Last week, a friend of mine gave me the perfect metaphor for explaining impeachment. An ancient Buddhist parable relates that six blind men were wandering through the wilderness and encountered an elephant. Since none of them had ever seen such a creature, they each described it based on the part that they could feel. So each one consequently called it a rope (tail), wall (flank), tree (leg), spear (tusk), snake (trunk), and mat (ear).
This is the case with the farcical three-year impeachment quest that has seized much of the media and the political system since Donald Trump won the election.
In the spring of 2017, with Trump scarcely four months in office, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a well-known scholar of constitutional law, was already grumbling about impeachment. This was in the early days of the “Russian collusion” narrative that later led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And since then—as an increasingly deranged cast of talking heads, politicians, and bureaucrats has attempted to feel their way to impeachment as if the law and constitutional process were a story arc in “House of Cards” or an “NCIS” spinoff—impeachment talk remains the Left’s only source of political solace.
The build-up and anticipation created so much hysteria that when it finally arrived, the Washington Post had to scold the public about how it was not supposed to be entertaining since disappointed viewers were not tuning in. But the diehard supporters cannot help themselves and continue to hang on every word as they march toward their own doom.
What is so comical about the impeachment process is that it has brought together such a diverse cast of naysayers and mediocrities that the only thing that bonds them together is their hatred of Trump. There are neo-Marxists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and neocons like Bill Kristol, corporate plutocrats like Tom Steyer, and has-been celebutantes like Alyssa Milano. A common refrain from among critics of the process on the Left like Jimmy Dore and Aaron Maté is that Democrats are only pursuing it as a means to avoid actually presenting a coherent alternative to the GOP.
The Coalition of the Shilling that is arrayed against Trump and for impeachment is largely motivated by the need for redemption for their failed predictions in 2016 as well and the massive setbacks to their leftist projects like the Paris Climate Accord and Trans-Pacific Partnership. The tragic flaw in their plan is that no matter how much they hate Trump, no amount of play-acting can convince the audience that they actually like the voters or believe that this process is about upholding the law and the Constitution.
Here are some of the most transparently political pleas that were made for impeachment:
- In August 2018, ahead of the midterm elections, The Young Turks co-founder Çenk Uygur called for the Democrats to “win more seats” in order to take over the House and impeach Trump in the wake of the conviction of former campaign manager Paul Manafort for tax violations. He tried to make it about Trump’s supposed payments of hush money to porn star mistress Stormy Daniels from campaign donations (which was never proven) but failed to tie that to the Manafort conviction. Uygur failed to explain why Trump should be impeached for violations Manafort committed years before working for Trump.
- In August 2019, Milano wrote an article for Refinery29 calling for impeachment in the wake of the Wal-Mart shooting in El Paso for—from her perspective—stoking a race war by not passing gun control laws, despite herself listing several instances when Democrats did nothing in previous years.
- NeverTrumper and former nominal conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote a column for the Washington Post in October that served as an ad for Kristol’s “Republicans for the Rule of Law” calling for impeachment. Rubin insisted it was not a rebuttal to say hearsay evidence should not be used to convict President Trump in the Senate where the rules of evidence do apply. So in order to dump Trump, NeverTrumpers admit that they would make a mockery of the judicial process.
- CNN anchor and underachieving younger sibling Chris Cuomo claimed on November 27 that Donald Trump was “playing the victim” in his public statements about the impeachment process. This is ironic coming from a person who had a public meltdown and claimed that being called “Fredo” was a racial slur equivalent to the n-word for Italians.
Add to this fact that many of these people don’t actually care why Trump is impeached, they just want it done, and when reality gets in the way, they go into full diva mode. Freshman Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) famously declared on video to a crowd of supporters, with her son at her side, that “we’re gonna impeach the motherf—-r” even before having been sworn in as a member of Congress.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has harped on impeachment since the beginning, converted his #NeedToImpeach campaign mailing list into a vehicle for his own presidential campaign that has garnered him 1.7 percent in aggregate national polls so far, and even some of his impeachment activists claim they were strong-armed into joining the effort.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at one point claimed that not impeaching Trump would be just as much of a “political maneuver” as would be impeaching him without cause. But by October, when the actual impeachment inquiry was just getting underway, the freshman New York Democrat declared: “I’m over it.”
It should now be obvious that whatever the outcome of the impeachment process is, it will not bring the country together. This is because the last three years have exposed fundamental rifts in the American political landscape that likely cannot be resolved without heroic measures. This is not about party registration or increasingly obsolete notions of Left and Right. It’s about the constitutional foundations of the Republic and a crumbling civic culture. Restoring those foundations is difficult enough. But there can be no going back to the status quo before 2016.