In a blistering op-ed for Fox News this weekend, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Nancy Pelosi had made the mistake of her political life by holding a House vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry. Noting that as recently as March, Pelosi had publicly stated that impeachment was “so divisive” for the country that it would take “something compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan” to initiate an inquiry, Gingrich said that the House Speaker had unwisely turned against her own better judgment.
“Measured by that standard, the Thursday vote was a terrible failure. The House voted in an entirely partisan manner except for two Democrats who split to vote no with the Republicans,” Gingrich wrote. “Months of leaks, secret investigations, news media hysteria, and a parade of witnesses failed to move a single Republican to vote yes. The so-called whistleblower has decayed into a potential liability so much the Democrats are now talking about never bringing him to testify.”
Gingrich is no stranger to impeachment proceedings. But he makes the case that Congress’s move against Bill Clinton in the late 1990s enjoyed (at least some) bipartisan support, and he points to several polls that show that the American people did not view impeachment at that time as an attempted coup by Republicans. Indeed, 31 House Democrats joined Republicans in calling for Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. On Thursday, not a single Republican voted to formalize the inquiry.
This, Gingrich said, was an “enormous strategic defeat” for Pelosi and the Democrats.
“Measured against her own standard, the vote on Halloween was a terrible defeat which is likely to haunt the House Democrats through the 2020 election,” he predicted. “That vote will cost a lot of Democrats their seats next year. When combined with the radicalism of the national Democratic candidates for president, and the continued economic growth under President Trump’s policies, it is likely that Thursday’s vote guaranteed this would be a one-term Democratic majority, and we will be hearing from Speaker Kevin McCarthy in 2021.”
We are not quite as confident as Gingrich about the political ramifications of the Democrats’ push toward impeachment; he is discounting the power of the mainstream media and their efforts to lend legitimacy to this process. He may also be underestimating the degree to which Democrat voters are willing to swallow any old horse-you-know-what if it means removing Trump from office.
On the other hand, Democrats will not be the only ones voting next November. And you can bet that Pelosi’s unfair, illegitimate impeachment inquiry will not be viewed as kindly by moderates, independents, or Republicans. Trump’s all-but-predestined acquittal in the Senate (if Pelosi even has the temerity to impeach) will give him a tremendous boost going into the general election. And voters in districts where House Democrats won by the skin of their teeth are not pleased with what Sen. Ben Sasse correctly called a “partisan clown show.”
We do think that this impeachment inquiry will backfire. We do believe that Pelosi is making a grave mistake.
But in a country where leftists would rather endure a recession than see Trump reelected, we’re not quite ready to get cocky.