At the rate things are going, citizens will need a scorecard to identify the targets of impeachment on Capitol Hill.
Congressional Democrats continue to be at odds with each other over the subject of impeachment.
But they’ve expanded the debate. Once limited to disputes over the political wisdom of impeaching President Donald Trump, now they’re fussing at each other whether and how to impeach new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh, a member of the court for less than a year now, has been a target of impeachment talk since his confirmation, the consequence of his critics’ characterizations of him as a serial rapist. Evidence to support those claims was, to least the least, unpersuasive.
But recent reporting from the New York Times — shoddy and incomplete — has put the issue back on the front page, leading to a new round of calls for impeachment by such party luminaries as presidential candidates and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris and party firebrands like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Alexis Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.
But not everyone in the Democratic Party establishment is happy with what they’re seeing as a new trend in governing the country.
That includes Illinois U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, who said his Democratic congressional colleagues need to “get real.”
“We’ve got to get beyond this ‘impeachment is the answer to every problem.’ It’s not realistic. If that’s how we are identified in Congress, as the impeachment Congress, we run the risk that people will feel we’re ignoring the issues that mean a lot to them as families,” he said.
Durbin may or may not be correct that the dual proposals to impeach Trump and Kavanaugh are politically unwise, but he knows it’s not smart to be seen as being at odds with fellow party members. So he, cleverly but not persuasively, blamed Republicans for the latest talk of impeaching Kavanaugh.
“We’re now getting pushed into the impeachment corner by the Republicans every chance they get,” Durbin said.
Don’t bother trying to analyze the thinking behind Durbin’s assertion. He’s just trying to establish common ground with the Democrats, whom he’s warning off impeachment.
Durbin is not the only senior Democrat concerned about his party’s impeachment agenda.
The usually talkative U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer told reporters he would address the Kavanaugh issue at some future time.
“That’s all I’m saying. Which is nothing. I’m saying nothing on Kavanaugh,” he said.
Impeachment, of course, is a cumbersome process that, theoretically at least, involves allegations of “high crimes and misdemeanors” against alleged wrongdoers.
In the real world, of course, grounds for impeachment are whatever the U.S. House and Senate say they are. Still, grounds for impeaching a federal judge or a president can’t just be conjured out of thin air because there are political consequences for pursuing ill-conceived removal efforts.
Republicans pursued an impeachment investigation and trial of former President Bill Clinton, and they paid for their actions at the polls. Now House Judiciary Committee Democrats are going after Trump, even while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is discouraging that effort and, so far at least, refusing to even comment on the effort to get Kavanaugh.
The Democrats’ frustration is clear and, to a certain degree, understandable. Embittered over Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss to Trump, they’re confronted with a president whose policies and personality they abhor.
But those are political problems that must be met with political solutions, not half-baked impeachment inquiries that are doomed to fail.
There’s an election next year that can be the answer to all the Democrats’ problems.
All they have to do is win. They’d be well advised to redirect their energy to achieving that goal rather than launching multiple politically hazardous impeachment probes.