It could almost have been “Saturday Night Live,” satire intended for giggles instead of what was hypocritically intended. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a speech about impeaching President Donald Trump and cited a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, saying, “Listen my children and you will hear/Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”
Revere, we know, was aiming to alert 18th-century Americans that the British were coming, and Pelosi, minus a horse, was warning that Trump delayed military aid to Ukraine to get Joe Biden. She said this was an assault on the Constitution, that it undermined the republic for which our nation stands and that more horrors could be coming if he stuck around.
Of course, it is the congressional Democrats who have been assaulting the Constitution and undermining the republic, and it was maybe an inner awareness of the fact that sparked this speech laughably intended to signal our founders had returned to revivify our democracy. Pelosi then got a crew of partisan pretenders to pretentiously, elegantly and self-righteously march through the Capitol to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate. It was something like letter delivery by tuxedo-clad postmen.
The fact is that, from the day Trump was elected, we’ve had efforts to overturn a legitimate election through illegitimate means. First, we had an ocean of illegal, misleading leaks and then unverified political dirt along with varied other tall tales used to justify a Russia-collusion investigation that lasted two years, cost millions, disrupted governance and found nothing. But no one was giving up and we then got this House investigation started by a whistleblower who relied on hearsay instead of firsthand information that still did not fit what the Constitution demands for impeachment. Republicans were not allowed to call witnesses in proceedings that came up with no evidence of something that wasn’t a crime anyway.
It was all done in a hurry because the cause was urgent until it wasn’t. For four weeks Pelosi delayed giving the Senate the articles for a trial on the basis of getting the Senate to do what the House wanted even if it had no duty to do any such thing. There is the chance of more evidence coming forth, but it would still be evidence of something that was not impeachable. There has also been this thing about an agency saying the delay broke a law that President Barack Obama broke without a memorable mention in the press. Now we are going to have Senate proceedings that should be as legally correct as possible even though the Senate will still be accused of unconstitutional chicanery if it finds Trump innocent because he is.
Even though I spend a lot of time defending Trump, I do think he was almost as unfit to be president as Hillary Clinton. Most if not all of his policies have been hugely preferable to what she would likely have done and his dishonesty is no worse than hers even if he is in many ways rather disgusting along with his energy and humor.
But outrage at what he is does not make it OK to destroy our system of government, never consider the other side of things, to magnify truly despicable faults into something 10 times worse than what they are and assume any means is justified by his end. I know there are those worried that he will overreach in some disastrous way or, for instance, that he will not address climate change they see as an existential threat. There is a democratic answer, however, and that’s to find an opposing presidential candidate who isn’t scarier.
Jay Ambrose is an OpEd columnist for Tribune News Service.