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 is actually 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. That they are not clear is important. I’m usually 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.
Liberals get upset by the idea of doing something without a reason for doing it. They hold even the Democrats to that standard. But wanting to impeach a president – a good or 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 the impeachment of federal officials is justified by whatever a majority of the House of Representatives says it’s justified by.
If a majority wants to fling itself over the edge of the valley of the shadow of death, it can. This is a representative democracy, after all. That it can, however, is why it usually doesn’t. Elected officials can go as far as they want to — until consequences come for them.
The House Republicans made a stink in advance of the criminal former president’s double impeachments. Among other things, they said the Democrats were out to get him. Some Republicans in the Senate said the same thing. Donald Trump was a victim of political persecution, they said. The impeachment trials weren’t fair. So they acquitted him.
Fairness had nothing to do with it. If the 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 says it’s justified by. They can do it for whatever reason.
The question is whether it’s good.
That’s usually where they get confused.
To the Republicans, any reason is a good one, because they can’t know if it’s a good reason 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.
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, however, isn’t so bad if it works for them.
The Republicans have been successful at scaring people 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. Remember: They are not saying that what goes around comes around if there are good reasons. They are saying that what goes around comes around if the Republicans can force it to come around for reasons they will fabricate after the fact.
If the House Republicans, under the auspices of Senator Ted Cruz, want to bring an indictment against 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 consequences come for them.
For the House Democrats, the consequences of having impeached Trump twice were holding the Senate, barely losing the House. They made their arguments. They convinced 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.