Democrats in Congress don’t seem to realize that the impeachment hearings are already over. As of today, the sides have been divvied up, the votes have been tallied and President Donald Trump will remain in office through the end of his term, at least.
I don’t mean to spoil the ending, but I would speculate that most Americans, in their hearts of hearts, know how this movie is going to end. It has been obvious since the opening credits.
The bottom line is that Trump did it — he’s guilty. He leveraged U.S. security dollars earmarked by Congress for Ukraine to squeeze its new government into opening a damaging investigation into political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Once word of the ploy leaked out in a Politico story, the money was released prophylactically.
The Bidens are guilty, too, of course. Hunter Biden had no business being appointed to the Burisma board, and he knew it. So, surely, did his dad. Hunter’s reported $50,000-a-month contract with the sullied Ukranian oil giant was a clear and untoward gesture of goodwill to the then-vice president, who took the lead on all things Ukraine during the Obama administration. What Hunter did wasn’t illegal — the most lucrative corruption in government typically isn’t — but it was wrong. Americans get that, too. This was a situation in which a father should have told his son, “Knock it off.” He did not.
We also know the greatest hits coming down the pike in the televised impeachment hearings, which resume Tuesday. They were already leaked by the Democrats following earlier closed-door hearings, so we’re being asked to watch a familiar plot unfold. Sure, there are some details to be had — did former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani break any laws?, for example — but the decision on the impeachment itself is predetermined. The Democrat-controlled House will impeach Trump just before Christmas, most likely, and the Republican-led Senate will acquit him after its trial, probably in late February. There will be few, if any, defections from either party. Then, with Congress and the nation furiously divided, we’ll roll into the 2020 elections hating one another even more.
The problem that many of us have, myself included, is that truth has nothing to do with what’s going on. Trump defenders will keep selling the preposterous notion that Ukraine — not Russia — was behind the interference in the 2016 presidential election, and Democrats, somewhat less egregiously, will keep pretending that there was nothing to see with Burisma and the Bidens. Both are lies.
What should happen in the trial is politically immaterial at this point. To Trump’s assured relief, the trial has become another proxy battle in the larger cultural war roiling the nation. A stalemate is all but ensured.
Something else should be becoming increasingly clear to most Americans, though: Washington cannot be counted on to cure our nation’s woes. It has proved itself fundamentally dishonest at this point, a morass of self-interests that no longer includes us. If we want to move forward as a country — as a people — we'll have to do it ourselves, at the local and state levels, the way our founders envisioned it.
It’s the one good thing that could come of all this.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.