If an Impeach Tree Falls in the Forest

Happy impending second night of Hanukkah and happy eve of Christmas Eve to all our readers around the world. Almost every political leader in the west issues a pro forma Hanukkah greeting these days, but Boris Johnson’s is unusually substantive and a not so implicit rebuke to the party opposite.

~A fellow called “Redrum” (not the late steeplechaser, I assume) left a comment on my YouTube page on Friday:

The president of the United States just got impeached and you put out no video?

Indeed, I don’t. Mr “Redrum” has his own YouTube channel and he “put out no video” either. By comparison with the only two impeachment processes of the mass-media era, the indifference of the public to last Wednesday’s “historic” vote is palpable. The mutual support groups of Beltway Democrats and media are hot for it, because they hate Trump the most, because he made them look like fools that Tuesday night three Novembers ago. But, as I suggested to John Oakley last week, the Dems’ most energetic constituency – youngish hardcore leftists of a Bernie/AOC bent – isn’t aroused by Adam Schiff’s SCIF skit …because they want free college, open borders, socialist health care, and impeachment may be an amusing diversion for loser MSNBC hacks but it doesn’t actually get America any closer to that blessed utopia.

~Further, has the President really been impeached? After my Oakley appearance, Todd Lewis, a Virginia member of The Mark Steyn Club, commented:

Mark always implies that he much prefers codes and conventions [ie, Commonwealth constitutions] over checks and balances [America’s]. I confess I’ve never really been able to wrap my head around that. Codes and conventions seems vague and malleable to me.

I wouldn’t say I “prefer” them, Todd, but they are the norm: America’s Founders were exceptional in their wish to put everything in writing, mainly as a result of their experience with George III. However, as a practical matter, in their contemporary form both systems are leading to the same sad state by different routes: a post-constitutional order.

For example, impeachment is one of those checks and balances on the President, which itself is constrained by a countervailing check and balance on the House of Representatives. The House can vote to impeach the guy, but it then goes to the Senate for trial, and only upon conviction in the upper chamber is the chief magistrate then removed from office.

Yet Nancy Pelosi tells us she’s not minded to send her allegedly open-and-shut case over to the Senate – as has happened with the only two relevant precedents. In a real courtroom, this would be failure to prosecute and the case would be dismissed, as happened to fraudulent litigant Michael E Mann in British Columbia. When a chap initiates a suit but dithers in prosecuting it (and there was a lot of that in the Katz/Blaze/CRTV bollocks), it’s generally because he’s a loser and knows it. But impeachment is a political act dressed up with pseudo-judicial accoutrements, so Schiff and Pelosi can get away with it.

Indeed, for much of the last three years, it’s been clear that large portions of the legislature, the bureaucracy and the courts are just making it up as they go along – and inflicting damage not so much on Trump but on republican governnment itself. Whereas Alan Dershowitz calls this impeachment “unconstitutional”, Ken Starr calls it “anti-constitutional”. I’d give this one to Ken: An “anti-constitutional” action is a threat not just to the target thereof, but to the constitution itself. As things stand, Trump will be the first president subject to impeachment proceedings in the House to run for re-election – and likely win. Thus the net effect of Wednesday’s “historic” vote will be to define impeachment down: either it will become routine when the Oval Office and the House of Representatives are held by different parties, and thus be little more than a vote of no confidence …but with no consequences; or it will have rendered the process so risible that there will be no further impeachments at all.

So Trump is correct to treat this as a joke – and the longer Madam Speaker delays in sending it to trial the bigger a joke it will become. To modify Irving Berlin, if you don’t want impeachment, you’d better stop shaking the tree.

~Either way, how “historic” is it? It took a century to get America to its first impeached president, and there were then no more for the next century. In the years since, three of the last eight (and two of the last four) chief executives have had articles of impeachment drawn up against them. So it’s getting to fifty-fifty. As I said to John Oakley, both the US Constitution and the Westminster system presume the participation of gentlemen: Cincinnatus will return to his farm, and Lord Home will return to the Hirsel. But a permanent political class – “the swamp” – puts every code and convention, every check and balance in jeopardy.

~One reason why impeachment is going nowhere is because the social class hottest for it is going everywhere else. In happier times, Anna Wintour of Vogue co-hosted starry Obama fundraisers with Harvey Weinstein. But nowadays her minions are fleeing Impeachistan for tonier climes:

Vogue editors were mocked this weekend for revealing the long list of elite and exotic holiday destinations they’ll be traveling to “detox” from Christmas.

It is a magnificently self-parodic selection of Yuletide destinations:

In the article, deputy editor Sarah Harris revealed she would “be heading to the Cayman Islands to stay at the newly opened Palm Heights for Christmas and New Year,” while fashion features editor Ellie Pithers wrote she’ll “be in the French Alps for New Year’s Eve,” because “a dose of icy alpine air always seems to sort me out after the excesses of Christmas.”

“I’m looking forward to a spell at Le Coucou in Méribel, a new hotel designed by Pierre Yovanovitch with a delicious-looking spa; and a stop-off at Le Refuge de Solaise in Val d’Isère. Only accessible via ski lift, it promises superlative stargazing and fresh powder before breakfast,” Pithers detailed.

Executive fashion news editor Olivia Singer boasted an upcoming trip to the Lanserhof for a week-long “detox” to “counterbalance the abundance of December,” and others spoke of exotic trips to Jamaica and Nicaragua, with lists of luxury clothing and accessories which they plan to take.

Unmentioned in these effusions is that the only reason “features editors” and “news editors” can afford to stay at Le Coucou and the Lanserhof is because someone else is paying for it. They are in that sense a perfect complement to Hunter Biden and Hillary and all the rest.

~If you’re “looking forward to a spell” at the EconoLodge round the back of the freight yards this Christmas, we have some modest seasonal pleasures to help you “detox”. On a busy weekend at SteynOnline, our marquee presentation was this year’s edition of The Mark Steyn Christmas Show, with comedy legend Orson Bean as both Scrooge and Stevie Wonder, and Irish tenor Anthony Kearns essaying not only “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” but also “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. My Sunday song selection was a bit of unfinished business from the Christmas show, and Kathy Shaidle’s Saturday movie column remembered Gene Wilder. The weekend was bookended by the last of our Christmas Tales for Our Time by L M Montgomery and the first by Jack London. You can hear Part One of our return to Green Gables here and Part Two here. And you can listen to the first of our Klondike Christmas tales here. If you were preoccupied with mince-pie preparations and/or bah-humbug routines this weekend, I hope you’ll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week commences.

The second of Jack London’s Klondike Christmas tales will air right here this evening, just ahead of my appearance with Tucker on TV. You can listen to each story individually before you lower your lamp – or have a good old binge-listen here. Tales for Our Time is made with the support of members of The Mark Steyn Club. For more information on the Steyn Club, click here.

See you on the telly this evening, or on the radio for a full three hours on Christmas Eve.