Impeachment Non-Watch

Mark Steyn

By Mark Steyn

Published Jan. 27, 2020

As I wrote in The Spectator way back on February 13th 1999:

At the time of writing, I do not know the verdict of the impeachment trial. But undoubtedly, by the time you read this, William Jefferson Clinton will have been convicted and removed by, oh, at least 83 out of 100 Senators.

Okay, maybe not.

So instead, in this brief interlude between the end of the President's first impeachment trial and the start of his second - over the so-called 'Jane Doe #5', the contract killing of Kathleen Willey's cat, or whatever else comes along - let me make another prediction: if Al Gore isn't president before November 2000, he won't be afterwards.

Actually, I made that prediction in these pages last summer, but now that the Vice-President is locking up the Democratic nomination it bears repeating: the woodman is on a one-way ticket to Loserville.

Technically, "November 2000" should have been January 2001. But, as longtime readers know, I'm no fan of the preposterous anachronistic three-month "transfer of power" - which in its most recent iteration was used (from day one) to subvert the incoming administration, cover the tracks of a banana-republic surveillance operation against the outgoing regime's political opponents and reverse-engineer it into a so-called "Russia investigation" that set us on course for the impeachment trial we're currently watching.

Or, in my case, not watching.

Other than that, my prediction of February 1999/Summer 1998 turned out to be correct.

In the 1999 piece cited above, I quote a brief exchange with California's petite brunette liberal extremist Barbara Boxer in which, in a preview of Nancy Pelosi's Praying Nantis routine, she regretted very sorrowfully and almost with a straight face that the GOP had now become the Get Our President party. The Democrat-media-Deep State troika have been playing Get Our President for three years.

Impeachment is a pseudo-judicial process applied by politicians. But it was never intended as a wholly political act. Were this one to succeed, it would reduce impeachment to a confidence vote under the Westminster system - in which the executive could be removed simply because it no longer commands the support of the legislature.

So, if Mrs Pelosi & Co now wish impeachment to be a wholly political act, what ultimately matters is the politics. At the time of the last trial, there was said to be a huge number of quiet, not terribly political Americans who simply didn't want to hear about oral sex every time they dialed up Dan Rather, Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw of an evening: they had had a year of having Clinton's executive branch shoved in their face, and, like Paula Jones, they just wanted to get outta there. That, it was generally believed, was the reason that the House that impeached him lost seats to the Dems in November 1998.

On the other hand, I discerned another sliver of the electorate: as quietly weary as the above group and as disinclined to be holed up in Slick Willie's Ozark Playboy grotto ...but just as quietly offended by the amorality, corruption, narcissism and political-class entitlement revealed by Clinton's peccadilloes. If impeachment is a political matter, then ultimately the politics did not go well for the Democrats: In November 2000 the Republicans won the House, the Senate and the Presidency.

The only (almost-) impeachment to grip the nation in the age of mass media was Nixon's. Back then in the pre-cable era, Congressional hearings flickered on the screen in the corner during suburban dinner parties. The film The Ice Storm - about car-key swingers in Connecticut - has the Nixon drama ongoing on the TV sets of its principals: that's to say, even people who like the idea of Clinton waggling his distinguishing characteristics in their face were sufficiently engrossed by Halderman, Mitchell, Dean et al to avert their gaze therefrom and watch the telly.

Not this time. CBS quickly dumped impeachment for its daytime soaps. Fox, after a couple of hours of Adam Schiff ready for his close-up doing the Xtreme Sports version of Ethel Merman's Gypsy finale, restored its regular hosts from 5pm Eastern and cleaned up in the ratings. MSNBC would have been advised to do the same: The only non-Fox show to place in Thursday's Top Ten was Lawrence O'Donnell's - because he was the only MSNBC hotshot who wasn't pre-empted by Schiff's "I Gotta Be Me" routine.

Impeachment has been worth just shy of an extra million to Fox's ratings - and done nothing much for anyone else, except to keep Rachel Maddow out of Thursday's Top Ten. So, in terms of base-energizing, it seems to be doing more for the President's supporters. As I said yonks back on Rush, for Schiff et al this trial was supposed to be the knockout primary candidate to run against Trump: I M Peachment, an abstract repository of popular outrage against Orange Man that would outperform the actual unsatisfactory flesh-and-blood creatures stumping Iowa and New Hampshire.

I argued that, in fact, the Dems' hardcore base wants a socialist utopia and is less obsessed by Trump than Alyssa Nadler and Jerold Milano are. They'd rather switch on the TV and see Bernie and AOC talking open borders, free college and socialist health care.

And, for the electoral scorecard, as two decades ago, the demographic sliver that matters may be a non-noisy portion of the citizenry once again outraged by the amorality, corruption, narcissism and political-class entitlement - the last of which has been extended from a lifetime right to fellatio to a lifetime right to policies and personnel.

I shall non-watch on.

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Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human rights activist. Among his books is "The Undocumented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned". (Buy it at a 54% discount by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 67% discount by clicking here. Sales help fund JWR)