I do not agree with everything National Review says about impeachment in this editorial, but they are mostly right. As the NR editors explain, that is certainly a more defensible position than Donald Trump’s stubborn insistence that there was nothing wrong with his call. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president was nowhere near perfect. The President’s ham-fisted diplomacy It was awkward, unprofessional and unwise, but it was not an impeachable offense.
But this writer at The Federalist does not agree. John Daniel Davidson argues:
But to counsel GOP senators to engage this sort of argument as a political strategy against a Democratic Party marching in lock-step for impeachment is deeply naïve.
See, the thing is that both Davidson and National Review are right, but they are coming at it from entirely different perspectives. Davidson is right that if this is a bid to get goodwill from Democrats in Congress, it will fail. But National Review is right that a balanced strategy that recognizes Trump’s error would be much more effective with voters than Trump’s obstinate “perfect call” strategy, because Trump’s strategy is divorced from reality.
But there is a more important reason that National Review is right: Because recognizing Trump’s error while arguing it is within his authority as President to push Ukraine to investigate corruption is the factually, legally and morally correct argument to make. Of course the President should be concerned about corruption, and of course he should pressure governments of nations that get huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to fight against corruption. The way Trump went about it was clumsy and unprofessional, and he should have relied more on the State Department professionals instead of thinking he knows everything. He does not.
And this is the problem with Trump in a nutshell: He always thinks he is the smartest and most competent person in any room he is in, when that is clearly not the case. When Trump does make a mistake, he petulantly refuses to admit it and goes all-in on complete and total exoneration, when a smarter strategy would be to take a more legally and factually sound approach that protects his authority while not providing ammunition to the Democrats. This entire impeachment drama is a self-inflicted wound – an unforced error that gave the Democrats an opportunity they never should have had.
None of that is going to change, but that does not prevent Republicans in the House and Senate from being the adults in the room.