President Donald Trump has built a reputation as the consummate survivor in American politics. He has plowed through dozens of personal, financial, and corruption scandals with, if not exactly good approval ratings, then at the very least a lack of meaningful consequences.
As Charles Pierce wrote in Esquire, however, the revelation that Trump tried to strong-arm the Ukrainian government into helping him dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden could represent a true "beginning of the end" — because it has finally convinced a critical mass of Democrats that drastic measures need to be taken to stop this presidency.
"The House Democrats, slower than molasses up until this point, suddenly have been transformed into quick drying cement around the president*'s ankles," wrote Pierce. "Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut now has come close to calling for an impeachment inquiry; she is a close friend and closer ally to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, so that's a signifying development, as is the op-ed signed by seven rookie Democratic congresscritters from toss-up congressional districts, all of whom, significantly, have experience in the national security apparatus, in which they call for investigations to intensify. The Ukraine business has shifted something in the political tectonics. The slippage has begun in earnest, on one side of the aisle, anyway."
"On the other side, there are clues within the Post stories that folks are feeling the ground shift under their feet as well," wrote Pierce, noting that administration officials were reportedly confused why Trump had delayed military aid to the Ukraine, and Congressional leaders demanded to know why the Office of Management and Budget, which reportedly authorized this scheme, was taking control of Defense and State Department outlays. "Between the lines there, you can hear the pitter-patter of little feet as they begin to jog toward the lifeboats. 'Don't quote me, but we all knew something was screwy here and, by the way, I was against the whole business from the start.'"
There is precedent, wrote Pierce, for Congress dragging its feet in the face of a criminal presidency until one key event unraveled everything.
"Years ago, while recounting the cascading events of the summer of 1974 that led to the excision of Richard Nixon from the body politic, political historian Walter Karp wrote of the impeachment vote in the House Judiciary Committee that 'the hour of the Founders had come around at last,'" wrote Pierce. "Karp was unsparing in his criticism of how dilatory the system had proven itself to be in the face of Nixon's crimes. He criticized the Republicans for enabling a criminal administration, and he criticized the Democrats for having had to be dragged into their constitutional duty by their ears."
What finally galvanized everyone to recognize the constitutional crisis at hand was the Saturday Night Massacre — the move by Nixon to fire the Watergate special prosecutor and the raft of Justice Department resignations it triggered.
"We are there again," concluded Pierce. "Despite Republican enabling and Democratic timidity, the hour of the Founders has come around again. There is no place left for anyone to hide, no clever dodge left to employ, nothing left to kick down the road. History accepts no alibis."