The immediate impetus for the drive to impeach Trump, which began on election night 2016, is the fact that Democrats fully expected Hillary Clinton to win. The underlying impetus is that Democrats have long since abandoned more than token allegiance to the Constitution, which prescribes the rules by which Trump was elected. The Democrat candidate should have won, because that’s the way Democrats think. And the Democrat candidate would have won were the total popular vote decisive instead of the irrelevant Constitution. So Trump is an illegitimate president — in their view.
There is a contributing factor: The impeachment of Bill Clinton. It was obvious to me at the time that the drive to impeach Clinton was fueled by the widely held view, among Republicans, that he was an illegitimate president, even though he was duly elected according to the same rules that put Trump in office. A good case can be made that G.H.W. Bush would have won re-election in 1992 but for the third-party candidacy of Ross Perot. Once installed as president, Clinton incumbency (and relatively moderate policies) enabled him to win re-election in 1996.
The desperation of the impeachment effort against Clinton is evident in the scope of the articles of impeachment, which are about the lying and obstruction of justice that flowed from his personal conduct, and not about his conduct as chief executive of the United States government.
I admit that, despite the shallowness of the charges against Clinton, I was all for his impeachment and conviction. Moderate as his policies were, in hindsight, he was nevertheless a mealy-mouthed statist who, among other things, tried to foist Hillarycare on the nation.
At any rate, the effort to remove Clinton undoubtedly still rankles Democrats, and must be a factor in their fervent determination to remove Trump. This is telling:
“This partisan coup d’etat will go down in infamy in the history of our nation,” the congressman said.
He was outraged and wanted the nation to know why.
“Mr. Speaker,” he said, “this is clearly a partisan railroad job.”
“We are losing sight of the distinction between sins, which ought to be between a person and his family and his God, and crimes which are the concern of the state and of society as a whole,” he said.
“Are we going to have a new test if someone wants to run for office: Are you now or have you ever been an adulterer?” he said.
The date was Dec. 19, 1998. The House was considering articles of impeachment that the Judiciary Committee had approved against then-President Bill Clinton. The outraged individual, speaking on the House floor, was Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York.
Nadler now serves as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
What goes around comes around.