To paraphrase actor Bill Murray's line from the 1982 movie "Tootsie": "That is one nutty impeachment."
President Donald Trump stood in front of tens of thousands of cheering supporters at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan, Wednesday night, grinning and proudly wearing his impeachment like a badge of courage. Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who had proclaimed it a sad and solemn occasion, had to give her fellow Democrats the evil eye, snap her head around and shush her party members after they began to applaud once she announced the results of the impeachment vote in the Capitol's House chamber.
Those were the odd bookend scenes after the first step in a once-vaunted and rarely considered method to remove a United States president that had been reduced in this instance to a partisan, political exercise.
Trump, the president Democrats never expected, don't respect and can't stomach, stood officially charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is only the third president to be given such an impeachment brand.
Pelosi, who said earlier this year impeachment should be considered only in the most dire of circumstance and with bipartisan support, could not even muster every member of her party to vote for the articles. No Republican voted for them.
As much as it must pain them, Democrats in the run-up to Wednesday's vote had to watch Trump's popularity improve, the support for impeachment decline and Trump's chances for re-election soar. In a rarity for any incumbent or nonincumbent Republican this far ahead of Election Day, a U.S. Today/Suffolk University poll this week found the president leading every one of his main rivals in a survey of registered voters.
Oh, for sure, nothing is certain. The president still must be tried on the charges in the Republican-led Senate. Until the impeachment votes, that was expected to be in January.
Now, Pelosi, the master strategist, says she may wait to send the charges to the Senate. Her intimation was gleefully seen by breathless Democrats as a potential threat to Trump. She would, her national media lackeys surmised, hold the charges until Democrats are allowed to set the terms for the trial. That way, the Republicans can't acquit Trump and will leave him exposed with a big "I" hanging over his head.
Although that is the talk, we can't believe Democrats are that slow on the uptake.
Any intentional delay reads only as sour grapes to a voting public that already believes impeachment has been a craven process. Further, any delay continues to keep Trump in the spotlight when the early months of 2020 should be about finding him an opponent in the fall. And Republicans in the Senate, just as Democrats did in the House, will set their own trial rules, thank you.
The result of a Senate trial, barring something completely unforeseen, will be an acquittal for the president. Pelosi knew that last winter when she laid down her then-terms for impeachment. She knew it would harden his support, make him a sympathetic character. And he does that well enough on his own. But that wasn't the way to win back the presidency.
Nevertheless, the drumbeat from representatives of her increasingly left-creeping party, especially after the more than 2-year-long Mueller report basically exonerated Trump from colluding with Russians on interference in the 2o16 election, demanded action. Pleading for his income taxes hadn't work. Mistress allegations went nowhere. Screaming "recession" was undone by the facts.
There was simply in the country, to use the president's words from the campaign, "too much winning." And Democrats weren't doing it.
So, with 2020 candidates stacking up like cordwood and envisioning America as a socialist utopia, the party needed a gimmick.
As Ms. Mazeppa explained to Louise in the musical "Gypsy," "You can sacrifice your saccro working in the back row. Bump in a dump till you're dead. Kid, you gotta have a gimmick if you wanna get ahead."
Enter the still anonymous whistleblower, who heard from someone who heard from someone about a July call Trump made to the new president of Ukraine. Well, continued the whistleblower, he supposedly agreed to do something about aid if they did something about looking into the Bidens, or something like that.
On such an allegation, the impeachment of a president occurred. Oh, there were secret hearings, one-sided rules, public hearings and testimony from more people who didn't know anything definitive, but, as law professor Jonathan Turley testified, the record against the president is "almost wafer thin."
But now it's a done deal. Impeachment is the hill Democrats chose to stand on. It also likely to be the one they'll figuratively die on.