National Review Throws a Lovely Air Ball on Impeachment

Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson, left, and House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving pass through Statuary Hall at the Capitol to deliver the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Following are impeachment managers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and other managers Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The arc of the shot was beautiful, what looked like the perfect three-pointer.

The editors at National Review assert in “Impeachment Doesn’t Require a Crime” that Republican Senators have reached an “unspoken consensus”: President Trump has made some questionable moves, but nothing truly impeachable; and voters should decide his fate in the fall.


Perhaps Senate Republicans really do agree on these points. But since the “consensus” is “unspoken,” it remains unclear how National Review verified it. One suspects the editors have projected their own thoughts into the honorable senators. But who knows?

Sadly, Nation Review’s shot at the impeachment was one foot left of the hoop. All that was heard was the wind and the ball hitting the floor with a rubbery *thud.* They write:

It’s a reasonable position [that the voters should decide the president’s fate], and it’s the case that Republicans ought to make in public. They are inhibited from doing so by the president’s obstinacy. Instead of sticking to the most defensible case for a Senate acquittal of Trump, Republicans from the president on down are making arguments that range from the implausible to the embarrassing.

Hence the claim now being advanced half-heartedly by Republicans that presidents cannot be impeached for any abuse of power unless that abuse took the form of a criminal violation of a statute.

First of all, embarrassing to WHOM? To National Review and their cocktails-at-the-club conservatism? Are they ashamed these days to look Adam Schiff in his gigantic eyeballs when they pass him in the Harvard alumni lounge?

This smells like some Mitt Romney bull manure: “Well, we might lose the impeachment. But at least our argument won’t come across as implausible and embarrassing in the beltway …”

Not to pick on National Review but to point out a festering misapprehension among neo-cons: LOSING … IS … EMBARRASSING. Losing is PARTICULARLY embarrassing when the opposition has flung the rulebook into the weeds; kicked you in the huevos; and now threatens–like the ancient Aztecs–to cut out the losers’ hearts and stew their quivering flesh for supper.


There will be no “Well chaps, we’ll get them next time!” Republicans may have the White House and the Senate at the moment; but as Mark Baurlein points out, conservatism in our public institutions is collapsing and on its last legs. Baurlein writes:

In recent times, conservatives have tended to focus on ideas. If, after President Trump leaves office, they don’t start thinking more about personnel, if they don’t consider the population of institutions as much as they do the structure of institutions, if they choose a leader who thinks technocratically instead of ad hominem-ly, we will indeed end up with the permanent Democratic majority liberal intellectuals have predicted for the last 20 years.

If the president is forced from office, if we shortly receive eight years of Comrade Bernie or Chief Warren, don’t count on a single conservative brick remaining stacked atop another. Democrats are playing for keeps these days–or hadn’t National Review noticed?
How to NOT end up losers served for dinner?
In a nutshell: don’t present a defense a few constitutional scholars can understand but the American people cannot. The Senate is not the jury in this case. The American people are.
I happen to agree with the august editors, that the Constitution as written allows Congress to impeach and convict a president for anything they damn well please. But try explaining to a mechanic in Des Moines why a president should be turfed out of office for blowing his nose. Try explaining why the Legislative may cancel an election on pretexts that resemble no crime he recognizes.
Does Nation Review really believe diagramming a constitutional maze for the American people will win the day?
The average Republican and undecided voter hasn’t the background nor the leisure to grasp the counterintuitive nuances of impeachment–a quasi-legal action that stands outside their everyday experience of justice and fairness.
Average voters do not sit around in National Review conferences theorizing about abuse of power and quoting the debates of the Founders. They do not have hours to pour over legalistic articles on Ukrainian arms aid and phone calls. Average Americans are WORKING. They are raising FAMILIES. They are trying to keep their lives and country functioning while Congress breaks orbit and careens into deep space.
The president’s defense team is communicating to Americans a simple, clear formula they can apprehend: “The president has broken no laws as you understand them. He’s been doing what he must to win reelection and perform his job in the lawless and murky world of international politics. Let’s clear him, shut the Crats up, and get on with business.”
The editors at Nation Review seem to hold the position: “It’s our tweedy version of intellectual conservatism, or none at all.” They really should turn their powers of analysis to what that latter option really portends for them and for the country.
The Democrats are coming first for the president, populists, and conservative publications like RedState that don’t tiptoe around; but they won’t stop there. Under a wholly Democrat government, National Review will almost certainly vanish, either through poverty or the slow asphyxiation of the left’s hot new project of conservative censorship.
The lawsuit by a leftist climate change professor against National Review–which likely has a rich sponsor in the background bankrolling the 8-year effort–probably signals things to come. The editors will wind up talking to one another, but nobody else. Kevin Williamson will have nowhere to invent new English words.
Lacking any organ to publish your eminently plausible arguments?
Now THAT’S embarrassing.


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