In December 1998, a relatively young (and extremely obese) Rep. Jerrold Nadler thought it was a big mistake to pursue a party-line impeachment against President Bill Clinton.
“There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other,” he said at the time. “Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come and will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.”
Wow, that sounds like serious stuff. Years of divisiveness and bitterness? The loss of public faith in our political institutions? It’s no wonder that the New York Democrat said that this should NEVER happen. It sounds like the kind of thing that could leave our country in tatters!
We have to hand it to Dana Bash. We’re not in the habit of praising CNN hosts, but she did a pretty good job on Sunday of putting Nadler on the spot.
“Right now you’re moving forward against impeachment without support from one congressional Republican. Is it fair to say that this impeachment in your words back then will provide ‘divisiveness and bitterness for years to come?’” Bash asked.
If Nadler had an ounce of integrity, he would have just shrugged, smiled, and said something like, “Yeah, you got me, Dana. Truth is, I’m just a party hack who says whatever it takes to please my liberal constituents back home. I don’t have any honor or principles. I just want to win.”
Instead, he gave us this nonsense: “No, what I think puts bitterness and divisiveness into our politics is the conduct of the president, who questions the patriotism of people who don’t agree with him, who calls political opponents human scum, who talks about the fake press, who derides the judiciary, who attacks all of our democratic institutions.”
That’s so many words to say, “Sorry, I’m a big fat hypocrite.”
Because that’s what you are, Jerry. And while you’re in good company on Capitol Hill when it comes to that particular trait, that doesn’t make it any less contemptible.
The truth is, you had the right measure of the situation back in 1998. A completely partisan impeachment is a twisted distortion of what the Founders intended when they wrote the Constitution. If there is any consolation, it’s that your party is going to reap the consequences of this tragic mistake.