March 13, 2019

Pelosi on Impeachment

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On Monday, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told the Washington Post, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And [Trump’s] just not worth it.” Washington Post

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From the Left

The left is divided, with some believing Pelosi is doing the politically smart thing, and others arguing that Congress has an obligation to impeach if circumstances warrant.

“If the Democrats held 55 or 60 Senate seats, or if Republicans weren't so united behind Trump, it might be an entirely different equation. But if Trump is impeached by the House and then acquitted in the Senate (as Bill Clinton was the last time we went through this), Democrats will have offered him a potent political weapon…

I don't know why Pelosi didn't make those points directly… Perhaps she doesn't want to be perceived as overly focused on raw political calculus and decided she had to find more persuasive moral high ground. ‘He's just not worth it’ wasn't exactly her finest rhetorical hour. But when it comes to the politics of impeachment, she's right: It's a waste of time.”
Matthew Rozsa, Salon

“In throwing cold water on the idea of impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi in some ways was simply offering a cleareyed assessment of the state of politics today in the nation’s hyperpolarized capital: There are not enough votes to convict and remove President Trump from office…

“And yet in declaring that impeachment therefore is ‘just not worth it,’ Ms. Pelosi may also be setting a far-reaching new standard with implications long after Mr. Trump leaves office. By her reasoning, accusations of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations and other offenses — even if proved — do not rise to a level requiring action by the House of Representatives.”
Peter Baker and Emily Cochrane, New York Times

“There is no need for Pelosi to declare that she’s not for impeachment in the present, when it would be a lot more salutary to say this is simply premature, and that in the end, the right course of action will be determined by the facts, and leave it at that…

“Pelosi’s suggestion that impeachment hearings can proceed only with ‘bipartisan’ support is also unnecessarily self-constraining. Historian Kevin Kruse points out that majority support for President Richard M. Nixon’s removal didn’t develop until after the impeachment inquiry commenced. This can’t be the threshold for beginning an inquiry.”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

“Pelosi might have meant that impeachment isn’t a good idea unless there is ‘compelling and overwhelming’ evidence that the president actually engaged in actions that would amount to an impeachable offense. If so, her position is perfectly sensible… [but] If Pelosi meant to say otherwise – to suggest that the House can refrain from acting unless impeachment is ‘bipartisan’ or not ‘divisive’ – she was speaking in patent defiance of the constitutional plan… the Constitution does not license members of the House of Representatives to refrain from impeachment, on the ground that it would not be ‘bipartisan’ and would ‘divide the country.’”
Cass R. Sunstein, Bloomberg

Some posit that “the last thing that the Democratic leadership wants to do in this environment is to remove Trump and inaugurate a Mike Pence administration before the 2020 election. They want Trump wounded but alive…

“Democratic House members have maintained the illusion of working toward impeachment with a harsh blizzard of investigations and subpoenas. However, most of these efforts focus on conduct by Trump before he became president. There is limited oversight value in some of these issues and even less potential for impeachment. Yet, the public does not understand that this is just political kabuki theatre. It actually believes an impeachment is in the making, and it is becoming impatient.”
Jonathan Turley, The Hill

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right sees this is as a smart move by Pelosi, given the lack of evidence against Trump.

From the Right

The right sees this is as a smart move by Pelosi, given the lack of evidence against Trump.

“If Pelosi and Schiff really believed their outlandish rhetoric on Russian collusion, they would be moving to impeach the president. If they believed, as they previously claimed, that there is clear evidence to show Trump is in bed with Putin, they could not move fast enough to present that evidence and force Republicans to defend an obviously compromised commander in chief. The fact is, they don’t have the evidence, and they don’t expect Special Counsel Robert Mueller to provide it.”
David Marcus, The Federalist

“The publicly available information about President Trump does not warrant his impeachment. Shady contacts with Russian operatives and a potential campaign-finance violation aren’t enough. Nor can Mueller be counted on to provide the smoking gun. That’s why the House has embarked on its fishing expedition, why the New York state attorney general’s office is poring over the president’s business record. They’re getting desperate. Pelosi’s against impeachment because she understands that the Democrats’ best chance at overturning the 2016 result remains the 2020 election.”
Matthew Continetti, National Review

Pelosi “is a shrewd politician who is playing the odds with her eye on the bigger prize, namely putting a Democrat in the White House… 59 percent of voters recently told Quinnipiac that they opposed impeachment. The unpopularity of impeachment could be a drag on Democratic candidates up and down the ticket… The decision not to impeach also removes a Republican talking point that could have been used to rally the base. A Democratic attack on the president, who remains popular in the GOP, would have spurred Republicans to circle the wagons in defense of the president. Without impeachment on the table, Republican voters disappointed in Trump’s performance might be more likely to stay home.”
David Thornton, The Resurgent

Impeachment “would energize Republicans to no end… As Democrats rip each other apart [in the primary], and they will, Trump’s war chest swells, the GOP is more united as ever, and the Democrats’ overreach thanks to members of Congress, like Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, could even scare Independents away.”
Matt Vespa, Townhall

“We’ve seen the result when the House pursued impeachment despite the lack of consensus across the aisle for that action. Republicans ended up getting burned in 1998’s midterms after a voter backlash raised confidence in Bill Clinton… The political lesson from 1998 is still obvious. Being confident in your own outrage isn’t enough to succeed at impeachment. It’s much safer to stick to elections when replacing presidents, unless someone digs up an actual crime large enough to convince both parties that the president has to go.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“For once, the grassroots progressives have a good reason to be furious with their leadership. ‘Impeaching Trump’ is to the progressive grassroots what ‘repeal and replace Obamacare’ is to the conservative grassroots — a big ambitious goal that passionate outsiders boast will be easy, and that will determine the fate of the country. Much like with the waves of Republicans in 2010, 2014 and 2016, Democrats arrived in Washington and suddenly learned their goal is much more difficult than it appeared

“[But] impeachment is not a mulligan or do-over. We’ve never removed a president from office in our history. Two have been impeached by the House but spared by the Senate, and President Nixon resigned. We can’t have the first president removed from office to be taken out on a technicality. Whatever we do now establishes a precedent for the future.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

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