House Democrats are making speeches about the portentous and solemn process of removing a president from office by impeachment. America is yawning.
There is no more dramatic example of the bubble around Washington.
I wonder if House Democrats know they are only providing fodder for cable news channels and Twitter. Out here in the rest of the country people who hate President Trump are cheering and everyone else is just further disgusted by the investigation spectacle of the past three years.
The Democrats are doing everything they can to re-elect Trump. And the latest boost is what Trump calls “impeachment lite.” Pundits are beginning to wonder why nobody in the real world thinks this is a constitutional crisis. America was totally focused on Watergate and on Bill Clinton’s sexcapades but this time around not so much. Polls bounce around, but the bottom line seems to be, do whatever it takes for all this mess to go away.
If you are old enough to remember Richard Nixon and the Watergate investigation you remember that Americans recognized a constitutional crisis. Nixon and his henchmen committed crimes and there was bipartisan agreement that he had disgraced the office and had to go. Trump has disgraced the office so many times at this point we have become inured to boorish behavior, paranoid delusions and cruel attacks on anyone who dares criticize him, whether it’s a 16-year-old girl or a Gold Star mother or a war hero. But has he committed a crime? To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on what your definition of crime is.
Pundits began confidently predicting the success of the Trump impeachment effort because Trump trying to get the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden in return for military aid was easily understandable to the average citizen, unlike the convoluted tale outlined in the Mueller Report. Yes, average citizens did understand it and said “so what?” Yes, Trump did wrong. Is it impeachable? No.
To Trump supporters Biden and his son Hunter are corrupt, the media whitewash of the unethical $50,000 a month job of the vice-president’s son notwithstanding. (How many times have you heard the sentence “no one is saying that Joe Biden did anything wrong.” Really?)
Last time, the Democrats ran Hillary Clinton, the most polarizing figure they could find. If they nominate Biden the Trump forces won’t let him get away with not answering questions about his irresponsible son’s checkered past.
Americans have been told a thousand times that the Republican Senate will negate the House impeachment vote, so nothing will happen. So why is the public being subjected to this carnival?
The evidence that the impeachment process is not a game changer can be seen in the candidates seeking to replace Trump. Impeachment is not high on the list of issues on the campaign trail. Candidates are smart enough to focus on issues voters care about.
If Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership were not being hounded by the media and the left wing, they might do something sensible. Like censure Trump for his sins. Do not cheapen the impeachment process and turn the most drastic remedy provided in the constitution into a political hit job.
Wake up call: State House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison is now “woke.”
The Cocke County legislator who argued that the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the Capitol would be ignoring history now says the bust should be removed. He suggested to Nashville media that the Forrest bust could be replaced by Dolly Parton or some other woman deserving recognition. He said talking with black legislators changed his mind on the issue.
Faison has been a popular political figure around East Tennessee but his new position may not please some of the people in his district. He also voted for Gov. Bill Lee’s voucher bill. He won the job of caucus chair after the shakeup in which Speaker Glen Casada was ousted. He seems to be winning friends and influencing people in Nashville. It remains to be seen how it plays in Del Rio.
Faison is known for being an expert vote counter. His embrace of removing the bust may mean there is a consensus among Republicans to move it to a museum. Or that Lee would like to dispose of the issue and Faison is volunteering to help.
The Capitol Commission meets this week, but the Forrest bust is not on the agenda. The next meeting will be during the upcoming legislative session. Any effort to remove the bust has to begin with a majority vote on the Capitol Commission.
I don’t understand the Republicans resisting moving Forrest out of the Capitol. The Democrats installed the bust to honor the man who commanded the paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party during Reconstruction, otherwise known as the Ku Klux Klan.
Frank Cagle is a former managing editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel.