Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Anyone who believes that Trump is a liar, cheap, totally corrupt, and colossally unfit for the White House, the impeachment hearing wasn’t needed to reaffirm that belief. In fact, having a parade of witnesses, a mountainous page of supposed evidence, and legions of Democrats within and without the Committee and Congress saying that Trump is a crook and unfit for office was a waste of time. For those who believe that Trump did nothing wrong and buy Trump and the GOP’s stock line that it is all a sneaky, backdoor, below the belt ploy by sour grapes Democrats to unravel the 2016 presidential election victory Trump’s the impeachment hearing wasn’t needed to reaffirm that. Or, as their ringmaster said “it’s all bullshi…” And there’s no reason to think the upcoming House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment will be any different.
Polls repeatedly showed that. The deeply polarized lines between Trump loathers and Trump lovers is even more tightly drawn after the hearing. So, what was really the point of it all? The Democrats firmly retort they have a solemn constitutional and legal duty to act against Trump’s blatant subvert of the law. That’s true. But it’s also true that this is exactly what opens the door for Trump and the GOP to retort that there’s no a smoking gun document or tape or some hard evidence to prove that he broke the law in the Ukraine folly. Absent that, it’s just one deeply partisan, opposition party’s interpretation of what the Constitution says a president can and can’t do and what Trump did or didn’t do that skirted the law and the Constitution.
The House Intelligence Committee may ultimately succeed in its effort to pry some testimony out of Trump intimates. That is those who supposedly know what really went on in the conversation and dealings between Trump and the Ukrainian President. Even so, it will still be blown off by Trump and the GOP as second-hand gossip, hearsay, and massaged by Democrats to harden their case against Trump. The only winner here is the cable news and talk show ratings.
This is why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and some of the cannier among the GOP make noble sounds that they welcome a House impeachment. The GOP will reap a media and public bonanza in spinning away its smoke and mirrors, witch hunt, and vindictive partisan line about impeachment. With the clock ticking down to November 2020, the GOP counter will further inflame and infuriate GOP voters and conservative independents in the five must win states to storm the polls to repudiate the Democrats alleged cynical plot to win back the White House on the cheap.
Some Democrats have continually warned of this danger. A few have even gone so far as to now say that’s it’s clear the two sides are frozen in place after the hearings. Therefore, the better bet is to back away from impeachment and just do a censure motion of Trump that could quickly be passed and then move on. That’s, of course, not in the cards. The Democrats are locked into impeaching and the GOP is locked into turning it on its head for political advantage.
The one hope for the Democrats is that that an unwavering impeachment bill of goods against Trump will pay big dividends at the polls. That it will further pump up the Democratic vote totals in those same key swing states that will decide the White House. The hearings alone though won’t do that. This will take a sold ground game, and a solid set of initiatives in all the key areas from health care to climate change to criminal justice reform to do that. That’s even more vital in light some polls that show that the trend is running solidly against impeachment in several of those states. Those states unfortunately for Democrats are states that Trump narrowly won in 2016 and will make a huge push to win again in 2020.
Wisely, the Democratic presidential candidates have said almost nothing about impeachment. It’s simply too much of a distraction from the business of trying to sell voters on the viability of their candidacy while at the same time giving voters something to vote for and not against; namely Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly played it relatively low keyed throughout the hearings. The danger of overplaying the hand with her as the face of impeachment would also give Trump and the GOP even more ammunition to paint impeachment as a vile, vindictive Democratic party witch hunt. Pelosi remains toxic and a flashpoint boggy person for the GOP to waive around in front of GOP voters.
The best that can be said about the impeachment hearing is that the Democrats largely did what they set out to do and that’s make the case again that Trump is a disaster in the White House and must go. The GOP made its shaky case that he’s nothing of the sort and should stay. You didn’t need the hearings for to make either case.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Who Can Beat Trump?: America’s Choice 2020https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KVM86C6 He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.