Both modern 20th century presidential impeachments, Bill Clinton’s and Richard Nixon’s, one enacted, the other nipped in the bud by resignation, happened in each of the president’s second term. This is not a small matter. The problem with the Trump impeachment quandary is that this push for impeachment comes on the heels of his election, midway in his first term, thereby thwarting the recently expressed will of the people (or the will of the electoral college.)
This fact, though given short shrift most everywhere, including by Leader Pelosi, provides some lame substance to the president and his supporters' rhetoric of the Democrats wanting to stage a coup, to seek revenge for an election they should have won, etc. Though, for complicated reasons, the second term presidents, Clinton and Nixon, didn’t seem to be newly elevated figures ripe for political defenestration. Nixon, one needs to recall, had actually won his second term by a landslide, an electoral college one, in any case. Clinton, too, had won comfortably. But after serving five years or so both presidents had acquired a shop-worn aspect. Their failings had accumulated and their occupation of the White House had reached a tipping point.
Trump presents different, but not entirely foreign, similarities. One curious, but often overlooked aspect of Bill Clinton’s initial election, was how revealed his life had become. His campaign was shot through with publicized scandals, like Trump, mostly involving women and Bubba's randy ways. Indeed, Trump continues to get a pass on his abuse of women because of Bill Clinton's legacy. And there was, in addition, his avoidance, like Trump, of the Vietnam era draft. Before Clinton won his presidency, and shortly after, there had been many attack books published about him, more, by my count, than any previous contemporary president. In Nixon’s case, his long checkered career had already exposed him to the voters as a flawed vessel, and most of his faults would become more extreme after he was elected the second time. Nixon, as he once claimed, had been kicked around.
Ditto Trump. He likes to brag about how “transparent” he is and in any number of ways that is true. It is unavoidable, like Clinton and Nixon, for voters who were paying attention, to claim that these men were pigs in a poke. Trump looked impeachable before he was elected. And, for so-called low information voters, testy swing voters, those who want to throw the bums out, none of it seemed to matter.
The 2018 election was in its way an impeachment of Donald Trump. The Republicans forfeited congressional seats that surprised even them. The breakdown of voters by sex and race showed which voters Trump lost, or, finally, had second thoughts about who they may or may not have voted for in 2016. Buyer’s remorse was at work.
The shock was that the election didn’t seem to matter. Democrats won the House, but it was quickly made clear that the victory was gelded. With all the current worries about the Imperial Presidency it became obvious that the Senate held the most power, especially when Trump managed to finally find a sycophant Attorney General who actually had a demonstrable intelligence. William Barr, corralling the Department of Justice to be an adjunct of the White House and, coupled with the Senate’s undying allegiance maintained by the oily swamp-creature Mitch McConnell, lets Trump sit atop a formidable fortress.
But the Democrat-controlled House continues to fire spit balls at the Trump castle. Who actually thinks that if the House began impeachment proceedings its enhanced legal powers wouldn’t be similarly rebuffed and laughed at by Barr and McConnell, mucking up and delaying the process? All the House has is the power of the purse, which it doesn’t choose to use. Note the collapse on the Border bill. The representatives still want to spend money.
But, as voters did in 2018, let the people speak. Voting Trump out of office is the only way impeachment and the necessary conviction can occur. Power to the People, as the 60's slogan goes.