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Impeachment Circus: Fig Leaf for a Failing Administration?

In less than a week, President Biden has squandered his honeymoon and descended through Dante’s Inferno.

An impeachment article against President Trump is being sent to the Senate on Monday, meaning the process must begin no later than 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The parties will begin their presentations for trial on the week of February 8, according to Senator Chuck Schumer. But what has prompted the urgency to start the process? In the three days since his inauguration, President Joe Biden has released a swath of Executive Orders and memoranda; it seems that this flurry of activity has burned away all the grace given to a new president during the traditional honeymoon period. Biden needs a distraction to release the pressure.

What was set to be a time of bipartisan cooperation and media fawning has descended into a battlefield of recrimination and powerplays. The Democrat-led Congress expected to be calling the shots for a president they elevated to the top spot; instead, they have a leader who is determined to mark the pinnacle of his career as a man of action and substance – consequence be damned.

The Honeymoon Is Over

The last two days have seen “#ImpeachBidenNow,” and “#BidenErasedWomen” as the top Twitter trends. The White House press briefings (well handled by newcomer Jen Psaki) have switched from sponsored love-ins to combative demands for clear answers. CNN has been accused of trying to minimize expectations of the administration. Fact-checkers have been forced to reverse course on claims that “President Trump lied about Biden’s stance on fracking.” YouTube had to remove an avalanche of “thumbs down” disapprovals from White House videos. Not bad for a couple of days.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of Biden’s short reign is that he has failed to unite his own party, let alone the nation. A bold agenda was expected, but one that bypassed Congress – effectively cutting career politicians out of the glory loop – was sure to raise hackles. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, fresh into his role as Senate Majority Leader and Speaker Nancy Pelosi looking to cap her lengthy career on a highnote, are likely feeling cheated. All the glory of a Democrat trifecta has been smothered by what could be described as an overly-ambitious first week.

Congressional Democrats staked their effectiveness on Joe Biden in a Quid Pro Quo both sides believed to be a happy understanding. But the new president is out to make a name for himself.

The Sting

Starting the impeachment trial will relieve the steam of the last few days. It will divert media attention and give President Biden a break from the pressure and provide Senate and House Democrats a chance to shine and get the publicity that is oxygen to politicians.

Now that President Trump is no longer in the White House, any sense of urgency that was demanded in the House during the impeachment vote is long gone. Latest reports suggest that five Republicans, at most, will vote to convict, and not all Democrats may be on board with the party line. This is a mission doomed to failure. So why continue?

Could it be that the Biden administration needs breathing space and congressional Dems need that sweet, sweet air of public focus?

A Dark Descent

All President Biden had to do to secure a positive legacy was be – in the eyes of his supporters – better than Donald Trump. But his sin was greed, placing him in Dante’s fourth level of hell, a circle in which those who squandered their assets are doomed to suffer. Without an impeachment trial, the newly-anointed president could well face the torment of the ninth circle. Dante describes a place reserved for the treacherous, and in the last of the four rounds, we find those who betrayed their benefactors; those who took what was offered in good faith and must suffer trapped in the cold icy dark.

The actors in this tragedy are out to make a name for themselves and ride high on the early waves of optimism. President Biden has stolen the wave from the party that dragged him into power and appears on the verge of making a mess of it. Without the impeachment distraction, the incoming mass of lawsuits from states, the expectant Fourth Estate, and even Biden’s supporters could well turn on their chosen leader. The question remains: What will they do once the impeachment is over and they don’t have Donald J. Trump to kick around anymore?


Read more from Mark Angelides.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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