By Charles M. Blow, Opinion Columnist, New York Times
What the hell is it going to take, Democrats?!
What evidence and impetus would compel you to do the job the Constitution, patriotism and morality dictate?
What is it going to take to make you initiate an impeachment inquiry?
Your slow walking of this issue and your specious arguments about political calculations are pushing you dangerously close to a tragic, historic dereliction of duty, one that could do irreparable damage to the country and the Congress.
Robert Mueller on Wednesday finally made a public statement about his damning report of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the Trump’s campaign’s connection to it, and President Trump’s own attempts to obstruct the investigation.
In addition to underscoring the point that Russians interfering in the election “deserves the attention of every American,” efforts that continued unabated and have never been sufficiently addressed by Trump, he made clear again:
“And as set forth in the report after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
He made clear, contrary to Attorney General Bill Barr’s assessment, that he was prevented from making that determination based on the Justice Department’s policy against indicting a sitting president. As Mueller puts it, “the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Congress, that means you. Specifically, Democrats in control of the House, that means you!
There is no right time to wait to do what you know is right. There is only now.
This ridiculous windup of processing through subpoenas and court fights, scheduling testimony and hearings, are patrician formalities in the middle of a blood battle.
Stop telling the American people what Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Rolling Stone in February: “It’s a very disruptive process to put the country through, and it’s an opportunity cost in terms of time and resources. You don’t want to go down that path unless it is unavoidable.”
What the hell does that mean? Opportunity cost is an economics term referring to value of something that will be missed due to the making of another choice. It’s all calculation for the leadership, conscience be damned.
The country is already suffering through an unimaginable horror, and watching as a lawless president and a corrupt administration are being allowed to operate carte blanche due to Democrats’ squeamishness about their political prospects and compromised conservatives’ concerns about their own.
Politicians point to Trump’s stratospheric approval among Republicans and the middling approval for impeachment among the broader populations, without acknowledging that they aren’t simply laboring under those realities but helping to create them.
The fact that almost no prominent Republican politician will stand up against Trump and for right and rule of law means that in that universe, Trump’s narrative is the only narrative. Their silence is — or at least gives the appearance of — acquiescence and tacit approval.
The same goes for impeachment. The Democratic leadership in Congress simply won’t forcefully make a case for why it must begin now, for the health of the country. They want instead to have it appear that they have exhausted all options and were forced into the decision, if they ever arrive at that decision.
That is a coward’s way out. Democratic leadership, you are lying to the American people too. You are terribly disappointing all of the many people who organized and registered to vote and came out in droves in the midterms.
Republicans have their fangs bared and you have your tails tucked. You are an embarrassment. There is no polite way to fight. Fighting is nasty, instinctual and vicious. Good people don’t relish it, but goodness dies and ruin is left in its wake when good people don’t fight when fighting is required.
I am at my wits’ end with the fear. I live by a different creed: Never be afraid to do what’s right. And, I don’t believe that opening an impeachment inquiry helps Trump in 2020 and hurts Democrats.
To the contrary, I trust truth. I believe in the eternal power of truth to transform and to withstand the crucible.
Democrats need to stop worrying about how best to weaken Trump’s support among his base. It seems to me that the Democratic leadership is worrying more about Trump’s base than their own.
I want to be able to believe in equitable justice in this country. I want to believe that no person is above the law. I want to believe that wealth and power will not insulate those who possess them from a justice that would be enacted upon the poor and powerless with ruthless efficiency.
But, every time I want to believe that, America — its history and its present — asserts in booming clarity that that is not the case, that is not how or why the system was built.
Democrats have a chance, but more important, an obligation to assert in opposition that on occasion American justice can be blind. I would argue that there is an even more profound opportunity cost to not pursuing impeachment.