Impeachment is over and done with. It was a perfect political storm for the White House.
As the effort to try and convict former President Donald Trump ramped up, many expressed concerns that the move would derail President Joe Biden’s agenda. Just days after the Jan. 6 riots, Democratic Representative James Clyburn floated an idea to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate until after Biden’s first 100 days.
“I do have concerns,” Clyburn said on CNN when asked about the impact of impeachment on Biden’s agenda. “Let's give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we will send the articles some time after that.”
While many disagreed with Clyburn’s suggestion, concerns over the impact of a trial in the Senate just as Biden is attempting to jumpstart his presidency were rampant.
“For Biden and the Democrats the proceedings this week presented a strategic challenge,” journalist Peter Nicholas wrote in The Atlantic. “A long and complicated trial would risk derailing Biden’s stimulus package, slowing down his Cabinet confirmations, and distracting from his efforts to combat the pandemic.”
Perhaps that is true.
Even though the trial in the Senate was brief — despite a last-minute showdown over calling witnesses — Biden’s cabinet has suffered. Only seven of Biden’s 23 Cabinet-level nominees have been confirmed, a pace slightly slower than Trump and far slower than Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Rhode Island’s Gina Raimondo is among those who has yet to be confirmed.
Likewise, stimulus has yet to be realized, although Biden is “racing to approve” his $1.9 trillion package.
But despite overwhelming concerns over impeachment damaging the White House, in the end, it has been a political slam dunk.
Let’s call it what it is: A distraction.
Conviction, in a partisan and divided Senate, was never going to happen. While Trump had to be held accountable for his actions on Jan. 6 and should have been convicted, it never had a chance of succeeding.
But that distraction was exactly what the Biden administration needed. At a time in the presidency when all eyes would normally be on the leader of the free world, all eyes were on the Senate and impeachment. That gave Biden room to fulfill — or renege — controversial policies without making headlines.
Take, for example, the first day of Biden’s presidency. He signed 17 executive orders, which made the United States rejoin the Paris climate accords, revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and strengthen legal protections for Dreamers, among other actions.
In a normal political environment, this would be a hellstorm. Conservatives would be in an uproar over actions that hurt the energy industry and focus more on global concerns than that of Americans at home. But all focus was on impeachment and Biden got away without a scuff.
On the other side of things, there are liberals who say Biden is not going far enough — or will not be successful on such platforms like the stimulus package. Now, instead of having to face the music on its own failure, the administration has something to blame.
While there is little doubt impeachment has hurt the productivity of the government and the efficiency of Biden’s agenda, it has eased the political pressure by creating a
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