Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot wondered if the impeachment vote was worth it in the end.
Wednesday, President Donald Trump became the first president in history to get a bipartisan conviction vote. It still wasn't enough to remove him from office, as a two-thirds majority is a high standard. But it all prompted Boot to wonder if any of it will matter in the end.
"Was it worth it? As Zhou Enlai supposedly said of the French Revolution, it’s too early to say. But so far, impeachment has not lived up to either the greatest hopes or the worst fears of its advocates," Boot cited.
"In the best-case scenario, the incontrovertible weight of evidence would have led more than one Republican to turn against the president. No one ever imagined that there would be 67 votes to remove him, but it was at least conceivable that advocates of impeachment could obtain a bare Senate majority and thus make it harder for Trump to claim that this was all a partisan plot," he continued.
As has become clear, that's not who today's Republican Party is. The polls show significant opposition to the president among Democratic voters. The same swing is evident in the GOP, where few Republicans oppose Trump.
"The craven Senate Republicans were so terrified of Trump’s hold on their base that all but two of them voted against hearing from witnesses for the first time in impeachment history," Boot explained. "Their behavior brings to mind the Nixon defender who defiantly declared: 'Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind.' Wednesday’s acquittal comes despite, not because of, the evidence."
Trump's approval ratings are the highest they've ever been in his presidency -- yet, they're still not doing well.
"The good news for Trump’s opponents is that so far there is little evidence of a popular backlash against impeachment," said Boot. "Nearly 50 percent of the public supports impeachment and removal in the FiveThirtyEight polling average. That’s not enough to drive him out of office. But it is actually slightly higher than the number (46 percent) who wanted President Richard M. Nixon convicted in July 1974, just a few weeks before he resigned, and it’s far higher than support for impeaching President Bill Clinton, which topped out at a paltry 35 percent."
Meanwhile, Democrats are growing more frustrated and are more likely to come out in large numbers to vote against Republicans on Election Day. Followers of the president are still unmovable in their support for him. A small percentage of Americans are loyal to the president whatever it takes. Trump even said that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and they would still support him.
"In short, impeachment hasn’t fundamentally altered the political dynamics — and its impact is likely to dissipate even more before the election. Impeachment could have its biggest impact on House Democrats in red districts and Senate Republicans in blue states, but opinions of Trump are so entrenched that it doesn’t seem likely to leave a lasting mark on the presidential race one way or the other.