I’m not in very good shape tonight, so I’m going to largely rely on the commentary of others to mark this disastrous day in American history.
I reached the point long ago where I was boring myself by having to write the same things over and over again as I documented what is tagged here as the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: that the Democrats and “the resistance” are completely and solely responsible for abandoning what their own leaders said was the duty of defeated candidates and parties; that the news media has breached its duty to our democracy and endangered the Republic by breaching its own ethical standards and committing to single party advocacy and permanent warfare against an elected President; that President Trump, unlike every one of his predecessors, has never been given the benefit of unified support by the nation, or allowed to do his job as well as he could do it without harassment and abuse from all sides; and most of all, that the strategy of the Democratic Party, to decide to remove this President and then set out to find a way to do it, was unethical, illegal, undemocratic, and un-American.
I reached these conclusions not as a supporter or fan of the President, as anyone who has visited here knows, but as a life-long student of the American Presidency, U.S. history and leadership, as a lawyer, an ethicist, and as a civically informed citizen.
And I’m right. Despite the loud howls of the impeachment mob, there have been many thorough briefs supporting my analysis, notable among them Prof. Turley’s statement in the House hearings, and most recently, the President’s own letter. Today’s impeachment vote is an anti-climax, for once the Democrats got the majority in the House, it was obvious that they would impeach the President because they could, once they found a plausible justification. (Recall that Speaker Pelosi once stated that any impeachment would have to be bi-partisan to be valid. Today’s impeachment votes included no Republicans. Res ipsa loquitur.) The surprise is that they impeached without a plausible justification, and were willing to gamble that slaking the hate of their most rabid base members was worth the certain electoral backlash to follow.
I think it was a foolish, reckless, irresponsible choice, and they deserve to pay a heavy, heavy price for it. It’s important that they do. Crucial, in fact.
Two commentators especially impressed me with their analysis today. The first is Andrew McCarthy, whose opinions I have featured on Ethics Alarms before. He has been consistently astute and prescient in his analyses of the various coup attempts, especially his coverage of the Mueller investigation and the FISA fiasco. His article is titled “Trump’s impeachment is all too likely to become ‘the new normal’.” An excerpt:
Trump’s impeachment is the one the Framers feared. It is a straight-party-line impeachment, based on misconduct that is so nebulous and inconsequential that Democrats changed their theory of criminality multiple times (“quid pro quo,” campaign finance, extortion, bribery) until finally settling on no crime at all, accusing the president of “abuse of power.” This new standard is so amorphous, it could be applied to any president. Every president, after all, abuses the awesome powers of the office from time to time…Now…The base of the party out of power will expect its representatives in Congress to impeach the president, particularly if they have the raw numbers to get it done in the House…
The second analysis I recommend is from a blogger I never encountered before, Andrew Davis.( A grateful Pointer to Instapundit for the link.) His post is titled “A House Divided: impeachment as the new normal,” converging with McCarthy (and me) in his assessment of why this impeachment to so dangerous and wrong. A sample:
Trump was not impeached for some mysterious phone call to Ukraine. He was impeached because Democrats hate him. Impeachment is the figurative ejector seat in our democracy. It was designed as a measure of last resort to protect the nation from its President. Does anyone really believe this phone call passes muster? We have now chosen to employ impeachment twice in twenty-one years, after using it only once before in the history of our nation. We have impeached two out of the last four presidents. Let that sink in. This is a dismal reflection on the state of our politics.
I still intend to complete my list of the top villains in this self-inflicted wound on our nation and culture. The Democrats had many accessories and enablers, all of them deserving blame. This is the greatest ethics collapse the nation has suffered since the McCarthy years, and perhaps before. It became unavoidable because emotions were allowed to take priority over reason, and because elected officials chose to be craven and selfish followers rather than leaders.