Last week was a black week in America, one guaranteed to drive further the wedge between the liberals and the conservatives, hard as that is to imagine.
On Thursday, the 24 Democrats and 17 Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee spent more than 14 hours "debating" whether President Donald Trump should be impeached by the House and then convicted in the Senate and removed from office. It was an ugly, ugly spectacle, one that did absolutely nothing to change any minds.
There was some lofty rhetoric, to be sure. But there also were slurs and slanders aplenty on both sides of the divide. Watching it was like passing a car wreck: You don't want to stare, but you just can't look away.
Shortly before midnight Thursday, Republicans were ready to vote on the two articles of impeachment, as they had been assured would happen. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, decided to adjourn for the night, possibly so more Americans could watch the vote Friday morning. Republicans were livid. But Friday morning came and the committee approved two impeachment measures against the president: one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress -- as if Congress doesn't do enough to obstruct itself.
It was no surprise that the two measures passed 23 to 17 along straight party lines. Democrat Ted Lieu of California missed the vote after undergoing emergency heart surgery.
The straight-party vote is concerning and it says a lot about the validity of the impeachment. Republicans on the committee are right when they say Democrats had been out to remove President Trump from office from the moment he was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. It is obvious that congressional Democrats dislike the president with an almost visceral passion. Polls show that roughly half the country is behind the Democratic position, with slightly fewer Americans defending the president.
Apparently, Republicans also are correct in saying Democrats want the president removed from office because they fear they won't be able to beat him at the polls next November.
Perhaps, though, the Democrats assured the president's reelection by pressing forward on the impeachment hearings. It begs the questions why Democratic leaders were so hell-bent on impeaching the president. With Democrats firmly in control of the House, impeachment sees a foregone conclusion. But it is the Senate that will try the president -- with Chief Justice John Roberts sitting as judge -- and Republicans aren't about to convict President Trump. Such has been the case throughout the impeachment imbroglio. So it will be no surprise later this week when the House votes to impeach the president, just as it will be no surprise in January when the Senate votes not to convict him.
So, why the push for impeachment by the Democrats? Simple: They believed the American public would rally to their cause after the president was exposed asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden -- a potential Democratic challenger to the president next year -- and his son Hunter's questionable relationship with Burisma Holdings, one of the largest private natural gas producers in Ukraine.
Even the White House admits President Trump made the request, shortly before releasing some $400 million in badly needed military aid to Ukraine, authorized early year by Congress to assist that country in its fight against Russia. Democrats contend that the president's initial decision to withhold the funding was quid pro quo -- in this case a promise to release the military funding if Ukraine's president instigated a probe of the Bidens. If that is the case, the president was using the power of his office for personal gain -- i.e., getting political dirt on the president's potential rival in the race for the White House.
Republicans say there was nothing unusual about the phone call between the two presidents. All presidents do similar things, they say, adding that the military aid was released without Ukraine beginning an investigation of the Bidens. For his part, President Trump said he withheld the money to ensure that Ukraine corruption wouldn't divert the money meant to bolster the Ukraine military.
So, like little children on the playground, Republicans cried "did not" while Democrats insisted, "did too."
Frankly, we wish Democrats had never started down this road. America grows more divided every day, and the country is approaching a boiling point that will cause great harm to this nation for generations to come. This impeachment will exacerbate the already increasing tensions -- all for a situation that will go nowhere.
Once they started down this path, though, it was already too late to turn back. Nadler -- who refused to keep the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee apprised of what he was planning to do -- and Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, routinely thwarted Republican attempts to call witnesses, make motions and offer advice. Republicans may have tried to overreach, but the Democrats appeared to exclude the Republicans from the investigation.
For their part, Republicans tried to use every parliamentary trick they could think of to stall the investigation. For his part, President Trump refused Democratic subpoenas for documents and refused to let White House staffers testify before the House committees.
It all ads up to much ado about nothing, to quote William Shakespeare. Macbeth, in perhaps the Bard's greatest play, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury / Signifying nothing."
Our Founders meant impeachment to be a method of last resort to stop a president from doing serious harm to this nation. It was not meant to be used as frivolously as the Democrats have done.
At the same time, Democrats uncovered some serious lapses in judgment by President Trump, possibly even impeachable offenses. But this entire process has been a farce, an effort in futility.
Nobody in Congress, nobody in the White House comes out of this mess unharmed.
We wonder how the Democrats will treat President Trump once he is acquitted in the Senate next month.
Unfortunately, we suspect we already know the answer.
And how will the Republicans retaliate against a Democratic president?
That we'll have to wait a while to know.