Jack DeVine

It’s generally a bad idea to use superlatives like “best” or “worst” in print because something even better or much worse will inevitably show up.

But for the 75-year-old life of me, I can’t think of a more offensive, more destructive and less justifiable political action than the U.S. House of Representatives’ wholly partisan initiation of an official impeachment inquiry targeting President Trump – all because of a telephone conversation.

For over two years the country was tied up in knots by Democratic assertions of a massive, unprecedented, international Trump-led conspiracy with Russia to steal the 2016 election. They demanded and won an independent counsel. They assured us that the damning evidence was in hand and that impeachment was sure to follow.

Now that the Russia collusion fantasy has fizzled, we’re supposed to believe that a few inappropriate (and very Trumpian) sentences in phone conversation with the newly elected president of the Ukraine are every bit as bad; that Trump’s inadvisable words imperil the future of our 243-year-old Republic. Speaker Pelosi explains that she is saddened to have to drag us through this but that she has no choice – we must defend the U.S. Constitution. The threat to our national security is so severe that it may warrant nullifying the 2016 presidential election.

How seriously should we take such pronouncements from folks who, for nearly three years, have rolled out an endless string of reasons (excuses, actually) for impeachment? They all blur together. Along with Russian collusion, there was the Comey firing, “treasonous” remarks in Warsaw, the unreleased tax-returns, the Stormy Daniels payoff, the Michael Cohen testimony, obstruction of justice related to a non-crime and others.

Does anyone remember that only two weeks ago that there was a firestorm of outrage and impeachment buzz at the discovery that U.S. military flight crews have on occasion lodged in a Trump-owned hotel at government expense (in full compliance with government rules, by the way), a supposedly clear violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Who knew?

To borrow a line from Shakespeare, it’s a tale “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The Democrat calculus for impeachment is entirely political. Can they cobble together enough congressional votes? Can their army of media operatives pump up enough public support to lend it credence? Will it be helpful or harmful to their prospects in the 2020 election?

That seems to be all that counts. There’s no visible consideration on their part of what’s fair or what’s best for the country nor is there evident concern about the obvious intent of the words “bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors” in the Constitution that Ms. Pelosi is so bent on defending.

Right now, print and broadcast media are consumed with analysis of every detail, parsing every sentence of the phone call transcript and the (very fishy) whistleblower complaint that triggered the furor, hoping to find the quid pro quo or some other proverbial smoking gun.

Ignore it all. Take just a tiny step back. We’re talking about a phone conversation, nothing more. No grand conspiracy, just words.

This so-called constitutional crisis is in effect just a snippet of the run-of-the-mill criticism of the president that we hear daily from his detractors. As a rule, there is some kernel of truth in these snipes, and just as predictably, they are overstated wildly.

President Trump’s routinely unpresidential demeanor and his undisciplined speech concern many Americans. Those are factors – alongside his achievements – for voters to take into consideration on Nov. 3 of next year; they are not, by any stretch, a basis for undoing the election of 2016.

I believe it is vitally important that we find a way to bridge the partisan divide that is paralyzing American politics. Somehow, we must start working together for the good of country instead of working at odds for the good of party. I’ve said so many times on these pages and I’m in the final stages of writing a book based entirely on that premise.

The Democrats’ descent into the hell of impeachment proceedings is a body blow to prospects for constructive collaboration on anything; it poisons the well and pushes the truly important issues to the back of the line, behind furious impeachment debate.

“I pledge that this Congress will be transparent, bipartisan and unifying”, said Ms. Pelosi on Jan. 3 of this year, upon resuming her role as House Speaker. That’s a great sentiment, Madam Speaker. Please honor your pledge.