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This Impeachment Will Do More to Reelect Biden Than Anything Biden Could Do Himself

Republicans plan to fritter away what advantages they could claim by letting their freak flag fly.

Representative Jim Jordan, joined by Representative Jason Smith and Representative James Comer speaks to members of the media following a vote to formally authorize an ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.
Al Drago/Getty Images
Representative Jim Jordan (center), joined by Representative Jason Smith (left) and Representative James Comer, speaks to members of the media following a vote to formally authorize an ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.

For people who accuse people like you and me of living in a bubble, these people … sure live in a bubble. Think about how this works.

Republican House members go back to their districts every weekend. This is where their employees who toil in the unglamorous obscurity of the district offices in towns like Kerrville, Texas, or Joplin, Missouri, or Twin Falls, Idaho, not the cosmopolitan nerve center of Washington, have a chance to flex their hometown muscle. They field the calls from the constituent groups who want to meet their congressperson when they’re in town. They’re deciding on the relative importance of attending that weekend’s picnic of the Kerr County Republican Party (of which Kerrville is the county seat) or stopping by the wedding of the daughter of the paper mill magnate who suspects their boss is kind of a squish and is considering running, with his ready-at-hand millions, against him.

They decide, in other words, what the representative will hear. And on these trips, the representative is only hearing whatever Fox News is braying about or whatever grievance Donald Trump is having a social media meltdown over. They’re usually  the same thing. And lately, that same thing has been: Impeach Joe Biden.

It surely gets a little more complicated for the Republican House members in the 17 districts where Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump (there are only five corresponding Democratic districts, where Trump beat Biden). But honestly, it can’t get that much more complicated. Because of gerrymandering and the way red and blue Americans are increasingly cut off from each other geographically, members and their staffs can now control, to an unprecedented extent, what kinds of constituents they come into contact with, and what opinions they hear.

And that is why the House voted Wednesday evening to open impeachment proceedings against Joe Biden. When they go back home, these members aren’t hearing about the political risk involved in this effort. They certainly don’t hear that the evidence for such a momentous step is scant and they should probably think twice before pursuing an action the Founders said should be reserved for only the gravest of circumstances. They hear only that Donald Trump wants them to go get the filthy bastard. 

Some of them—I’d say most of them, really, which only shows how deeply we’ve waltzed into this hall of mirrors—know that this is madness. A few will let slip the truth that they don’t have the goods on Biden—as Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley did on Wednesday. Yet to the Trump-worshipping, Fox-devouring local elites of Kerrville and Joplin and Twin Falls, it’s the only logical and moral choice.

That’s the bad news. The 118th Congress will impeach Joe Biden, a completely blameless Joe Biden; a Joe Biden whose only known “crime” has been to make the occasional bad judgment in defense of his deeply troubled son but who, in 50 years of public life, has never once been credibly accused of pocketing a dirty dollar. The historical record, polluted as it now is, will include this impeachment asterisk next to President Biden’s name.

But here’s the good news. The good news is that this will backfire like a badly tuned 1975 Pontiac Grand Am. No matter what the House does under its new management, the Senate will never convict and remove Biden from office. They need 67 votes to do that, and I’d be surprised if they have more than 40—it may be considerably fewer than that. 

Every Senate Democrat will vote against conviction; that will seal the deal right there. And it seems likely that a not-insignificant number of Senate Republicans will decide that their fates are not so tightly entwined with Trump’s that they can’t vote their actual conscience and get away with it.

At the end of the day, this will fail. Every Republican on Capitol Hill—even Mike Johnson (do I still need to remind people that this anodyne person with this anodyne name is the speaker of the House of Representatives?), Jim Jordan, and James Comer—know this. And yet, they will proceed. Why? For two reasons.

The first has to do with those district meetings. This madness about Biden having done something corrupt is all they hear. As far as these constituents are concerned, to oppose the impeachment of Biden is the moral equivalent of voting to grant Charles Manson parole.

But the second, and by far the main, reason has to do with Trump. He’s the one pushing this, and they just cower before their Orange Jesus. In addition, they know very well what a morally filthy reprobate Trump is. They know he’s a crook. They know he bilked contractors at his hotels. They know he lies as regularly as he breathes. They know he tried to steal the 2020 election. They know he took classified documents. They know that he’s committed sexual assault more often than they’ve had sex.

That they possess this knowledge is precisely why they have to dirty up Biden. They have to confuse the country’s swing voters into not being sure which candidate is the more corrupt. They have to get low-information voters to think, “Well, you know, they both seem pretty skuzzy to me.” But they are, at all times, telling on themselves.

How uplifting to democracy! And what an honorable vocation! These people are disgusting. And next November, they’ll learn that the American people see through them. I’m old enough to remember how badly the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton backfired against the Republicans. At least then, they could point to a semblance of wrongdoing—though it was something more distasteful than criminal. Today, they have nothing. And the American people, outside of Kerrville and Joplin and Twin Falls, know it.

Bring this impeachment on. It will fill the news, expose these cranks, reveal their profound cynicism—and do more to reelect Joe Biden than anything Biden himself could do.