The Polarizing Impeachment Trial — A Miscalculation by the Democrats
Author: Greg Valliere
February 11, 2021
THE GRAPHIC IMAGES OF VIOLENCE AT THE CAPITAL gripped this city yesterday, as both parties re-lived the deadly Jan. 6 riot. As we cautioned during January, the impeachment trial has sucked the oxygen out of every other issue; it has invigorated Donald Trump’s base; and it’s destined to fail.
SOME DAY IT MAY BE CLEAR — from books, emails and testimony from insiders — that Trump not only incited the riot, but did nothing for hours to stop it. But that narrative will not prevail in the trial, and Trump will be acquitted within days.
JOE BIDEN HAS WISELY stayed away from the impeachment trial, but he now risks a loss of momentum for his legislation. The handful of GOP Senators who will vote to convict Trump will need to make amends to furious conservative voters, so they will reject the Biden Covid aid bill; it’s possible that not one Republican will vote for it.
THE CALL FOR UNITY at Biden’s inauguration is a distant memory; the bitterly partisan trial will leave Republicans determined to reject all of Biden’s legislative proposals. Democrats thus will embrace reconciliation, which will shut out the GOP.
THE GOP’S TRUMP WING is still dominant; the new drive for a third party — comprised of center-right conservatives — has delighted the Washington media, but a third party headed by Mitt Romney or John Kasich has little chance in today’s climate.
WHEN THE FULL CONGRESS RETURNS after the President’s Day recess, the focus will switch back to Biden’s agenda. He’s gotten off to a pretty good start; Biden has solid political instincts. But the impeachment trial hasn’t helped him — or the climate in Washington.
TRUMP’S CLOUT WITHIN THE PARTY eventually will fade, as Republicans conclude that his base alone cannot win a general election. But as an acquittal looms, we remember that Trump once famously said he could walk up Fifth Avenue, shooting people, and his supporters would not abandon him.
THAT’S STILL TRUE — so why energize those supporters, picking at the Trump scab once again, when there’s important legislation to consider? The polarizing impeachment trial was a miscalculation by the Democrats; they should have simply censured him, letting district attorneys to bring charges.
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