Editor’s Note: Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor, is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and a former campaign adviser to US Sen. Mitch McConnell. He is a partner at RunSwitch Public Relations in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenningsKY. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Let me skip to the end: The Democratic-majority US House of Representatives, in partisan fashion, is all but certain to impeach President Donald Trump. The Republican-majority Senate, in partisan fashion, will almost certainly acquit him. And the net result will be that Democrats will have abused the US Constitution to satisfy political passions instead of approaching impeachment as the solemn act the framers intended.
Let’s be honest. The Democrats were always going to do this. From the minute we realized on election night that Donald Trump had won, they began fantasizing about nullifying the election results. Indeed, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, the Democrats’ biggest concern was that Trump would not accept the outcome – a Hillary Clinton win, of course! – of which they were quite certain.
And as it turns out, it was the Democrats who had no intention of accepting it. How odd that they have again become what they claim to detest about Trump.
Over the last three years, the desire to impeach Trump among rank-and-file Democrats has only grown with each outrage, real or manufactured. Even as weak as political parties are these days, one thing remains true – politicians nearly always do what their parties want them to do.
When Republicans took control of Congress, they cut taxes because the members of their party wanted them to. The fantasy for grassroots Democrats – made possible when the party gained a House majority in the 2018 midterm – was to impeach the President.
Today you can listen to the Democrats on your average cable panel claiming their party cares most about health care and social justice. But that’s baloney, as they care principally about one thing – getting rid of Donald Trump as soon as possible.
So here we are with our partisan vote Thursday to approve a resolution setting rules for impeachment, and the process now underway at the direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For months, Democrat talking heads portrayed Pelosi as a reluctant participant in this charade, someone who was restraining her party’s most stridently anti-Trump elements. Poppycock. In my view, she was destined to do this, and this Ukrainian business was simply her last chance before voters began casting ballots in the 2020 election.
Democrats have failed to galvanize public opinion to the view that Trump’s controversial July 25 phone conversation with the Ukrainian president was an impeachable offense. The latest polling shows that Democrats think it is impeachable and Republicans don’t, and that voters in swing states aren’t on board with this yet. In other words, the people who already wanted to impeach Trump are willing to throw any log onto the impeachment fire, no matter how wet the wood is. But virtually no one else is joining in.
The most vocal Trump haters frequently bemoan the lack of “profiles in courage” among Republicans, demanding that someone – anyone – defy their party to impeach the President.
I might ask: where is the Democratic profile in courage, someone willing to stand up to Nancy Pelosi and call the House impeachment what it is: a norm-obliterating, kangaroo court, run by a party that apparently has little confidence in its ability to beat Trump in the next election?
I doubt Trump loses any Republican votes in the Senate during his all-but-certain impeachment trial. And the numerous Senate Democrats running for president will be screaming about it, torn every day between showing up for jury duty and campaigning in Iowa.
In the end, Pelosi is doing nothing but checking a box for the most partisan people in her party. There will be nothing to show for it but wasted time and a diversion of the nation’s political conversation away from issues that real people care about.