Trial and Error

The Democrats are wasting no time in squandering their victory

by Conrad Black

Impeachment will likely prove the most disastrous political initiative since Richard Nixon involved himself directly in the Watergate defense strategy. Joe Biden had a perfect opportunity to be a president of unity and bipartisanship by watering down to a censure vote this second annual spurious impeachment of Donald Trump, or forcing its abandonment altogether. If he had wished to couple such a statesmanlike gesture with a backhanded continuation of the malicious assault upon Trump that has been uninterrupted these five years, he could have informally assured some sort of prosecution in the courts of the District of Columbia, where any Republican, the party of 3 to 5 percent of D.C. residents, will be convicted of any charge, as if every juror were Congresswoman Maxine (“Impeach Trump!”) Waters. The strategic direction of the Democrats seemed extraordinarily astute at times in the last year: parachuting a discarded Joe Biden in ahead of a rampaging Bernie Sanders, invoking the coronavirus to keep the candidate in his basement while the airtight Democratic-media and social-media cartel conducted the Democratic campaign, and pushing mail-in voting and other changes to the electoral system under cover of the pandemic.

There are many precedents for political leaders and strategists to be much more expert in gaining office than in executing it. If the Biden regime had opted for a de-escalation of hostilities by forcing through (and they would have had some Republican support for it) a reasonably worded censure of the president for his reckless exhortation on January 6, while leaving it to the D.C. kangaroo courts to tie up the former president in years of pretrial, trial, and appellate activity to get clear of the ludicrous complaint about to be pitched in the U.S. Senate, they could have extended their honeymoon, distracted the country from their already obvious shortcomings, and severely aggravated the fissiparous forces within the Republican Party.

If the Democrats insist on producing witnesses and stretching the case out, they will strangle a Biden honeymoon that has already been largely wasted by their ostentatious refusal to make any compromise on an extravagant COVID-19 relief bill, by pandering to the open-borders minority of their followers, by a full-metal-jacket assault on the energy industry, by starting to dismantle the alliance Trump had forged between Israel and the principal Arab powers, and by warming up to the appeasement of the beastly theocracy in Iran.

President Biden has rearranged the portraits and other decor in the Oval Office, as all incoming presidents do. He has placed a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt among the Founding Fathers of the country, removed the flags of the six armed forces, and prominently placed busts of John F. and Robert F. Kennedy. This is all perfectly reasonable, particularly for a Democratic president. And it implies that he is conversant with FDR’s formulation in two speeches to the Congress in 1941 that revealed the basis of subsequent American foreign policy. In the State of the Union message of January of that year, FDR said: “We must always be wary of those who ‘with sounding brass and tinkling cymbal’ would preach the ‘ism’ of appeasement.” In his war message after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he said: “We will make very certain that this form of treachery never again endangers us.”

The enemies of America and of Western civilization devised a crude method of evading the determination of Roosevelt and all his successors to avoid appeasement of evil and to deter evil by any nation, by subsidizing terrorism whose national origin is difficult to trace and punish appropriately. By preparing to appease Iran, this president is sidling up to a policy that amounts to peace through weakness. All those with an interest — not just China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, but those who have come to rely on American strength and vigilance regarding its international strategic interests — will adjust their policies appropriately if this unpromising tendency is confirmed. Anonymous Homeland Security Department officials allegedly wrote last year that white supremacists are a greater threat to American national security than international terrorists. If that is the position of the new administration in national-security matters, this administration has already begun its descent into ignominy and failure, a journey that will be hastened by the contemptible farce of an impeachment trial of a retired president.

That trial will also be the greatest possible revival of the political career that it is designed to end.

First published in National Review.


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