for fresh revelations throughout the campaign season.
And Trump’s logjam could be broken anytime by court rulings. Suddenly we’d get an outpouring of fresh evidence and witness testimony. If the procedural door is open to additional articles, the House can proceed. If the Senate acquits, the waters are seriously muddied.
Pretty much since the retirement of Lyndon Johnson, I’ve watched the Democrats play by the rules while Republicans routinely step over the lines, and erase them in the process. LBJ was dead wrong on Vietnam and it cost him a second term, but he knew how to twist an elbow for a good cause.
It’s time to stop being the feckless defenders of a long-gone state of political comity.
I fully realize that Congressional Democrats don’t have the stomach for this. The Republicans and the Beltway pundits will scream about this breach of process. And Democrats are far too solicitous of the pundit class.
Need proof? Our Man In Washington, Peter Welch, is perfectly willing to hand the ball over to Senate Republicans — along with sincere wishes that they’ll suddenly decide to do the right thing. From the Rutland Herald:
“My hope, in the Senate, where they can set the rules of the trial, is that in fact they will request information from the President, get documents from Vice President Mike Pence, get documents and testimony from Secretary Pompeo, from Mick Mulvaney, that we sought to have testify in the House and the President rejected our subpoenas and efforts. I would like to see the Republican senators make a request of the President to get the evidence, and if the President has exculpatory evidence, he’ll have an opportunity to present it.”
“My hope,” my ass.
The Republicans are Lucy holding the football. The Democrats are Charlie Brown. It’s time to change the game.