Wednesday, June 5, 2019

For the Record: Impeachment is another Great Pumpkin

Lengthy exchange with some no doubt good-hearted young person that I should probably forget about but it rankles:

What legal experts all agree? What transformation does the word "impeachment" work? I looked up an authoritative source for what are all these fabulous powers House Judiciary will get by changing the name of its hearing, and I have to say I wasn't too impressed:

He'd rather give up on the project of exposing the president's crimes than be seen as submitting to the tyranny of Nancy Pelosi? What's our aim here? I'm serious about that Great Pumpkin analogy; we seem to keep getting perennially sucked into the same pattern of sitting around waiting for a savior to come around and punish the wicked and after that everything will be fine, and never learning that it doesn't work that way. There was the Great Pumpkin of the Mueller Report—just wait till it comes out!—and following that Mueller's live testimony. Both are extremely important, too, and the Report is an extraordinary and extraordinarily valuable document as far as it goes, but no, neither brought us a new heaven and a new earth and wiped the tear from every eye. It didn't happen. So now it's the use of the word "impeachment", and the demonization of Speaker Pelosi, who cruelly prevents it from entering the discussion.

My own view on this is that the timing of how we deploy the word is a relatively minor tactical matter, unlikely to make a huge difference either way, and that we're not really going to be able to control it very well in any case. I see Pelosi as something akin to Tolstoy's Marshal Kutuzov, the much-mocked one-eyed oldster who destroyed Napoleon's army in 1812 by allowing it to destroy itself instead of attacking it head-on. She could be wrong about the dangers of the impeachment word, or not. But the danger of a Great Pumpkin myth is the passivity it encourages among the believers, who stop trying to achieve the goals that the savior is going to deliver for them and instead devote their energies to arguing about the theology of it. Instead of fighting Trump, you decide to fight Pelosi and I decide to fight you. This isn't productive.

To me, the main thing is what the public believes about Trump. It is on that that impeachment depends, not what Pelosi rules the committees should be talking about. That's what the politicians in the House care about, their voters, as they should.  Real action to get rid of this president will happen when the public wants it to, not when Pelosi says it should, and the one non-passive thing we can do for now is to help people understand what the Mueller report says and what the Trump record is.

Five hours later, our young friend came back with what he apparently thought was devastating evidence that he was right:

I can't really follow the thread because one of the participants is Armando from Daily Kos who blocked me for some reason (pretty sure he believes I'm exactly the kind of leftist that the Godless Lib is mad at me for not being), but no, I'm not seeing anywhere what bmaz thinks these amazing powers are or where they're coming from. He doesn't mention a rule or link a source.

And my interlocutor didn't hear a word I said.

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