Right-wing Republicans, spurred by Donald Trump, are itching to start impeachment proceedings. They may want to be careful what they wish for.
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House Republicans are itching to initiate impeachment proceedings against Joe Biden for… something. At this point, they are more clear about what they want to do than how or why to do it.
And that makes a kind of twisted sense. They’ve been appearing on right-wing news outlets nonstop for months to accuse the president of having committed just about every crime short of … well, staging a coup to overturn an election he lost, which, according to the GOP, is not even illegal.
As a result of this constant beating of the drums for impeaching Biden, the hard-core MAGA base is expecting action. After all, you can’t have “the most corrupt president in history” in office without doing something about it. That puts Republicans in a bit of a bind since they don’t actually have evidence to back up any of their accusations. Because, sadly for them, it’s neither a high crime nor a misdemeanor to have a grifter for a son.
However, now the Republican leadership has to pull the trigger — not only because the base expects it but also because it’s the will of a higher power:
“Either IMPEACH the BUM, or fade into OBLIVION,” Donald Trump, who knows more about being impeached than any other president in history, wrote in his usual understated manner this week.
Therefore, clearly, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will at some point relent and start an impeachment inquiry — if only to get his most conservative members to oppose an unpopular government shutdown. Because you can’t really continue all those Hunter Biden investigations while that is going on.
So, we know what the GOP is going to do, but what about Biden? How should the president handle this?
Here’s an unconventional idea: Biden should go full “Dark Brandon” and get Republicans to rush into an impeachment as quickly as possible.
That might sound counterintuitive, but hear us out because it’ll all make sense in a minute.
First, Republicans are still in disarray on the issue, so there’s an opportunity to capitalize on that or force their hand.
Currently, McCarthy doesn’t have enough votes to impeach Biden (and he may never have them) because plenty of moderate Republicans know that this is nonsense. He likely can’t even muster the votes to have the entire House sign off on beginning impeachment proceedings, a step McCarthy has said would be a requirement to move ahead.
It is possible that he can convince enough of the GOP hold-outs to change their vote by saying that such a step is necessary to force the Biden administration to make available more documents to the House investigators.
That would at least get the ball rolling. But is that really what Republicans want right now?
As things stand, the inquiry into “the Bidens” is being conducted solely on the GOP’s terms, and it’s playing out almost entirely on friendly territory for them, i.e., in right-wing media. Most other news outlets have vetted the accusations that have been levied against the president so far and found them to be lacking (which is a kind way of saying they are BS).
But Fox News hosts don’t care about that. They’ll let these Republicans go on the air and say whatever they want all day long. In fact, they’ll join in and tell their viewers that “the Bidens” got “bribes” totaling millions of dollars. In this case, “the Bidens” means 90 percent Hunter, 9 percent James, 1 percent Hallie, and 0 percent Joe. And “bribes” means “not bribes.” Well, unless you define a “bribe” as a financial transaction, as in “I went to the store today and bribed the cashier with $6 to give me a gallon of milk,” or “I bribed my lawyer into doing legal work for me.” In other words, they have yet to show that any of the payments Hunter Biden received were illegal or tied to any illegal activity.
Still, because the GOP has been able to control the narrative on account of being the only ones who are talking about this, and because enough of their nonsense trickles through to non-MAGA voters, there are now plenty of people who are buying into that made-up corruption narrative.
However, this presumption of corruption would change during an impeachment process, when more Americans would actually start paying attention and have the opportunity to hear from both sides.
And, usually, whenever facts start getting presented, that’s not good news for Republicans. Because then, they’d have to lay out their “evidence,” which is a bunch of documents that make Hunter Biden look bad and a couple of whistleblowers who think the investigation into the president’s screwed-up son was slow-walked.
It’ll be just the opposite when the Trump trials start next year. Then, Americans will hear compelling evidence implicating the former president in a variety of crimes, and all of that “witch hunt,” “election interference,” and “two tiers of justice” talk will start sounding really stupid to anybody who is paying attention.
In addition, and even more so if McCarthy skips a floor vote, Republicans can kiss that “the- Democrats-are-weaponizing-government” talking point goodbye — because it will be so apparent that this is precisely what they themselves would be doing by going after the president for unspecified and unproven offenses.
But, let’s say that the Republicans in the House manage to impeach Biden for something… even without any solid evidence of an actual crime.
Then the case goes to the Senate for trial, where Biden will be acquitted because it takes a two-thirds majority to convict and Democrats are in control of the chamber. And, chances are that there will be quite a few sane Republicans left there who won’t vote to convict the president based on some nonsense that Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and James Comer (R-KY) dreamt up in the green room at Fox News while they were waiting to go on Jesse Watters’s new show.
That, once again, wouldn’t be a good look for the GOP.
It also seems likely that vulnerable Republicans who support this circus will pay a price at the ballot box in 2024.
None of this bodes well for the GOP, which is why Biden should goad them into getting things started right away. Another advantage of this approach is that House Republicans are probably going to impeach him for something, anyway, so he might as well get it over with.
And, once there’s an acquittal, they’ll have to let this go, or they’ll reinforce the notion that it is the GOP which is petulantly weaponizing its power.
For all of these reasons, it’s clearly in Biden’s interest to get things started now.
That is assuming that he didn’t actually do anything illegal (which seems like a decent bet seeing how much time and money Republicans have spent on their investigation and how little actual evidence they have turned up).
Still, maybe they can come up with actual evidence of serious wrongdoing on the part of the president after all. Even then, it would also be better for the country to get started right now because then Biden should not be the Democratic nominee and the party would still have plenty of time to run a proper primary.
If that were the case, Joe Biden could enjoy a well-deserved retirement and show the country what it looks like when a president bows out without trying to cling to power at all costs… because we know how that ends.
The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Joe Biden caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), ode to Dark Brandon (Belbury / Wikimedia), and Capitol (USCapitol / Flickr).