An amusing Wall Street Journal editorial on Wednesday puzzles over the endgame Democrats have in mind with their impeachment at the 11th hour of Donald Trump’s presidency.
“The real Democratic goal may be to keep the impeachment trial in the air for as long as they can to divide Republicans,” the editorial board wrote, adding that a Senate trial that takes place after Trump exits office next week may appear to voters as “vindictive,” “partisan,” and with “no constructive purpose.”
Wait, does the Wall Street Journal mean to suggest that Democrats just may have engaged in their second impeachment with a less than pure heart? You don’t say!
There is really no logical argument in favor of an impeachment vote that came seven days before Trump’s term came to a close. The purpose of impeachment is to charge a president with serious wrongdoing, criminal or otherwise, and pursue his removal from office. It’s not intended to be only a symbolic gesture of disapproval, which is how Democrats have used it twice now.
Impeaching Trump for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters that invaded the Capitol building is not in and of itself a bad idea. If the events of last week had happened even just one month ago, it would be a reasonable course of action. But there isn’t enough time to lay out the case in a Senate trial, where Trump would have a chance to defend himself.
Democrats know that, but they also know that enough shortsighted Republicans feel that they have to distance themselves as much as possible from the president, and what better way to do that than spending the next several weeks publicly criticizing Trump, even when he’s out of office?
It won’t make a difference in the long term, though. Democrats didn’t pursue this for the sake of “accountability,” which will then lead to “unity.” They did it so they could say, for the next 10 years and beyond, that they impeached a crazy Republican president twice, and that Republican president was made all the more crazy with the support of members of his party in Congress.
Democrats are at this very moment calling for “accountability” for pretty much every Republican who ever said a nice thing about Trump. Those people were “complicit,” Democrats say. They’re literally making spreadsheets with the names of Republicans who worked in the administration or who defended the president at any time at all.
Impeachment isn’t intended to close the book on anything. For Democrats, it’s the opening chapter.
For all of President-elect Joe Biden’s talk about “healing,” it’s not something that interests Democrats. It never has been.