"They've already succeeded": Will Bunch on the GOP's impeachment clown show
They don't have evidence. But they don't need any for their purposes.
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As House Republicans turn the impeachment process into a joke with their evidence-free Joe Biden fishing expedition, we thought Will Bunch, national opinion columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, would be the perfect person to talk to ahead of James Comer’s first impeachment-related hearing on Thursday.
“My personal history with impeachment goes all the way back to 1973-74 and Richard Nixon. I was a 14-15-year-old going into high school and I was obsessed, a total teenaged Watergate geek,” he told us. “I raced home from swimming lessons to rapturously watch John Dean testify. Although there was no lightbulb moment, I have no doubt the experience is what made me decide around that time that I wanted to become a journalist.”
About 25 years later, Bunch covered Bill Clinton’s impeachment for the Philadelphia Daily News. That experience left him less enthused.
“The day the Lewinsky story broke I went into the managing editor's office to argue what a big story this was,” he said. “But my feelings changed. Everything felt off. I came to realize this was nothing like Nixon, when the soul of the nation was on the line.”
Fast forward another 20 years, and Bunch was at the Capitol when the House voted to impeach Donald Trump for the first time in 2019.
“It did feel exciting, but since then the excitement has faded,” he adds. “I started to wonder, Peggy Lee style, is that all there is, to impeachments?”
RELATED FROM PN: The right's shameless Hunter Biden obsession
Now, Bunch says Republicans are “making a mockery of the whole idea” by pursuing an impeachment inquiry based on mere “innuendo” about Hunter Biden.
“Look at Donald Nixon or Billy Carter, Roger Clinton or Neil Bush. Presidential family members have often been an embarrassment, and in a lot of these cases, they cashed in,” Bunch said. “Unfortunately, the Biden family has carried on this tradition, but there’s no evidence Joe Biden got any money or changed any of his policies to accommodate his son.”
Public Notice contributor Thor Benson connected with Bunch to get his perspective on the historical and political context of the GOP’s impeachment clown show — including why he thinks it’s already paying dividends for Republicans, even though they don’t have the goods.
A transcript of their conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.
What are your initial thoughts on the impeachment inquiry?
My overarching point on the Biden impeachment is just how predictable it’s been. I wrote a column more than a year and a half ago that was headlined “The Impeachment of Joe Biden,” and the point I made then that has proven to be exactly right was that if Republicans regained the majority in the House, this was just something they were going to do. There wouldn’t necessarily need to be any real cause for it.
It’s partly just what their mindset is. I don’t even really call the Republicans a political party anymore. I call them a movement, because “political party” implies that they still believe in following the guardrails of democracy, and they don’t. It’s all about aggressively investigating or punishing your enemies and rewarding your friends.
Clearly there’s an added personal twist that this is a movement that is totally enthralled with Donald Trump right now, and Trump’s number one priority is revenge — particularly for his impeachment. You probably recall that a couple months ago, there was talk in the House of doing a vote to “expunge” Trump’s two impeachments. I was not even aware that’s a thing, but it could still happen.
It’s a mindset and political strategy to neuter Trump’s legal problems. And it seems to be working. There was a poll that just came out that said that voters, by and large, see both Trump and Biden as equally ethically challenged. That was a mission accomplished moment for this strategy. It shows that, in a way, they’ve already succeeded.
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It also seems to be a play by Kevin McCarthy to appease people who could oust him from his position as speaker.
That’s absolutely true. If you go all the way back to January of this year, when you had the 15 votes or whatever it was to make McCarthy the speaker, he had to make all these concessions. I think one them probably had to do with impeaching Biden and how to make it happen.
How much political damage do you think this could do to Biden? Or might it actually help him?
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