After the election it wasn’t hard to imagine Republicans in Congress starting to see Vice-President Mike Pence as a more viable, credible and stable alternative to a scandal plagued, unpredictable, undisciplined, and ethically- challenged president and the self-inflicted chaos of his leadership.
Their agenda and hold on power is more important to them than whether Trump or Pence is president. And Trump has managed, in less than six months, to put the real possibility of impeachment on the table.
Ever since Nixon’s resignation Republicans have been looking for something to rise to the level of another Watergate they could pin on a Democratic president. Bill Clinton gave them ammunition but they missed.
Now they may have found another Watergate. Only it’s with one of their own.
They promised to spend the first years of a Hillary Clinton presidency investigating the same Bengazi and e-mail server issues they’d already investigated. Instead they are called upon to begin the Trump presidency by investigating campaign ties to Russia and obstruction of justice.
By the time campaigning for the 2018 mid-term elections comes around, and that’s not too far off, Congressional Republicans might seriously tire of Trump. Fearing his negative impact on the election, they may be more inclined to support impeachment or become so unsupportive they urged him to resign and go build his planned media empire that that will feed his personal need for loyalty and undying admiration.
Impeachment is nothing to jump for joy over. It shouldn’t be used just because one doesn’t like the agenda, party affiliation or personality of an elected president. Yet it is the ultimate tool we have to constrain the abuse of the substantial powers we have given the presidency and the person.
Therefore we cannot shy away from the possibility when the evidence points us there. And therefore we cannot shy away from seeking and following the evidence.
I’m not predicting or advocating impeachment. Merely recognizing the possibility.
If Congress does it’s job, and that’s still an open question given Republicans control investigative committees, and if the special prosecutor and law enforcement agencies do their job, also still an open question, the evidence may point in that direction.
If that’s the case it will be harder and harder for Republicans to keep supporting Trump. The time it takes investigators to reach conclusions may give Republicans time to catch their breath, but it may also give investigations a permanent place in the news cycle and generate new, more damaging, revelations.
With 2018 elections looming what to do about Trump looms large for Congressional Republicans. If he keeps getting in the way of their agenda they have several choices. They can tough it out. They can support impeachment if there’s enough evidence for them to justify it. Or they can urge Trump to leave and spare them, and the country, more troubles.
In the later two cases, they end up with Pence as president.
For some the thought of a President Pence rescuing the Republican agenda is a worse scenario than an unpredictable and incomprehensible Trump undermining it.
But it is the unpredictability, thin-skinned lashing out, lying, and disregard for ethics of Trump himself that is the greater threat.
Some entrepreneur might want to start printing those Pence in 2018 buttons now.