Walking and chewing gum simultaneously really isn't hard
Alex Pareene is now writing at The New Republic (how times have changed!) and this piece on the merits of impeachment is 100% correct:
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election shows multiple attempts by President Donald Trump to obstruct the investigation, clearly driven by panic that Mueller’s team would uncover something disastrous for his presidency. Trump was fairly explicit on this point from the very beginning. When he was informed of Mueller’s appointment, he raged at his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. “Oh my God,” he said, according to notes taken by Sessions’s chief of staff. “This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”
Trump was, as he often is, incorrect. He perhaps overestimated the scope of Mueller’s inquiry, which was limited strictly to Russian electoral interference. He almost certainly underestimated the political cowardice of his political opponents.
If Trump is fixated on testing the limits of his power, constantly suggesting (and sometimes outright demanding) his subordinates violate the law on his behalf, his congressional opposition is led by people, like Hoyer, terrified to exercise their own power. They’re worried that an acquittal in Mitch McConnell’s Senate would be seen, by the public and the mainstream press, as a vindication of Trump rather than another lesson in the lengths the Republican Party will go to to cover for a clearly unfit and crooked president. But it doesn’t even have to go that far.
Democrats who preemptively declare impeachment off the table are mistakenly (or intentionally) conflating one possible end result of the impeachment process for the process itself. The Republican members of Congress who voted to open an impeachment inquiry into Nixon’s conduct didn’t necessarily want it to end in his removal from office; even up until his resignation it was an open question whether there were enough votes in the Senate to remove him. They were trying to get at the truth about the administration’s actions, and using impeachment to gather evidence. (They didn’t even limit themselves to Watergate. The committee eventually also voted on whether to impeach Nixon for the illegal bombing of Cambodia and for failure to pay taxes.)
As Patrick Blanchfield says, impeachment, even if it “fails” in the Senate, is a chance to take a moral stand against corruption and unaccountable elites. As Jeff Hauser writes, it is a chance to weave the disparate (and quickly forgotten) scandals of the entire Trump presidency into a single narrative that the easily distracted (and even more easily spun) mainstream press can follow.
The problem is, Hoyer apparently doesn’t want to do those things. What Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (who ruled out impeachment well before anyone read the Mueller Report) want is to write op-eds about how many bills they are passing, despite the fact that those bills (like, uh, impeachment) will never get through the Senate.
Democratic leadership seemingly believes that the party can’t let its candidates campaign on promises to materially improve the lives of voters while also letting its elected officials carry out the responsibilities of their offices. They also believe, deep in their bones, that the country is not on their side. They believe going after Trump too directly will stir his mighty base, rather than imagining that full and transparent investigations into his various fraudulent and corrupt activities may demoralize his staunchest supporters—just as Trump himself was demoralized at the prospect of Mueller’s investigation—while also persuading those people who aren’t already in the cult of MAGA that this administration, and the party that abets it, need to be soundly defeated.
I think allowing Trump to claim that Mueller exonerated him by failing to follow the clear roadmap Mueller laid out makes him look like a giant slayer, a man so powerful that even in the face of 400 pages of proof of his criminality and unfitness the other side is too frightened to take him on. For a whole lot of people that makes him the ultimate winner, the guy they want fighting for them.
Needless to say, it makes the Democrats who were voted into power to stop him look like feckless losers.