May 8, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Republicans want to impeach Biden? Go ahead
Mess around and find out.
Please forgive me for raising the name of a certain senator from Texas who believes himself presidential material but who’s an idiot’s idea of a smart person. He was on Sean Hannity’s show Wednesday. Around and around they went till they landed on the topic of impeaching Joe Biden.
There are reasonsreasons why Ted Cruz was asked about impeachment. What they are is not clear to me. That they are not clear is important. I’m pretty good at paying attention. If something is not clear to me, it’s probably a fringe thing. If it’s a fringe thing, it’s probably something the Republicans are sifting through. If they’re sifting through it, it suggests they’re searching for reasonsreasons for doing what they want to do.
Liberals usually get upset by the idea of doing something without good reasons for doing it. They hold even the Democrats to that standard. But wanting to impeach a president – a good one or a bad one – isn’t good or bad in and of itself. I’m in line with former House Minority Leader Gerald Ford, who once said that a congressional indictment of a federal official is justified by whatever a majority of the House of Representatives says justifies by.
If a majority wants to fling itself over the edge of the valley of the shadow of death, well, it can. This is a representative democracy, after all. That it can, however, is why a majority usually doesn’t. Democratically elected officials can go as far as they want to go until they run up against consequences.
The House Republicans made a stink in advance of the criminal former president’s double indictments by the House. Among other things, they said congressional Democrats were out to get him. Some Republicans in the Senate said they believed the same. Donald Trump was a victim of political prosecution. The impeachment trials weren’t fair. So they acquitted him.
Fairness had nothing to do with it. If congressional Democrats were out to get him, out of spite or contempt or extreme pettiness, they were entitled to. As Ford said, an impeachment is justified by whatever a majority of the House of Representatives says justifies it. They can do it for whatever reason they think is a good reason. The question is whether it’s good.
This is usually where the Republicans get confused. To them, any reason is a good reason, because they can’t know until they’ve tried it. They are extremely practical as well as extremely amoral. Only after having gone off half-cocked do they know they’ve gone off half-cocked, but that might not matter to them if going off half-cocked was useful to them in some way.
In other words, they’d impeach Joe Biden in a heartbeat if they had a “good reason” to. But they can’t know if it’s a good reason until after the fact. By the time they figure out the goodness or badness of doing it, they’ll have already flung themselves over the edge of the valley of the shadow of death. This is why they constantly look like they’re trying to kill themselves. Suicide-bomber politics isn’t so bad, in their view, if it works for them.
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The Republicans have been successful at scaring liberals and Democrats away from holding accountable corrupt Republicans – in the recent past, Donald Trump; in the immediate present Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – by threatening them with what goes around comes around.
But this threat rests on the Republicans’ inability to assess whether anything is good or bad before the fact. They don’t say what goes around comes around if there are good reasons. They say it comes around if the Republicans can force it to for reasons they will fabricate after the fact.
This is why “slippery slopes” are nonsense. They’re based on a practical but amoral worldview that refuses to assess the goodness or badness of anything before the fact while presuming everything is as good or bad as everything else. This happens to be the worldview of the owners of the country’s most lucrative media properties. They want to seem like the detached voice of God. So we’re always hearing about “slippery slopes.”
If the House Republicans, under the auspices of Senator Ted Cruz, want to bring an indictment against President Joe Biden, they are entitled to. This is a representative democracy, after all. Democratically elected officials can go as far as they want to go until they run up against consequences.
For the House Democrats, the consequences of having impeached Trump twice were holding the Senate, just barely losing the House. They made their arguments. They convinced enough people their reasons were good.
The Republicans bear the same burden.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.
I feel it’s also worth noting how the “what goes around comes around” argument is a really annoying way for Republicans to constantly claim a lack of agency – they never do anything of their *own* volition, it’s always *in response* to something else. And because they lack agency, they can’t be held responsible for their actions.
Which is an argument that any reasonable person can see is nonsense. They’ll do whatever they want to do, regardless of what Democrats do; they just toss that phrase out there as a pre-justification for doing what they were *totally* going to do anyway.
Case in point: the Barrett confirmation. In 2016, Republicans twisted themselves into knots to justify *not* letting Obama fill a vacant SCOTUS seat months before an election. And they swore up and down that, should the same thing happen in 2020, they’d do the same if it were Trump filling the seat. (Also, ignore the fact that some Republicans were discussing keeping that seat vacant indefinitely if Clinton won. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along, move along.)
Lo and behold, a SCOTUS vacancy opens up in 2020, and the election has *already begun!* A *perfect* chance for Republicans to put their money where their mouths are. And what to they do? Cram a candidate through in record time.
Just as anyone paying attention knew they would.
And the justification? “Well, look at what Dems did to Kavanaugh! That changes everything!” As if holding a candidate for one of the highest positions in the land to the highest moral standards is somehow a bad thing.
And all of this is looking just that much worse, given how it’s looking like *every* conservative Justice is corrupt in some way, shape, or form.
Well said, Sean. Thank you. JS