As US Turns on Impeachment, Report Says Dems Could Take Easy Way Out


Watching the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing with Twitter in the background Wednesday was a bit like a law school seminar combined with a midnight screening of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Sure, there were a lot of arguments as to why President Donald Trump should or shouldn’t be impeached. (Mostly should, since three of the four professors invited — quelle surprise — were in favor of impeachment, one so vehemently she decided to invoke the president’s adolescent son as part of a quip.)

All right, then — whose opinions were changed by what happened on Wednesday? Probably no one’s — which was the problem for Democrats.

No one, at least on Twitter, seemed particularly swayed by what The Washington Post called the “peer review phase.”

Instead, what we got were canine quips about Jonathan Turley’s goldendoodle or the fact that Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (whose lack of control over the proceedings should greatly worry Democrats for what’s to come) looked like a human version of Droopy Dog.

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When this thing goes to the Senate, absent evidence of the John Dean-esque variety, this thing will fail along a party-line vote the same way it will probably get there along a party-line vote. I suppose that’s one way to get Republicans on the record in terms of how they feel about impeachment — except Americans aren’t necessarily for impeachment, at least the way Democrats thought they’d be.

So, the Democrats may be considering a solution forwarded by Democrats during the Clinton impeachment: Censure.

CNN’s Bianna Golodryga reported Tuesday there were “rumblings” among the Democratic caucus that censure might be the most they could hope for — and it would save them the issue of dealing with an impeachment trial that would be unpopular in swing states.

“You’re now hearing rumblings within, Democrats saying, ‘Maybe we should just go with censure,’ or not really knowing how to move forward on this given where the president is and given where Republicans are,” Golodryga said, according to The Hill.

Do you think Democrats would be satisfied with a vote to censure President Trump?

Part of that, Golodryga said, was the fact that Democrats realized they hadn’t changed the opinions of moderate Republicans at all. Potential GOP converts, like Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, haven’t shifted over to the Democrat side and decided the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Meanwhile, the more stalwart members of the GOP — Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York was mentioned — haven’t shown any tendency toward tempering their views with the evidence that’s been presented.

“They said that they do not believe anything the president did was impeachable and, in fact, they seem to be protecting the president more than they were prior to these two weeks,” Golodryga said

A look at the polls by The Washington Post additionally complicated things for the Democrats.

While Americans in national polling support impeachment — 47 percent for as opposed to 43 percent opposed — in the major swing states, the average is 51 percent opposed and 44 percent in favor. The polling average covered Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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Impeachment is underwater with independents too, with 42 percent in favor with 44 percent opposed.

Overall, the analysis of the polling found the president’s approval rating has remained steady throughout this.

In a CNN opinion piece published Tuesday, commentator Douglas Heye argued Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ought to keep censure on the table, given how things were going.

”Congress, Democrats see everything as evidence of Trump’s guilt, while most Republicans joyfully wear blinders. These two different realities show that Speaker Pelosi’s initial concern over beginning impeachment proceedings was correct: there is simply no way an impeachment vote will be bipartisan,” Heye wrote.

“If the House Intelligence Committee hearings could not convince Republican Rep. Will Hurd to support impeachment, it’s clear no Republican will do so, and, in fact, some swing district Democrats who have heard loudly from constituents opposed to impeachment may vote nay.”

How appropriate censure is will be a matter of opinion, same as impeachment was. The difference is that GOP representatives will be voting on whether they thought the Ukraine call and the withholding of aid was right, which is a different matter from a high crime or misdemeanor.

Censure would be a more difficult political matter for Republicans, given that pundits would more easily seize upon if the GOP didn’t break ranks and at least condemn Trump.

However, whether or not Democrats are willing to settle is quite another matter. After all, the scarlet letter “I” sounds a lot better than mere censure — and the inquiry hasn’t exactly been a robust process designed to produce a halfway solution.

In the Bill Clinton era, Democrats actually sought a censure resolution as an alternative to impeachment, but one was defeated by the House Judiciary Committee. The other was blocked in the Senate.

If the left settles for a censorious compromise, your average Daily Kos Democrat will be enraged. They expected this to be the moment when Trump was dragged before the Senate for a trial, not an occasion for a slap on the wrist. And yet, the polls — particularly in swing districts and states — don’t look good for them.

In short, it’s going to be yet another passive-aggressive battle between the party’s activist base and the moderates and independents they actually need to win over. Have fun with that one.

Either way, this is more evidence the Democrats’ case is far from what Adam Schiff called “ironclad” just a week and change ago.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture