What a trip.
For the first time since, well, the last time it happened and went absolutely nowhere, articles of impeachment against President Trump were introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon by Rep. Al Green of Texas, the same Democratic backbencher who produced them in 2017. Some 137 of his colleagues voted with 194 Republicans to kill the measure. Simply beautiful.
It's not clear to me what Green wanted to accomplish here. I thought for sure that campaign finance records would show that his antics in 2017, when he argued for Trump's impeachment on the grounds that the president had said rude things about NFL players, had paid off on the fundraising circuit. But he appears to have raked in less money in 2018 than he did in the previous cycle. Second time's a charm?
In any case, it's painfully obvious that the leadership of Green's party is not behind him. "We have six committees working on following the facts in terms of any abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and the rest that the president may have engaged in," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters on Wednesday. This is in keeping with the strategy she has pursued ever since Democrats returned to the majority seven months ago. Pelosi understands that even if a majority of Democrats — including those representing districts won by Trump in 2016 — got behind it, impeachment would be a dead letter in the Senate. Besides, impeachment does not poll well in places like Michigan.
This is why, instead of pretending that Trump can be impeached for tweeting, Pelosi is making effective use of the actual powers of her office by allowing her party to hold the kind of pointless hearings that the GOP were so fond of during President Obama's second term.
In other words, it's still silly season. Democrats also voted on Wednesday to hold both Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, as if the administration of census were not absolutely within the scope of executive authority. Somehow I get the sense the attorney general and the commerce secretary won't lose much sleep over the House equivalent of a mall-cop parking ticket. I suspect that these slaps on the wrist of whoever happens to be leading the Justice Department from the opposition party in the House is going to remain a semi-annual American tradition, like, well, congressional elections. Hurray.
Meanwhile, four days after his his now-infamous comments about Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), GOP support for Trump is headed through the roof. It's almost like a significant portion of the Republican base has been waiting for their commander-in-chief to say this stuff for years. Trump is nothing if not an obliging showman. There is a kind of vicious logic to it. Ninety-two percent of all Trump-related news coverage is negative anyway. Why get called out for a dog whistle when you can get denounced for a 5,000-watt car amp?
He isn't going to stop. On Wednesday evening, Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters in Greenville, North Carolina. Early in his remarks he accused Omar, who seems to be his favorite target among the four freshmen congresswomen collectively known as "the Squad," of being anti-Semitic. The fact that his audience immediately responded to this with cries of "Send her back!" is how you know they are worried about the problem of bigotry in America. (Besides, "Lock her up" is so 2016.) This will not be the last time we hear this or similar chants at one of the president's rallies.
It will also not be the last time the media assumes that something they find utterly beyond the pale will be offensive to the millions of Americans who adore Trump. They will continue to be wrong. This epistemic disjuncture should be alarming.