Nancy Pelosi has harpooned the great white whale. Now let’s see what happens to her Pequod.
If you don’t remember your classic American literature, Moby Dick sank the whaling ship Pequod and killed all aboard except the lone character of Ishmael, who lives to tell the story of how obsession destroyed Captain Ahab and those who served him.
The analogy of Melville’s “Moby Dick” to Pelosi’s revenge-obsessed pursuit of Donald Trump is an apt one.
Trump is a force of nature, just as the white whale was, and he has a habit of biting Democrats off at the knee. No wonder they thirst for retribution, but despite the Greek chorus of attaboys from the Resistance Media, Captain Pelosi and her three mates — Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney — are unlikely to prevail in the long run.
Let’s look at some of the scenarios that are possible if President Trump were to be impeached by a Democratic Party that has come unmoored from reason.
Most likely, the Republicans in the Senate would hold together and refuse to convict Trump on the partisan political charges cobbled together by the troublesome elves in the House. In that case, it is easy to declare Trump the winner. He no doubt would take a victory lap during which he would do dramatic reenactments of Pelosi metaphorically drowning in the wake of the giant whale she had foolishly tried to slay. A vindicated Trump would be the Democrats’ worst nightmare.
But what if Mitt Romney fulfills his dream of being just as powerful in the Republican caucus of the Senate as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among House Democrats? Although Republican senators have mostly stood strong until now, it is possible that the Pied Piper of Utah could whistle them into the impeachment ditch.
So what happens then?
If Republicans remove their sitting president from office less than a year before the next election, they had better get ready to reap the whirlwind. Not only will voters reward them for their perfidy with primary challenges, but they will also stay home in November 2020 and gladly let Democrats take complete control of the House and Senate. At that point, it would be better to give the arsonist Dems a book of matches and let them burn up the economy rather than trust Republicans to do the right thing. After the inevitable collapse of the Socialist States of America, we would be able to begin the process of rebuilding.
But what of Trump? This is where it becomes really interesting.
A president removed from office does not have to be barred from holding future office. The Constitution provides that removal from office may be accompanied by disqualification “to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” but Senate practice is to vote on disqualification separately.
There is some thought that the Democrats might bargain with Republicans to vote for removal of Trump from the presidency, but not to disqualify him from running again. The operating theory here is that Trump would be so weakened that he would no longer present a realistic danger of being elected. This would almost certainly be a fatal error for the Democrats, as Trump will be even more popular than ever after he is memorialized as a martyr of the Deep State. The so-called “Trump base” would turn out in record numbers, and the Trump haters would perhaps be so demoralized by his phoenix-like capacity for resurrection and their disgust with the Democratic leadership for letting Trump off the hook that they might well sit out the election.
You have to take account in this scenario of the fact that Mike Pence would now be president. He would have to choose between his own ambition and his loyalty to President Trump when deciding whether to run for election as president or reelection as vice president in 2020. But let’s face it, if Trump ran against Pence for the nomination, the recently ascendant Pence would have almost no chance of victory, as Republican support for Pence is largely proportional to his support for Trump.
Alternatively, if Trump were impeached and either was forced to sit out the next election or chose to do so, we would actually see the most interesting scenarios of all play out. Let’s assume that Pence, serving out the remainder of Trump’s term, would seek to be returned to office in his own right.
Would he be nominated without opposition? Of course not. We could expect a variety of Republican candidates to step forward to either carry on or thwart the Trump legacy. On the latter side, we almost certainly would see bids by Pierre Delecto (the senator formerly known as Mitt Romney) and former two-term Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who both see themselves as saviors of the party. Others would no doubt creep out of the woodwork.
Among those who want to carry on the Trump legacy, with varying degrees of sincerity, would be Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, but they would not be alone. In particular, there are three names that must be given serious consideration as successors to Donald Trump — those are Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump.
In one regard, impeachment would actually be doing Donald Trump a huge favor. He no doubt has considered the possibility of all of his oldest children following him into the White House, but knows that in the ordinary course of events, they would have a huge obstacle in the form of Americans’ innate distrust of dynastic presidencies.
So if President Trump were removed from office in what many consider to be an illegitimate impeachment (aka soft coup), it would be a huge opportunity for him to elongate his influence on the nation’s direction for decades. Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric have all proven themselves to be comfortable in the public arena, although each has different strengths.
Assuming that the three children are interested in assuming the mantle of power, there are two options that could play out. In one case, they engage in hand-to-hand combat to determine who has the most mettle for the job, but more likely they accede to the wishes of their father and let him pick his stand-in, who I predict would rise to the top of the polls instantly.
The smart money at this point would be on Don Jr., who has exhibited a zeal for political infighting and has spent months on the road doing fundraisers for the party faithful and building up connections that can’t be duplicated in short order. Ivanka, of course, is the apple of her father’s eye, and yet has proven to be quite capable at fighting in close quarters (the West Wing). Her somewhat more liberal agenda could be seen as a way to attract more independents while her last name would assure her of maintaining most of Trump’s base in the event of his ouster. My personal favorite is the underdog Eric, who is neither as abrasive as Don Jr. nor as unpredictable as Ivanka. He seems like a mensch, and his wife, Lara, would be a great secret weapon.
Whichever one of them ran in 2020 would be in a strong position to avenge his or her father, and set the table for their siblings to follow in years to come.
So here’s the score sheet.
Impeachment, but no conviction: Trump wins.
Impeachment with conviction, but Trump allowed to run for office again: Trump wins.
Impeachment with conviction, and Trump barred from federal office: Trump wins.
I started out this column by casting Nancy Pelosi as “Captain Ahab” and Trump as “Moby Dick,” but one other possibility exists for Trump. Indeed, he could be named after that sole survivor when the Pequod was destroyed, the narrator who lives to tell the tale. Call him Ishmael.
Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His new book — “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake” — is available at Amazon. Visit him at HeartlandDiaryUSA.com to read his daily commentary or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter @HeartlandDiary.