Pure politics: Impeachment is a good play

Democrats Republicans

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Let’s imagine that Hillary Clinton won the presidential election in 2016, and had just faced a special counsel investigation that didn’t come close to exonerating her.

Not hard to imagine that. Republicans are still jonesing to investigate Clinton, because, why not.

But, OK. Clinton is president, a special counsel investigated something, collected mounds of evidence of wrongdoing, and declined to refer charges only because somebody long ago set a policy saying that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

Let’s say, next, that public support for impeachment is at 40 percent.

The next election is less than two years away.

How do you imagine congressional Republicans play this?

Again, you don’t have to stretch your brain too much to figure out how.

Public support for the impeachment of Bill Clinton back in 1998 was at just 29 percent, and Republicans played Clinton lying about having an affair into a made-for-TV drama, with a predictable ending.

No, they didn’t really think the Senate was going to vote to remove Bill Clinton from office.

That was all about the next election, in 2000.

Bill Clinton, of course, couldn’t run for a third term, but his vice president, Al Gore, was running for what would have effectively been a third Clinton term.

Despite Clinton having solid public approval numbers in 2000, leaving office with a 65 percent approval rating, the highest for any departing president in the polling era, Gore ran as far away from Clinton as he possibly could, because he was afraid to be tarred for the impeachment.

And, as we know, Gore lost.

Now, we have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocking the initiation of an impeachment inquiry because she’s afraid of the impact it would have on the 2020 election.

That Republicans would turn the impeachment effort into red meat for their base.

That it would backfire and ensure a Trump second term.

News flash: Republicans are already turning the mere thought of an impeachment proceeding into red meat for their base.

They don’t really need much, as it turns out, to fire up their base.

They will, for example, make up out of the thin air that Barack Obama wasn’t actually born in the United States, and their base will eat it up.

You can’t worry about how Republicans will dodge and parry.

They sure as hell don’t worry about what Democrats will do.

There are political consequences for everything – every action, every inaction.

From a pure politics standpoint, impeachment is a good play.

Column by Chris Graham

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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