Sunday, April 21, 2024

Opinion A rotten week for MAGA Republicans’ feeble stunts. (Jennifer Rubin, WaPo column)

Good news for those who love our Nation, who love and respect our democracy and who treasure the separation of church from snakes.  From The Washington Post; 

Opinion A rotten week for MAGA Republicans’ feeble stunts

April 21, 2024 at 7:45 a.m. EDT
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), right, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the committee's ranking Democrat, conduct a hearing on March 20. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post) 
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MAGA House Republicans would rather do anything but their jobs. They would rather indulge right-wing media consumers with baseless impeachments, motions to vacate the speaker’s chair (again!), fruitless hearings and parroting Russian propaganda. None of these activities serves the interests of the voters; none improves U.S. national security. For these minions of Donald Trump, chaos and paralysis appear to be the goal. Fortunately for the country, Democrats have figured out how to short-circuit the antics and humiliate Republicans.

My Post colleague Aaron Blake described the Republicans’ impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border as “troubled from the start — in ways that sharply undercut the claim that Democrats are derelict in shrugging off an impeachment trial.” Additionally, Blake wrote, many Republicans admitted that “Mayorkas’s actions weren’t impeachable” and that “the party wound up lacking complete unity in both chambers in historic ways.”

Problems started in the House. The Republicans’ star legal witness and an even smattering of House and Senate Republicans conceded that there was no constitutional basis for impeaching Mayorkas. Jonathan Turley, a frequent Trump legal defender, readily acknowledged, “I don’t think they have established any of those bases for impeachment. ... The fact is, impeachment is not for being a bad Cabinet member or even a bad person. It is a very narrow standard.” Republicans never remotely reached the constitutional standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In February, not long before announcing his retirement, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that “incompetence doesn’t rise to the level of high crimes or misdemeanors.” He added that “if we are to make underenforcement of the law, even egregious underenforcement, impeachable, almost every cabinet secretary would be subject to impeachment.” When the impeachment vote came, Gallagher’s irrefutable reasoning drew only two other Republican “no” votes.

In the Senate on Wednesday, few expected the impeachment to go anywhere. Several Republicans openly disparaged the effort. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) affirmed there was no constitutional basis for Mayorkas’s impeachment, yet voted against dismissing the unconstitutional measure for fear of creating a bad precedent(!). Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted “present” on one of the two groundless articles:

On a point of order that the Article I charges were unconstitutional because they do not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, I voted present. I did so because the allegations outlined in Article I — that Secretary Mayorkas, by executing the policies of the Biden administration, committed high crimes that rose to the level of impeachable offenses, needed real debate and deliberation. We were not afforded the opportunity to debate the constitutionalities of the charges in Article I, so I was not in good conscience able to vote in the affirmative or against.

She most certainly could have determined the charge did not meet the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but a solid display of independence on an impeachment vote was, perhaps, too much to ask.

In any event, Democrats — including moderates such as Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — were in no mood to indulge Republicans. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) understood that conducting a full-blown trial would give undeserved credence to the House’s stunt. “The charges brought against Secretary Mayorkas fail to meet the high standard of high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said. “To validate this gross abuse by the House would be a grave mistake and could set a dangerous precedent for the future.”

In dismissing the articles of impeachment with a party-line vote, Senate Democrats ignored crocodile tears from the likes of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who voted against the most meritorious impeachment in history following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — that dismissing an impeachment before trial would create a bad precedent (unlike letting an insurrectionist off the hook?). Schumer deserves credit for nipping in the bud the GOP-controlled House’s abuse of power.

When Republicans blatantly liedisregard their oaths and — to borrow a phrase — weaponize government, Democrats have an obligation to call them out. That entails refusing to take Republican antics seriously. When hearings and investigations obviously lack good faith, the Democrats can uphold the stature of Congress by simply walking away and refusing to play these games.

For good measure last week, the incomparable Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, took a verbal sledgehammer to Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), derided even by his own side for utterly failing to come up with anything remotely incriminating in his strictly partisan impeachment inquiry into President Biden:

The inquiry has been repeatedly and thoroughly discredited. Even now, Comer cannot figure out what “crime” he is investigating. And further still, Comer cannot admit failure.

Raskin’s tongue-lashing does more than provide emotional satisfaction to Democrats fed up with reckless Republican antics (although no one should dismiss the value of an occasional dollop of Schadenfreude). In a media environment in which Comer’s farce is, in some corners, treated as though it were a legitimate oversight hearing, Democrats must go out of their way to draw bright lines.

Democratic partisans often find fault with their politicians for being “too nice” or “lacking a killer instinct.” Whatever the merits of their past complaints (e.g., leaving the filibuster in place), they should acknowledge that Democratic lawmakers — especially those in the minority of a chaotic, feckless House — have learned a thing or two over the past couple of years.

Democrats have learned to give Republicans the respect they deserve — which, often, is none.

Opinion by 
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post. She is the author of “Resistance: How Women Saved Democracy from Donald Trump” and is host of the podcast Jen Rubin's "Green Room." Twitter

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