Well, here we go. At long last, the House has launched an impeachment inquiry. Details to follow.
Many people were bagging on Nancy Pelosi for months for not launching an impeachment inquiry, and hopefully those people appreciate how foolish they look now. Maybe something could have been done off the back of the Mueller inquiry, but after Barr soft-pedaled the results and Mueller insisted on staying above the fray to a fault, there wasn’t enough there to get public traction. And since impeachment is a political process, public traction is the necessary ingredient if this is to go anywhere.
I trust Nancy. Implicitly. The streets of Washington are filled with ghosts of the careers of people who underestimated Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi. She was never going to shove her chips into the middle until she had a winning hand, because she knew damn well that you only get one shot at this kind of thing. The Senate was never going to turn over before the election, and there would never be 67 votes for conviction in this Senate, but at this point you don’t need 67 votes. You just need 51, enough to get a majority of the Senate to say that yes, the orange decompensator at 1600 Penn is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, and let the ballot box handle the rest, both in the White House and in the Senate.
This is a bet – and basically she’s betting the country – that it’s enough to follow the forms and processes that have been laid down for years and decades and that the system can be made to work. Haltingtly, uneasily, never fast enough or fair enough, but made to work. It’s a direct challenge to the McConnell Republican ethos, that everything and anything goes and there is no law but victory. If she wins, maybe she’s right. If she loses, well, at that point we’ve lost anyway. Again, the point is not to impeach and convict, it’s to grease the skids for removal in November 2020 at the ballot box.
Part of the risk in all this, of course, is rule of law. Which only works, in the end, because of guns. You can blather on all you like about our Constitutional system and the norms and practices of democracy, but in the end, the decisions of Congress can be ignored (as this Administration has done with everything, whether subpoena or black-letter law or traditional conduct). And then you have to appeal to the courts, which may or may not rule on a nonpartisan basis (cf. Bush v Gore, 2000). And then when the courts decide and it’s gone all the way to the top…who was it that said “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it”? And how do you enforce it? You have to send around Feds, who have warrants. Which can be, again, ignored. Did you ever see a piece of paper stop someone who didn’t want to be stopped? Remember how Earl walked right through that restraining order? At some point, all law boils down to the squeeze of a trigger.
Which, frankly, is what a lot of them want. The GOP spent years in nutpicking and painting the most extreme leftists they could find as the mainstream of the Democrats. The rank and file of the Republican Party pointed at some random Berkeley city councilman crowing for a war crimes trial for Bush while lining up behind the idea that businesses should be allowed to refuse birth control as part of employees’ insurance, and a supine press in thrall to the Golden Mean fallacy more or less let them. Trying to facilitate increased access to private health insurance – lining the pockets of the private health system because public insurance was beyond the pale – was tantamount to some sort of Muslim socialist invasion, while literally shoving asylum seekers into camps and taking their children was “so what”.
We have one party that has reduced its practitioners to zombies. Reason is out the window. Logic is ignored. Facts are malleable. Truth is opinion. At the end of the day, if a zombie is really a zombie, your choice is to either run, get your brain eaten, or take its head off. Nancy’s going to sharpen the machete. It’s up to us to swing it. We have less than fourteen months and only one chance to get it right.