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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/2/19

Defeat or Impeach? The (Il)Logic of Impeachment

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I've had the displeasure to watch some hours of the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry. It's an excruciating spectacle, alternately boring, confusing, and infuriating.

Where have the Democrats set the high-crime-and-misdemeanor goalpost today? Is it the "Russian collusion" for which Adam Schiff had "direct evidence " even before the Mueller investigation? How about the "10 different episodes of presidential obstruction of justice" for which Jamie Raskin told us "the evidence is overwhelming"? No, really, they got him on "quid pro quo"! Or is it "abuse of power"? Wait, it's "bribery." Final answer. (They focussed-grouped it!). Bombshells all.

I have no interest in parsing the minutiae of the purported case Schiff is now making against Trump. (I'll leave that to Aaron Mate', who does it so well.) I've said before that I think it's political folly. Here, I would like those who are enthralled by the ongoing impeachment frenzy to focus for a moment on one glaring contradiction in the logic of the Democrats' position--a contradiction that reveals that the Democrats are speaking with forked tongue about what they are actually trying to do

To wit:

Prime Directive A: The Absolute Most Important Thing Ever In The History Of The Universe (or at least The American Republic) Is To Defeat Trump in 2020.

We've heard this incessantly from Democrats since election day 2016. For establishment Democrats, this injunction governs all political discourse and behavior in the party. It has been the bedrock mandate for Democrats going into election 2020, the basis of a hoped-for party discipline in the primary debates. It requires that any "left" candidate (only Bernie and Tulsi could be so characterized, and only Bernie is a real electoral threat) must temper his or her promotion of system-changing social policies like Medicare-for-All or an end to regime-change wars, and refrain from sharply calling out reactionary " nothing will fundamentally change" opponents. The most consequential questions and debates about social policies that affect all Americans must be subordinated to the imperative to win the 2020 presidential election. Don't be divisive. Don't criticize "centrist"--i.e., reactionary and imperialist--Democrats. Vote Blue No Matter Who.

In May, Nancy Pelosi herself defined Democratic strategy--and, it's important to note, her refusal at the time to pursue impeachment--in terms of this injunction, as "focused on pursuing center-left policies she thinks will help her party out in 2020 -- a focus on pragmatic improvements " that emphasizes beating Mr. Trump." And she and her colleagues have continued to enforce that injunction on the Party since.

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Former college professor, native and denizen of New York City. Blogging at www.thepolemicist.net, from a left-socialist perspective. Also publishing on Counterpunch The Greanville Post, Medium, Dandelion Salad, and other sites around the net. (more...)
 

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6 people are discussing this page, with 11 comments  Post Comment


Carol Jackson

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Why resist the cult leaders' take over at all. Rudy and Donald and Bill, and Mike can literally own the country, in perpetuity. They have proven the Constitution does not apply to them and they have violated it on every front. If they declare the 2020 elections invalid, who can challenge them? Impeachment is the only recourse and you can see what that's worth. So, yes, maybe the 2020 elections are the most important thing in the universe, depending on who will recognize or adhere to their results.

Submitted on Monday, Dec 2, 2019 at 6:22:18 PM

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Jim Arnold

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I agree, Carol. I don't know what it is that makes so many otherwise politically savvy people blind to the overriding, massive political danger: If obstruction (outright suppression) of Congress and violation of emoluments don't count for impeachment now, they will never count again. Will Republicans go down alone as violating fundamental constitutional protections, or will Democrats and independents go down with them for allowing it to happen?

Submitted on Monday, Dec 2, 2019 at 7:00:40 PM

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Jim Kavanagh

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See above response to Carol, to which I'll add: Supposed "fundamental constitutional protections" against little things like undeclared wars, universal surveillance, etc. "went down" decades ago, and have been well and truly drowned by Democrats and Republicans alike. And, as I said, in this case, are being further threatened by the CIA-intelligence-military complex that is being used to get Trump. Nothing progressive will come of this.

Submitted on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019 at 6:21:23 PM

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Jim Kavanagh

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Rudy and Donald don't run the country. The permanent national-security state is the "cult" that does, and it's being strengthened by the Dems impeachment process, which is setting a precedent for intelligence agents who disagree with the president's foreign policy to get him impeached. That's going to work out well if someone like Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard is elected. Not to mention that threat to the constitutional order of things. The vaunted Constitution has not applied to any of the Democratic or Republican presidents who have started wars without asking Congress for a declaration of war. (Like Obama, who attacked Libya after congress explicitly voted against it.) The Dems aren't, and would never, impeach Trump for anything like that (his illegal and unconstitutional attack on Syria) because they're all for it, Constitution be damned, and everybody knows it. No, they're going after him for delaying for a few weeks heavy arms to Nazis in Ukraine, which even Obama did not want to send. Besides, it's the Constitution--with its provisions like Electoral College and Senate--that actually gave us Trump and obstructs any progressive change. Better to have spent 3 years dealing with those elements of the Constitution that are precisely part of the problem. Nobody will, or has threatened to, declare the 2020 election invalid. To be honest, it's much more apt to say that the Dems declared the 2016 election invalid, and have been trying to undo it since day one. That is the Repubs argument, and it has traction because it's true. Sorry, I just think this impeachment process is strengthening the most reactionary, authoritarian, and warmongering agencies of the imperial US government and--by the Dems own admission--likely helping Trump get re-elected.

Submitted on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019 at 6:20:48 PM

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Jim and Carol are smartly right on the mark. Fist of all I'm pretty much glued to the law breakers presidency so I see clearly the vast wrongdoing and incompetence. I havent really paid attention to this idea of " the most important thing in the universe" theory mentioned. Trump will be properly impeached, acquitted by a duplicitous senate and power hungry republicans that are no longer of this America. And we will see if the 50 % of people who want him REMOVED come ou to vote him out in 2020.If they do he's gone.If not we've completely lost the country.

Submitted on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019 at 2:25:54 PM

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Jim Kavanagh

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See my comments to Jim and Carol above, to which I'll add: What "country" is there to "lose"? Wasn't any whatever mythical constitutional country "lost" every time with every undeclared war by Johnson, Nixon, Carter (al-Qaeda in Afghanistan), Reagan (Contras, et. al.no Dem impeachment for that), the Bushes, Obama (Libya, Syria, drone assassinations of US citizens, etc.). Not to mention the "loss" of wealth from the working and middle classes (esp black!) to the 1% during the Obama presidency, as well as the "loss" of ~1000 state legislative seats. Trump didn't "lose" any of this and impeachment isn't going to "regain" it; in fact, it will lose even more.

Submitted on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019 at 6:21:53 PM

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Jim Arnold

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What you're arguing amounts to saying "Presidents already get away with unconstitutional foreign policy, why object to unconstitutional domestic policy?"

We can either make a stand and try to build a movement to restore all constitutional principles or acquiesce to the establishment of an unrestrainable imperial presidency.

Submitted on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019 at 7:18:47 PM

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Jim Kavanagh

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No, Jim, what I'm saying is that the actual impeachment process the Dems are enacting is not because of the "unconsittutionality" of either foreign or domestic policy, and that it's not going to result in presidents acting more "constitutionally."
(It you disagree, please explain how you think that will play out. No president will ever again [as many if not all have] seek personal political benefit from a conversation with a foreign leader? i.e., the PM of Israel? Congress is going to police--demand transcripts & witnesses of--all of those conversations? Is there anyone who believes that will happen except when the Congress and/or the natsec/intelligence state is politically opposed to a Pres and his policies?)

It's being done because (just like the Repubs w Clinton) the Dems don't like Trump for a lot of reasons and have been trying to find a way to "un-elect" him since day one (this is obvious to everyone, was made explicit by some, and most Dems will admit it privately), and have now settled on reactionary objections to a particular substantive "national security" policy (arms to Ukraine, which Obama withheld for 2 years!). And that is itself, per Pelosi, not me, a pretext or what it's really about: "It's about Russia.. All roads lead to Putin."). Which means it will only result in intensifying reactionary warmongering. And in the best and worst case, it will empower the intelligence agencies to collude with a reactionary Congress against, oh, say, Pres. Bernie Sanders, for undermining US "national security" by withholding arms to Colombia (or, indeed, to fascist Ukrainians!).

An impeachment is always intensely political, and within it "constitutionality" is always a pretext for a substantive disagreement. What I'm saying is that this impeachment process will have no progressive effect "constitutionally" or otherwise, and in fact can only have a regressive effect.

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 7, 2019 at 7:36:04 PM

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My only hope for Trump is that he does not give "them" "their" long wanted bomb, bomb Iran war. If they sneak that through without Congress declaring, we will find out what side everyone is on? Back 2 years to the day from 7 years in Belgium (Nice relaxed country with a lot going for it, even with higher SS tax that pays for many social needs.), am lucky to have not thrown cell phone through TV cell.

Submitted on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019 at 2:19:24 AM

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Jim Kavanagh

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I'm worried, too, that Trump will use an attack on Iran to immunize himself against Republican defections in the Senate. He's moving 14,000 more troop to the ME explicitly directed against. Iran in my article on how Trump's vacillation about attacking Iran has made impeachment possible (though still highly unlikely), I refer to "veteran political consultant," cited by a conservative blogger, made it specific: "The price of Graham's support" would be an eventual military strike on Iran." See The Empire Steps Back: Trump Withdraws From Syria Impeachment Now Possible click here

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 7, 2019 at 7:43:06 PM

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Thanks, Jim, for a brilliant, insightful piece. You read the foul motives of the thugs controlling the Democratic Party and now pushing the impeachment they once resisted better than any analyst I've seen. Your analysis of the two contradictory Prime Directives is really worth the price of admission. What a promising starting point for deep analysis!


Of course, since BOTH major parties are hell-bent on screwing us here, I continue to make my case for the value of united movements demanding Trump's impeachment for ecocide. Not that Democrats will listen--and there's no longer much time--but I find it CRUCIAL for climate activists promoting the GND to EMBARRASS both major parties heading into the 2020 election. We've got to insert responsible adult policy talk into the national conversation, and an impeachment process amidst a presidential race provides the BEST attention-getting opportunity for doing so. Trump is menacing the end of civilization and Dems don't give a flying frack: THAT is what US citizens MOST need to know.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 5, 2019 at 10:30:56 PM

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