Michigan Congressman Justin Amash has issued a series of tweets stating that President Trump is impeachable, and that Attorney General William Barr has misled the Congress sufficiently to warrant a contempt citation. He falls a wee be short of actually calling on Congress to impeach the President or to vote to contempt the Attorney General. It may be a distinction without a difference, but it is notable distinction – and most of the press noted the difference.
Amash’s tweets give him high news value – at least for 15 minutes — because he is the first Republican to take up the Democrat talking points against Trump and Barr.
There are, however, three facts that degrade his credibility. First, he is a libertarian. For those who follow the Libertarian Party, that should be “enough said,” but most Americans do not. There is a distinction between libertarian views (which I lean to) and the Libertarian Party, which is a bit of a joke.
Amash is a person who sees his political opportunity as being best realized through the Republican Party – a bit like socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders uses the Democratic Party to further his ambitions. In truth, Sanders should be running for the Socialist Party nomination and Amash should have sought his House seat as a member of the Libertarian Party. Of course, neither of them would have been successful.
The second reason to respond to Amash’s tweets with healthy skepticism is that he has presidential ambitions. Yes, he wants to bolt the Republican Party in an effort to secure the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party. That is a position that appeals to those who want to express ideas without the threat of ever having to implement them. It is a good move for Amash since his chance of returning to Congress as a Republican has greatly diminished.
The third thing to understand is that Amash has been an outspoken critic of Trump from the get-go. His unrelenting bashing of the President has gone largely unnoticed beyond his colleagues in the House because he is back-bencher with little influence.
These current tweets have gotten him the first real attention he has craved since arriving in Congress in 2011. But, that’s about as far as it will go. His is an outlier’s story that will not influence much in terms of the larger picture. He is not the leader of a succession of Republican legislators breaking with the President.
Amash may make himself a big player in the Libertarian Party, but they do not play a major role in the center stage of American politics. In 2016, two guys who had been governors of major states – Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Bill Weld of Massachusetts were the Libertarian candidates for President and Vice President. Even with their backgrounds, they could not elevate the Libertarian Party above the “who cares” level.
Amash was the big political story-of-the-day because he pandered to the left-wing media’s strategic efforts to get Republicans to abandon Trump. That has been a mainstay of their coverage since Election Day 2016. It may get him enough attention to gain the Libertarian presidential nomination for 2020, but that is a very small prize, indeed.
So, there ‘tis.