President Donald Trump leaves office in less than a week. What we need in those days, and beyond, is not more drama.
We don’t need more drama from the president.
And we don’t need more drama from House Democrats and their leader.
That’s all a second impeachment accomplishes—more drama centering around Trump.
The House has the right to impeach and has exercised it. But now a trial must take place in the Senate. It can obviously not be organized and conducted, with due process of law, by Jan. 20. And no matter what evidence is presented, it seems highly unlikely that 17 Republicans—the number needed—would vote with the Democrats to convict. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has said, “The votes are not there.”
A trial, if done properly, would consume the Senate and effectively delay the start of the Biden administration, when what we really need, and need desperately, is to turn the page—to move on.
There are other options: the 25th Amendment, invocation of a clause in the 14th Amendment that references insurrection and, finally, censure. But none seems likely.
And holding a Senate trial against an ex-president does not make much sense.
President-elect Joe Biden needs to be able to organize his government and focus on fighting the coronavirus.
And Trump needs to leave the stage.
To achieve this end, we need adult supervision. Some grown-up in Washington—maybe our new president, maybe Mitch McConnell, maybe Vice President Mike Pence—needs to broker a deal. And here it is: The president resigns and leaves early and the Democrats drop impeachment.
Neither party would be giving up much at all.
And we could begin again, with a modicum of peace
Obsessive Trump haters would not be happy. They will never be satisfied. Impeachment alone would not be enough for the man many of them literally believe to be evil personified.
Trump lovers will never see the tragic flaws of their leader, or acknowledge the damage he has done, not least of all to himself, but most of all, to the country.
Trump haters will likely get their red meat, however. And Trump lovers will, too. Many legal pitfalls await Trump. He, meanwhile, will have the bully pulpit he has made.
So why not set aside the great divide and all the hollow gestures that go with it, for now, and focus on our real problems and needs?
Let’s turn to what really needs to be done at this moment—tangible and important things.
We need a functioning government. We need to restore civic peace and begin to rebuild civility and respect in the public square.
We need to restore respect for facts, for law, and for American political institutions.
And we need to face COVID-19, and its consequential and deepening economic recession, together, as Americans.
None of this is to diminish the gravity of the violent mob attack on our Capitol, our public servants and democracy itself. Nor should Trump’s personal responsibility be diminished or denied. He built the pyre and struck the match. But it is to recognize reality and our current needs.
Let us turn to the monumental tasks at hand and move on.