I have to admit that I’ve gotten bored of impeachment already. As much as I was looking forward to the Senate trial, the reality is we’ve seen this all before during the House impeachment inquiry, which was only marginally more exciting, because Democrats thought they had a slam dunk, only to see Republicans dismantle the case against Trump during their cross-examinations of witnesses.
But, even during the House inquiry, the rhetoric was repetitive, and both sides of the aisle often repeated the same talking point over and over and over. Still, I watched or listened to quite a bit of them, sifting through the noise for newsworthy tidbits.
For all the rhetoric about how historic this is, the spectacle has fallen flat, and the only people who don’t seem to realize this are in Washington D.C.—and they happen to be the same people running the show. It’s the same thing with judicial confirmation hearings. For the most part, the outcomes aren’t going to change no matter what anyone says, but ambitious Senators looking ahead toward the next steps of their careers in politicians need to grandstand to increase their national profiles. Three Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar) ultimately launched presidential campaigns within months of the conclusion of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, after having used those hearings as their opportunity to introduce themselves to Democratic primary voters nationwide and prove their anti-Trump bona fides.
The Kavanaugh hearings were unique, however, given the rollercoaster ride it took us on, complete with bogus and decades-old allegations that were neither credible nor substantiated, and an outcome that truly rested on a small handful of senators.
But, everyone knows what the outcome of the impeachment trial will be, and that really takes the suspense out of the whole production—like the final 30 seconds of a football game where three or more touchdowns separate the scores of the two teams.
Democrats have put us through this to placate their base, and everyone knows this, whether they want to admit it or not. Worse yet, a majority of Americans say that their minds are set, and no exculpatory or inculpatory evidence presented in the Senate trial will sway them. This, of course, is bad news for Democrats. The debate over witnesses clearly isn’t enough to make people care. The House impeachment inquiry swayed nobody, despite Democrats putting their best foot forward. The longer this drags out, the more people will be wondering why Democrats made us go through this rather than carrying out the business of the American people.
On top of that, Americans have already started tuning out impeachment. According to New York magazine, “the six news networks covering Trump’s impeachment averaged a little over 11 million viewers combined” during the first two days of the trial, and then dropped “by about 20 percent on Wednesday, with a total of 8,858,000 million watching.” That’s a very weak showing compared to other significant televised political events. “In 2018, the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh drew an audience of 20.4 million on the six broadcast networks. In 2018, the midterms also pulled in a substantial 36.1 million, a greater audience than the four previous midterms.”
Even folks in the beltway are tuning out the trial. According to a local Fox affiliate in the D.C. area, 63 percent haven’t watched any of the trial. The poll isn’t scientific, but echos Nielsen data that shows daily soaps are twice as popular as the trial.
When the trial is over, each side will feel their position has been reinforced, but it won’t matter because we already know the outcome. This impeachment charade is only serving those who are taking part in it. They can grandstand all they want, use it for fundraising during a crucial election year, and the rest of us will be flipping the channel to anything but impeachment.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis