In both its news and opinion sections, the Washington Post has been beating the drum for impeaching President Trump. However, two op-eds in today’s paper, both by writers with a strong aversion to Trump, are unimpressed with the case for impeachment. The op-eds are good evidence that the impeachment process isn’t playing out the way Democrats had hoped it would.
Kathleen Parker, a moderate, argues with “disappointment” that the case for impeachment simply isn’t there. David Von Drehle, a liberal, doesn’t take a position on the merits. His concern is with the futility of impeachment proceedings, which he seems to believe will redound to President Trump’s advantage.
Von Drehle is critical of both Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. He complains that Schiff, in his rush to impeach, hasn’t done enough to develop the evidence in favor of this measure. For example, Schiff has been unwilling to use the courts.
Nadler draws fire from Von Drehle for using law professors to try to advance the impeachment ball — a move that he says cannot have changed a single American mind. Von Drehle ridicules, as I did, professor Michael Gerhardt’s claim that “if what we’re talking about is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable.”
This offense that House Democrats can’t be bothered to fully investigate, can’t be troubled to thoroughly document, can’t discipline themselves to coil into a mortal blow — this is the very worst thing any president could conceivably do? No crime will ever be impeachable unless this halfhearted mess is seen through to defeat?
Gerhardt’s statement is the sort of vacuous hyperbole people fall back on to prepare themselves for a wasteful gesture. We must do this thing because really, we have no choice. The sacrifice will be rewarded in the sweet by and by. You either nod along, or you think critically; you can’t do both. And once you’ve accepted the professor’s assertion that Schiff’s committee has fully nailed down the most egregious crime any president could commit, the rest is fated. Like a soldier in the trenches of World War I, you just hope your death is made more glorious by its tragic inevitability.
I disagree with Von Drehle to the extent he thinks that the impeachment proceedings are playing into Trump’s hands. My view has been that impeachment will either have no impact on the election or will have a slightly negative effect on Trump’s prospects.
But after listening to the law professors last week, I can understand why Von Drehle, from his anti-Trump perspective, is worried.