Time in this age of Trumpism is a lot like "dog years." It passes seven times (at least) more quickly than what I've been used to in every other presidential administration.
Only last Sunday -- which now seems like two months ago, rather than only two days -- I was opining to a friend at our usual get-together at West Salem's Urban Grange coffee house that I hoped Democrats would take the advice of Nancy Pelosi and make the 2020 election an impeachment of sorts.
I said the Dems should tell voters, "Here's the horrible stuff that Trump has done. We're going to leave it to you to carry out what amounts to impeachment, by voting him out of office in November 2020."
That made sense to me then. Now, I'm all in on impeachment.
As is Pelosi, seemingly, since today she announced that the House is beginning an impeachment inquiry into what Trump has wrought during his scandal-plagued presidency.
Notably, his attempt to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate non-existent wrongdoing by Joe Biden's son, Hunter, during his stint on a board of directors of a Ukraine corporation. Also, the non-existent wrongdoing by Joe Biden when he urged that a prosecutor be removed who was failing to look into genuine cases of corruption in Ukraine.
The Washington Post has a great story about how Rudy Giuiani worked mightily at this attempt to smear Joe Biden and hurt his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
And the New York Times has a cogent analysis of why Trump's self-admitted attempt to get a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election has pushed Pelosi and other Democrats over the impeachment cliff. Or at least, the impeachment inquiry cliff.
For months, dozens of House Democrats anxiously avoided even the mention of impeaching President Trump — right up until the moment that they demanded it.
The sudden embrace of an impeachment inquiry by previously reluctant House Democrats — most notably Speaker Nancy Pelosi — is attributable to one fundamental fact: They believe the new accusations against Mr. Trump are simple and serious enough to be grasped by a public overwhelmed by the constant din of complex charges and countercharges that has become the norm in today’s Washington.
In contrast to the murkiness of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump, Democrats see the current allegations as damningly clear-cut.
His refusal so far to provide Congress with an intelligence official’s whistle-blower complaint as required by law, coupled with the possibility that Mr. Trump dangled American military aid as a bargaining chip to win investigation of a political rival by a foreign government, strikes them as a stark case of presidential wrongdoing.
They consider it egregious enough that they expect many Americans who had been cool to the idea of moving to oust the president to recognize the imperative for the House to act.
The Mueller report didn't have enough impeachment octane in it. Sure, Trump obstructed justice. But he does that all the time, and it would have been too easy for Trump and his cronies to say "there was no underlying crime to obstruct." Which is true, though legally obstruction doesn't require a crime.
Now, though, Trump appears guilty of having blatantly done what the Mueller report danced around: an attempt to collude with a foreign power to influence an election. And it is clear that Trump himself was behind this attempt, not people in the Trump orbit.
This indeed is a much stronger basis for impeachment, which is as much a political exercise as a legal one. It's telling that few, if any, Republicans are defending what Trump said to the president of Ukraine.
Sure, they aren't criticizing Trump to the degree that they should. But the fact that the Senate voted unanimously to urge the release of the whistle-blower complaint to Congress shows that Ukraine is a more compelling Trump scandal than what Mueller investigated.
I deeply respect Nancy Pelosi's political acumen. Her willingness to get on board the impeachment train shows that she feels this has a greater probability of leading to Democratic victories in 2020 than defeats.
Of course, Pelosi could be wrong. If there's anything predictable in this Age of Trump, it is that nothing is predictable. Impeachment proceedings are full of high drama by their very nature. With Donald Trump involved, the drama will be on steroids.
I've read several scary books about the Trump presidency. The best, which also could be termed the worst, is How Democracies Die. I say "worst," because the authors presented persuasive facts about how the United States is heading in the direction that leads to autocracy.
To me, that's the most compelling argument for the House to impeach Trump. The Senate won't go along, almost certainly. But the point isn't to remove Trump from office. Hopefully that will happen courtesy of the voters.
Rather, a strong message needs to be sent that the American people aren't going to sit idly by and watch while Trump destroys both written and unwritten norms of presidential behavior. We the people aren't going to tolerate brazen attempts to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. Nor are we going to tolerate stonewalling of legitimate oversight by Congress into Trump administration wrongdoing.
My prediction, or at least my hope, is that impeachment will turn out to be a political plus for Democrats.
But even if it isn't, we have to contemplate which of these scenarios is more disturbing: (1) Trump wins re-election with few checks upon his worst instincts, or (2) Trump wins re-election after a spotlight has been cast on his sordid efforts to undermine our democracy.
Of course, best of all will be if Trump loses his re-election bid. I just believe we need to think of what would be the very worst political scenario, then work to mitigate its worseness.