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Assault on America, Day 400: What to expect post-impeachment. A bestseller won’t reveal

McConnell Acquited
“What to expect when you’re impeached -- but not convicted.” (Yes, it’s a statement, not a question.)

Couples who’ve just received good news that a baby is on the way typically run straight to the bookstore to grab a copy of the now famous bestselling book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” which features an artist’s rendition of a non-worried looking pregnant woman on the cover and boasts of being the complete a to z authority on those impactful nine-plus months. As a soon-to-be-parent, there’s a certain fear of the unknown, never quite realizing how terrifying and exhilarating pregnancy -- and what comes after birth -- really is until you’ve experienced it for yourself. Of course, friendly advice arrives from every corner, but somehow having that aptly named book is most comforting of all… even if it doesn’t cover every topic quite as deeply as you’d like it to.

(Some enterprising filmmakers made a movie out of the subject, too though it only got mixed reviews. Judging by the flighty ultra-liberal cast (Cameron Diaz? Sheesh. She’s as dumb as a two-by-four!), you can see why.)

At the same time, instinct will take over and guide you in the journey, just as it’s done since the beginning of time. Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual… except for maybe The Bible. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just read a set of directions and everything was cool?

Needless to say, the political world doesn’t feature a treatise on what comes after a president is impeached in a partisan witch hunt by the House and then acquitted mostly along factional lines in the opposite party controlled senate. America’s three year nightmare technically ended yesterday when senators finally got around to voting “acquit” on Nancy Pelosi’s and Adam Schiff’s two absurd articles of impeachment. The end result was entirely predictable, but then again, it was never in doubt from the opening news conference.

Pelosi’s bragged that Trump was forever impeached, a stain he’ll carry with him through historical eternity. Somehow, this interpretation doesn’t seem like the one posterity will adopt. Democrats made fools of themselves in the doing. If anything, they’re the ones who will suffer from overstepping into the void of impossibility.

There were a plethora of articles all throughout the process explaining how impeachment works from a procedural standpoint. And there were an equal number of commentaries concerning the various aspects of the committee hearings and the trial itself once underway. If there’s a person in America who sat through the entire proceeding from start to finish -- other than the senators, chief justice, house managers and defense attorneys… and the poor unfortunate staffers who do this kind of thing for a living -- I’d like to meet him or her. This pour soul must have had the patience of Job and the stamina of a triathlete to endure that kind of pain. Talk about an authentic masochist.

But what now? President Trump’s seemed to take the whole thing in stride and press through the post-acquittal media storm, just as he’s done from day one of his political career. There’s Bill Clinton’s example, though he was tried and cleared about halfway through his second term and didn’t need to worry about how it would affect his political viability. One surmises Big Bubba Bill and wife Crooked Hill just returned to doing what they always did prior to the big national brouhaha, which is tell a bucketload of lies, do as much as they could to lay the groundwork for their post-presidency pursuit of wealth and influence, and generally laugh and point at Republicans who bickered with each other and practically castrated themselves in the months after the matter died.

It's also hard to say if impeachment made much of a difference in the ensuing election, since Republican George W. Bush defeated Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, in the 2000 presidential contest. As is now the stuff of legend, Gore prevailed in the popular vote but Bush won the White House by narrowly edging out the Democrat nominee in the infamous “dangling chad” Florida recount. Democrats pulled out all the feasible legal (and illegal?) stops to try and gain the necessary few hundred additional Sunshine State votes -- but it didn’t work… that time.

The partisan war that began at Bubba Bill’s impeachment reached a fever pitch in the weeks after the 2000 vote and largely remained raging strong until the heinous terrorist attacks in September of Bush’s first year. A remarkable -- and short-lived -- sense of unity followed the airborne assaults in New York, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Where did the pride go? Remember the endless tributes and the tear-inspiring 2001 World Series? Did we all just forget?

Meanwhile, the 2000 U.S. senate elections saw Democrats pick up four seats to lodge a 50-50 tie. Republicans briefly held control (Vice President Dick Cheney would break partisan ties) of the chamber until “Jumpin’ Jim” Jeffords (of Vermont, no less) decided he’d rather powwow with the Democrats and switched his affiliation to “independent”.

On the House side, Republicans kept the majority they’d won in the landslide 1994 midterm elections. Democrats picked up one seat in 2000, so it was a virtual wash. So, impeachment obviously didn’t play much of a factor in the nationwide congressional district races.

The moral of the story? Voters have short memories and even shorter attention spans. The subject of Clinton’s impeachment and subsequent acquittal wasn’t part of the lead-up to the 2000 election. Nobody talked about it. Bill and Hill had a grand ‘ol time at the Democrat national convention that year as they passed the proverbial Democrat torch to Gore, who then callously dropped it down a ravine by being one of the most unlikable candidates ever (second only to Hillary, 2016?). Wooden Al was no Clinton, complete with big bulbous clown nose, an interminable smile and that oh-so-mockable Arkansas twang. Gore was a bore. It even rhymes.

Therefore, Clinton’s example doesn’t exactly provide a roadmap for what’s ahead for us this year.

So what now? What can we expect? The voters themselves don’t appear to care -- at all -- about impeachment. Paul Steinhauser reported at Fox News last week (before Monday’s caucuses and the impeachment vote) that Iowans were still solidly in Trump’s corner, “Brandon Point of Humboldt, Iowa, argued that impeachment ‘is going to backfire on the Democrats real good.’ Aaron Creger of Des Moines said that impeachment ‘helps [Trump] because everyone realizes it’s just the left’s agenda to try to bring up something to distract… everybody’s seeing it’s just a big scam.’ Pamela Klein of Norwalk, Iowa, predicted it would be Trump in ‘2020 for sure. No doubt.’  She emphasized that impeachment ‘helps him.’”

Trump himself hosted a major in-state rally last Thursday night (at Drake University, where the previous Democrat debate was held). Though technically his fate was being debated and about to be decided in the senate as he spoke, the president was his usual jovial self. If Trump was apprehensive, he didn’t show it. And the people who packed the arena -- and watched outside in below freezing weather -- weren’t about to let impeachment spoil their mood.

Byron York reported at The Washington Examiner, “Trump's appearance was for a higher purpose: To mess with his Democratic opponents. Just zoom in on Air Force One, stage a rally bigger than anything they could muster in their wildest dream and zoom back to Washington, having shown again that he is big and they are small…

“Trump's own treatment of impeachment fits into that sense. ‘While we're proudly creating jobs and killing terrorists, congressional Democrats are consumed with partisan rage and obsessed with a deranged witch hunt hoax,’ he told the crowd, to boos and hisses. ‘We're having probably the best years that we've ever had in the history of our country — and I just got impeached!’

“’Can you believe these people? I got impeached,’ Trump continued. ‘They impeached the president. No, it's not gonna work. Watch. Just watch.’”

Though impeachment won’t live long in the hearts of the generally disengaged and politically apathetic, it’s left an indelible mark on Trump’s supporters. The president’s voters see the Democrats’ action for what it was, a relentless and biased mission to overturn an election result they didn’t like and couldn’t accept.

If the old saying goes, “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned,” the same will be true of the political “marriage” that exists between Trump and his backers. Polls show nearly all (except for the impotent #NeverTrumpers and a token smattering of establishment losers) Republicans support Trump now, and the political near-death experience foisted on him by Democrats has only intensified the connection.

The outpouring of love and affection for Trump the president is considerable everywhere he travels, and it exists in many of the people I’ve talked with on a personal level as well. I don’t know a single person who voted for Trump in 2016 and has since abandoned him. If anything, the reverse is happening, even if the favorability polls don’t always reflect it.

Democrats will likely see a similar surge in emotion from their diehard voters post-impeachment, but they’ll also need to work extra hard to counteract the anger and desire for revenge against their candidates who supported the ultimately losing effort. If Iowa voters saw impeachment as a “waste of time and resources,” how can Democrats hope to defend the undertaking? Nancy Pelosi succumbed to the demands from overly ideologically driven members in safe districts. She held off on the impeachment question for a long time, and now she’s stuck.

Seeing her tearing up her copy of Trump’s inspiring and relentlessly optimistic State-of-the-Union speech after he concluded isn’t going to endear her to many folks. Stupid move, Nancy.

What to expect? Democrat politicians will advance every conceivable rationale to explain why impeachment failed. They’ll say the truth was “covered up” even when the call transcript was released. And they’ll gripe about not getting John Bolton on the witness stand, though again, they had the opportunity to bring him in during the House “investigation.” And they’ll moan about the unfairness of Trump’s defense team making it all about the Bidens.

But where does it leave Democrats? Nowhere. And with a presidential race that’s quickly being taken over by the most radical elements of their party. The establishment coalition that Obama so carefully constructed is now in tatters. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is a distant memory. And the morning headlines -- and evening news programs -- are all glorifying their worst nightmare(s), Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Patrick J. Buchanan wrote at The American Conservative, “If … Bernie’s last chance at the nomination is aborted by an establishment piling on, party super PACs running attack ads against him, and major media taking time out from trashing Trump to break Sanders, the Democratic Party will have the devil’s time of it bringing Bernie’s backers home in the fall.

“Bernie’s believers might just conclude that the real obstacle to their dream of remaking America is neither the radical right nor Donald Trump, but the elites within their own party.”

If Donald Trump wins a second term, a lot of people will look at the preordained-to-miscarry  Democrat impeachment gamble as the reason why. And with good reason.

Though no one truly knows what to expect now that Trump’s impeachment has been relegated to the trash heap of history, one scenario seems likely: Trump’s base has been activated and energized months earlier than in a normal election year and Democrats are in despair from failure. Who will win in the end? You be the judge.

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