FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Cults of Impeachment

It is a giddy intoxicant, and making all who partake fall over in puddling nonsense. The Mueller Report is not turning out to be the cleansing agent any of its readers were hoping for. Originally encouraged to identify the cause behind Trumpland and its dark side, the agent of disaffection, the root of madness, it has done as much to disrupt as any Donald Trump show. The Democrats continue to fret about what to do, and find themselves squabbling.

The Mueller Report, supposedly a document of deliverance, threatens to fracture the anti-Trump camp. A hard line on impeachment is being pushed by the snarlers, those of the Ocasio-Cortez camp, a reminder that youth and enthusiasm can lag behind wisdom and application. The centrists seem more uneasy about the whole thing, worried that such enthusiasm may serve to harden electoral resolve against them.

Robert Mueller’s statement last Wednesday, announcing a closing of the Special Counsel’s Office and an overview of the report’s findings, was a brief recapitulation of furrowed ground. But, as ever, he left a few crumbs of excitement for those overly exercised about implications.

As Mueller explained, indictments touching on Russian cyber intervention in the US elections of 2016 and a “social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election” did not entitle him to comment on guilt or innocence. Further investigation, he suggested, was required, leaving enough for Democrats keen on process to salivate.

Mueller affirmed that there was “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy” regarding Trump-Russia collusion. But he also threw both sides of the Trump divide a bone. For the Democrats, he claimed that, “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.” For the Trump cheer squad, he also noted that the investigation “did not […] make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.” This had as much to do with operating protocol as anything else: the Department of Justice does not charge Presidents with federal crimes while in office. “That is unconstitutional.”

What is left is the need for another avenue to get to the President, one “other than the criminal justice” route. This point sent a good number among the cult of the impeachers into a flutter. But as with President Bill Clinton, an impeachment process can see a rise rather than fall in the popularity of the incumbent. Transforming a mechanical and for the most part prosaic 448-page report into a narrative of obstruction and corruption for US voters will drive advocates to distraction. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is at least aware that impeachment remains a political act – “you cannot impeach a president if the American people will not support it.”

That message and warning from history is not evidently making it to the progressive wing. Voices such as those of Ezra Levin, co-founder of the liberal activist group Indivisible, claims “a real danger if Democrats fail to have message clarity and moral clarity when it comes to this. There will be a real question of how they’ll ever motivate people to vote for them.”

Markos Moulitsas, the force behind progressive blog DailyKos, is equally adamant. “This notion that Democrats are going to catch [Trump’s] voters sleeping if they just tip-toe around this utterly ignores the reality that Trump’s old, white, male base of support is the most reliable voting constituency in this country.” The Democrats’ best focus is on their constituency base – and so, a return to polarising form is guaranteed.

At the California Democratic Party convention on Saturday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted to keep a middling approach. “This isn’t about politics, it isn’t about partisanship, Democrats versus Republicans, no. It’s about patriotism, it’s about the sanctity of the Constitution and it’s about the future of our nation.”

For all that, Pelosi seems incapable of convincing the wobblers. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have pivoted away from their previously cautious positions on impeachment in light of the Mueller Report findings. “History is going to look back at this moment and what we choose to do,” Booker explained to MSNBC. “I think the right thing now is to hold this president accountable for his actions.” Representative Karen Bass of California of the Black Caucus suggests that there might be “no alternative but to move to impeachment” though resists pinning her colours to the mast just yet.

Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), on the other hand, senses a dangerous distraction. Her own special contribution about the Mueller Report is one of continuing Russian influence. (The Kremlin remains oppressively spectral for such figures.) “There is a theme that is throughout this report about how Russia is trying to divide this country. I don’t want to play into Russia’s hands and divide this country more with a partisan impeachment.” Dingell supplies us the perfect psychological portrait of current Democratic thinking, admitting to being “totally schizophrenic right now about all the different things that are in there.” Democrat strategists are bound to confuse this state of mind for constructive debate.

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 19, 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
Kenneth Surin
In China Again
Stephen Cooper
Abolishing the Death Penalty Requires Morality
George Ochenski
The DNC Can’t Be Allowed to Ignore the Climate Crisis
John W. Whitehead
The Omnipresent Surveillance State
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
Guaidó’s Star Fades as His Envoys to Colombia Allegedly Commit Fraud With Humanitarian Funds for Venezuela
Dave Lindorff
What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?
Howard Lisnoff
Try Not to Look Away
Binoy Kampmark
Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine
Karl Grossman
The Battle to Stop the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, Revisited
Kani Xulam
Farting in a Turkish Mosque
Dean Baker
New Manufacturing Jobs are Not Union Jobs
Elizabeth Keyes
“I Can’t Believe Alcohol Is Stronger Than Love”
June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail