Steve Kornacki, sitting in with Rachel Maddow at MSNBC on the 4th of July, wanted to explain something to viewers about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of pursuing impeachment of Donald Trump with the midterms looming.
Kornacki presented his perspective as objective, but it was clearly an argument against pushing for impeachment as election season nears. His argument rested largely on the notion that by impeaching Bill Clinton in 1998 for covering up an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, House Republicans had over-reached and damaged themselves politically.
Kornacki supported that theory by citing six House seats gained by Democrats in the 1998 midterms, arguing that, historically, the opposition party -- which with a Democratic president was the Republican Party -- would have been likely to gain, not lose, seats.
Kornacki added for context an interview with a contrite former Republican congressman from Virginia, who lamented having taken part in the Clinton impeachment proceedings because, unsurprisingly, it had damaged House Republicans and brought about the downfall of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.
This logic is so tortured on so many levels that it leaves open the question of the underlying motivation for going there.
First, not to let the air out of the tire too quickly, there isn't going to be any impeachment proceeding in the House before November. Not of Donald Trump, not as long as Paul Ryan and the Republicans are in control. So it's a purely political discussion about what Democratic House members should say or not say.
The conservative Democrats, in a surprising development, want the progressive Democrats to shut up about impeachment because they think it will hurt the Democrats' chances of taking back the house in November. Kornacki seems prepared to lend his support.
The comparison of the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky with impeachment proceedings in the Trump-Russia case is really the mother of all false-equivalence arguments.
Donald Trump is not under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for an affair with an intern, and Bill Clinton never should have been. Donald Trump is under investigation for conspiring with agents of Russia to sway the presidential election in his favor and for executing the will of Russian president Vladimir Putin from the Oval Office.
Obstruction of justice in the firing of the FBI director, money laundering, tax evasion, and general unbridled corruption on a staggering scale are some of the other issues Mueller and his team are looking into. These are by far the most serious allegations ever made against a sitting American president.
American democracy is under immediate, direct threat. Donald Trump and his enablers are engaged in an effort to destroy the rule of law and remake it as an instrument of their power.
The decision on impeachment should be governed by the facts. If the facts support impeachment, then the members are sworn to act on that. Again, these are the most serious charges ever brought against a sitting American president. This is it. If the members of Congress do not act, they are corrupt and complicit.
For any member of Congress to remain silent, knowing what they know, invites and emboldens the authoritarian revolution underway in our nation's Capitol. Failure to speak out now is one of the few things that can scuttle the Democrats' excellent chances this November.
Silence itself is now the enemy.
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