Friday

November 15th, 2019

Insight

Is Dems' decision on Trump impeachment real, or just more natural gas?

John Kass

By John Kass

Published Sept. 26, 2019

When Nancy Pelosi came out late Tuesday afternoon to announce the House had begun a "formal impeachment inquiry" of President Donald Trump over that Ukraine business, three thoughts came to mind.

The first is that it's about time the Democrats decided about fishing or cutting bait.

Or did they?

They've been teasing us and hinting and salivating over impeaching Trump since the moment he was elected. The constant whining and hysterics -- magnified by their allies in the Democratic Media Complex -- have been exhausting.

Now, Pelosi and her Democrats have decided to try to catch that tuna, but they'll still be tossing chum in the water, since they don't have control of the Senate, and the Senate is the jury in a full presidential impeachment.

But they'll have more time to make speeches, some legitimate, others quite gaseous, dragging this out all the way to 2020.

The hook is the story that Trump abused presidential power by asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings with Ukraine. There is plenty of gas in the Trump/Ukraine story, but not enough facts yet, which hasn't stopped demands for Trump's impeachment.

But what we do know doesn't look good for Trump.

Trump withheld some $400 million in military aid that was approved by Congress and, in his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, asked him to go after the Bidens for their conflicts in the country.

As vice president, Biden dangled a billion dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine but demanded that leaders first fire a federal prosecutor investigating corruption. Biden's son Hunter, who knew nothing about gas, was making $50,000 a month with a Ukrainian natural gas company in a Chicago Way deal, Ukrainian style.

What Biden did was indeed sleazy, especially publicly bragging about how he got the prosecutor fired.

But, however you cut this, if President Trump demanded a Biden investigation from a foreign power in exchange for American aid, he went over the line that even narcissists should not cross.

That's an abuse of power. No president should be using U.S. foreign policy to benefit his or her political future. And now the Democrats, who control the House, will decide how far to take it.

The second thought after Pelosi's announcement was of my grandfather, Papou Pete. He didn't like politicians no matter the party. Papou saw politicians who made speeches about virtue in public, then stuck their hand out in private, wanting that hand filled and then kissed.

He had that classic saying about the politicians and the donkeys and gas.

And the third thought?

Biden isn't going to like this much. Some of the most tribal left insist what Biden did as vice president in Ukraine isn't a story because The Washington Post told them so. But it is most definitely a story. It rips the scab off Joe.

For all the breathlessness over Pelosi's actions, I hope you know that what politicians say -- even when wearing makeup on TV and surrounded by American flags -- isn't the whole story. What they don't say is important too.

And what Pelosi didn't say was that she'd have the full House vote on the matter.

She doesn't want her Democratic members having to stand and declare whether they want to proceed or not -- especially those Democrats who won in 2018 in pro-Trump Republican districts.

They're the reason she's speaker. So, she said her Democratic committee chairmen would investigate. But they've been investigating since Democrats took control of the House last year.

So, what's really changed, if anything? It looks like Pelosi was tired of trying to withstand the anger of leftist Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who's been tweaking Pelosi for not going after Trump earlier. Now Pelosi gets AOC off her back, at least for a time, and protects her Democrats who won election from Republican districts, for a time.

But eventually, they might all have to declare, which isn't easy. Standing on principle with their fingers moistened in the wind can be a complicated dance move.

What was interesting is that Pelosi as chief Democrat -- from a party that's long viewed the Constitution as some bendable, living document ready to be shaped to fit political need -- would reach back in time to Benjamin Franklin and the Constitutional Convention.

The new Americans were waiting in Philadelphia and asked Franklin whether we'd have a monarchy or a republic.

"A republic," Pelosi reminded us of Franklin's response. "If you can keep it."

Based on what modern Americans have been doing now for years, long before Trump, I'll speculate that just about everyone is now in their comfortable tribal camp (or is that womb?) on the Ukraine story.

Ask yourself: What would Republicans be doing right now if President Barack Obama were in office, and he'd withheld military aid to Ukraine unless they investigated his political opponents, say, some GOP milquetoast like Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney?

Republicans would be screaming bloody murder, just like the Democrats are doing right now, filling up with air, making big speeches and pithy tweets.

Which brings me back to Papou Pete, who didn't like speechifying politicians. I've mentioned this in previous columns, but since the Ukraine story is at bottom about politics and natural gas, I'm reminded of what Papou told me again and again:

When the politicians speak, the donkeys break wind.

Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

(COMMENT, BELOW)

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles