Friday, December 13, 2019

Impeachment, Even Acquittal Are Good Outcomes

I have a confession. Political junkie though I may be, I stopped watching the impeachment inquiry marathon after the initial testimonies during the hearings conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. No need to listen further to each side drone on. They were not deliberating. They were not changing any minds. They were posing for sound bites to flash back home and, in the case of Republicans, to beam into the White House where the TV-fanatic-in-chief monitored each presentation and tweeted accordingly.

Passage of impeachment charges by the House Judiciary Committee, and next week by the full House, along straight party lines was a foregone conclusion. As is, barring revelations from Mount Sinai, acquittal by the Republican controlled Senate.

No one should expect anything different. It is, as God found at the time of creation, “good.”

I reach that conclusion for the good of the country. House Democrats had to expose Trump’s violation of his oath of office and the Constitution. They needed to reassert the equality of the legislative branch in our tricameral system of government, even knowing that it would be a pyrrhic, incomplete victory given the outcome in the Senate.

Exposure of another kind is the “good” legacy awaiting Republicans.

Trump has challenged the limits of presidential power and propriety. His behavior and policies, while often repulsive and abhorrent, are not in themselves impeachable offenses. But soliciting foreign government involvement in our elections is. As is thwarting constitutionally empowered congressional oversight of the executive branch by refusing to respond to subpoenas and by ordering his aides not to appear before Congress or to provide requested documents.

I have heard Trump defenders say he has done nothing his predecessors did not do. Putting the veracity of that claim aside, it matters not that Congress previously gave a pass to impeachable behavior. Two, or more, wrongs do not make a right.

By condoning Trump’s actions Republicans have chosen power over principle, partisanship over patriotism. They are repudiating 230 years of constitutional government in favor of opening up our nation to abuses never before tolerated and, once Trump is found not guilty by the Senate, potentially more egregious and damaging to the republic.

It is a shame that courage and putting country over self have virtually no quarter among our political class. If there is any silver lining in this exercise of impeachment it will come from an invigorated electorate that chooses to reward honesty and bravery in government and in so doing will flush the offenders down the drain, thereby cleaning the swamp of its greatest miscreant.