It’s not difficult to watch the impeachment of President Donald Trump and think to yourself that you’re watching Democrats walk into a trap. That said, neither you nor I am an expert on public opinion, no matter how many strongly worded letters I get about my work.
John Zogby is. After three-and-a-half decades of polling, his last name is pretty much synonymous with public opinion — and he agrees with the assessment that the Democrats are walking into an ambush of their own making.
In a Wednesday piece for the New York Daily News, Zogby said that Democrats should go through with censure but that impeachment would be “a very big mistake.”
Mind you, Zogby isn’t a fan of 45: “President Trump is a symptom of a very real rift in our culture and our politics. He has exploited that chasm and found a way to both use it for his own purposes and worsen it,” Zogby wrote. “For this reason alone, he is the worst man to ever occupy the White House and he deserves all the condemnation that he will receive from historians in the future.”
Tell us how you really feel. However, that doesn’t mean impeachment should be the answer.
Zogby said that “impeachment is a big mistake, a very big mistake. Democrats, who have never quite come to grips with the fact that they really lost the 2016 election and that a majority of the Electoral College actually gave a clown a majority of votes, have walked into a trap.”
“Pure and simple, the president will not be removed from office. Even the toughest prosecutors around would never bring a case to trial if they believe the evidence will not persuade a jury to convict,” he said.
“And regardless of the clear evidence of abuse of power and soliciting bribery, the jury of the U.S. Senate will not convict the president. The public’s support for impeachment, let alone removal from office, is actually down a few points after the bombshell public hearings in the House.”
Zogby noted that the president’s approval rating has actually gone up over the course of the impeachment hearings, reaching 44 percent. Further, some projections of unemployment have it at 3.25 percent next year — just in time for the election.
And, as Zogby pointed out, the outcome was mostly a fait accompli in both houses: a yes vote in the lower chamber, a no vote in the upper.
“So why pursue it? If, as leading Democrats say, it is a matter of principle, then where was that principle when President Clinton was having an affair with an intern in his employ and when he lied to a grand jury? And where was the outrage over principle when President George W. Bush lied to Congress, the public, and the United Nations about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?” he wrote.
“Elections are supposed to be the will of the people, only overturned for the gravest reasons. When I polled for Reuters three weeks after the contested election of 2000, I found that only 57% of those who voted for Al Gore agreed that if Bush were declared the winner, he would actually be the ‘legitimate’ President. But even worse, two in three Bush voters said that Gore would be ‘illegitimate.’
“When Mitch McConnell said in 2010 that his No. 1 priority in leading Senate Republicans was to ensure that President Obama would get only one term, he was essentially saying again that elections do not matter if my candidate doesn’t win.
“We are in the same predicament with impeachment. Both sides have their own facts, their own base, their own reality — and neither side is about to back down. Thus we are left with the only reason for actually going through with the process: to make a point,” he continued.
“And that is what is so troubling. We live in a world where all we do is make a point.”
Zogby then implored Congress to do work on actual legislation.
“Impeachment isn’t going to work. It won’t make us better. It won’t heal any wounds. Impeachment will only leave us where we started: hopelessly split as a nation,” he said.
“I think the House should instead vote to censure the president for the charges they have developed. Then pass bills on infrastructure, immigration, minimum wage and more — and use those as their platform going into 2020. That would make a real point.”
Well, that’s not the point they made. And, as Caesar was fond of saying, alea iacta est. The Democrats now own impeachment, for better or for worse.
I’m sure in the Democrats’ opinion, it’s for the better. We hear about the asterisk that’s put on the president, the scarlet I. And what’s that going to mean? We’ve known it was heading toward this since the moment Donald Trump was elected. Nobody — not Democrats, not Republicans, not independents — is surprised by this.
As for this being a matter of principle, the Democrats are having trouble even defining what the crime is supposed to be. It’s a matter of politics. It always has been.
And, if the Democrats were going to base this on faux principle, it would have helped if this weren’t an electoral trap. The numbers don’t lie: This isn’t going to work out well for them.
I’d like to say this is all a big fat waste of our time. It’s entertaining television, but it’s absolutely meaningless in the long run. We know what the results are going to be. The only interesting thing will be the particulars. Will Nancy Pelosi really withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate if she doesn’t get the trial that she wants? Will the Democrats’ sudden concern for the process mean the news actually has to examine it? Will any of the Bidens get called as witnesses?
Beyond that, there’s absolutely nothing to be concerned about other than how much electoral momentum the Democrats manage to shed. Good work, everyone.
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