The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back, by Michael Anton.

The experts don’t like to be challenged — especially by non-expert voters or the politicians they elect to limit administrative state power. Here, finally, we come to the “truest cause, though least in speech” of the impeachment freight train: the administrative state is striking back at a mortal threat. As [Professor John Marini] explained in a recent speech,

Many great scandals arise not as a means of exposing corruption, but as a means of attacking political foes while obscuring the political differences that are at issue. This is especially likely to occur in the aftermath of elections that threaten the authority of an established order. In such circumstances, scandal provides a way for defenders of the status quo to undermine the legitimacy of those who have been elected on a platform of challenging the status quo—diluting, as a consequence, the authority of the electorate.” …

It is no accident or coincidence that the only three presidents who have fundamentally challenged the administrative state — and questioned its song sheet, the “U.S. government policy community consensus”—  have been dogged by “scandal” and threatened with impeachment: Richard Nixon by Watergate, Ronald Reagan by Iran Contra, and now Trump. (Whatever you think of Bill Clinton’s impeachment, it was emphatically not driven or supported by the administrative state, which protected him at every turn.) Trump would likely take this as small consolation, but it’s a measure of how much he’s feared that his enemies are running this play against him now, rather than simply trying to defeat him next year. Which more than suggests they doubt they can.

Challenge the administrative state, and they try to bring you down with scandal

Simply based on what we know so far, the whole thing looks engineered, like those “lawfare” cases in which clever lawyers and activists find sympathetic plaintiffs, carefully choose friendly venues, and file lawsuits not to redress specific, genuine injustices but to force changes in policy—anti-democratically, it goes without saying. …

I don’t see it. Especially since a) no aid was actually withheld; b) no investigation was actually launched; c) the American people don’t care about Ukraine and would probably prefer to get their $400 million back; and d) they would inevitably ask: so were, in fact, Joe Biden and his son on the take from a foreign government? And if it looks like they might have been, why, exactly, was it improper for the president to ask about it? …

If the Republicans “collude” with this sham and force the removal of a president whose approval rating within his party hovers north of 90%, and whose voters scarcely understand—much less agree with—the “case” against him, they will destroy the party forever.