Constitutional Crisis or Tactical Stalemate?

Ideas and Issues

New Orleans      The latest gambit by the Trump White House is to simply refuse to cooperate with any investigation by the House committees tasked with the job.

The lawyers for Trump make the specious claim that no investigation is legitimate without an actual vote on impeachment, which of course denies the reality that the House has special and standing committees, whether under Republican or Democratic control, that do nothing but investigate actions of governmental bureaucracies, officials, and the executive branch, including the actions of the President.  Checks and balances, as most school children would remember, are a distinctive fundamental of the American system of government, much admired around the world.

The equally ridiculous assertion by the President is that all of this is much ado about nothing and an effort to rerun the 2016 election, making Trump’s claim to the seat illegitimate.   Trump is obsessed with the 2016 election.  The only person who wants a rerun there might be Trump himself, hoping this time he might actually win the popular vote, rather than end up with an asterisk by his home run, as not the fan favor of the majority of the electorate.  Every day we all live with the horror of this presidency translated into domestic and international policy.  There is not one iota of doubt about the results of the 2016 election and the grieving is permanent.  Trump needs to get over it, even though millions never will because they have been sentenced to the adverse consequences of his policies or at least the policies of people acting in his name.

This fabricated stalemate looks like the most cynical of political calculations from Trump and the White House.

First, it is about delay.  Trump would love to be able to run as the aggrieved, underdog in 2020, making the issue of impeachment and investigation the centerpiece of his election rather than the diminishing of America’s position in the world and the division and pain he has inflicted on the country domestically.  If he can stretch this process out or frustrate it in some way another six to nine months, he will be in full-on campaign mode and will no longer have to pretend to be governing.

Second, it’s a sucker move.  Trump would love to bait Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats into an impeachment vote that forces his House Republicans to drag themselves prematurely into the boiling cauldron with him and take all the Democrats off the sidelines as well.  Luckily, Pelosi has proven herself immune to this so far, but…the press and various media are spoiling for a fight and a constitutional cage fight, and that amps the pressure up on everyone.

I’m not a fan of impeachment no matter how much Trump provokes or deserves it.  I would rather beat him at the polling booths than in the courts.  I hope Trump’s gambit fails.  Let the investigations bleed him out and wear out the public and his base with the thousand inflicted cuts he has administered to himself.  Let the polls favoring him being gone rise higher and higher, so they look more like an exit poll than an opinion poll.

Don’t take the bait.  Stay the course and dig the knives deeper.