MINOT, N.D. — According to Heidi Heitkamp, now that Democrats have impeached President Donald Trump, what they really need to do is spend a lot of money on explaining what they just did to the American people.
The erstwhile senator has somehow fashioned for herself a post-Senate career playing an expert on the fly-over-country voters on television. Of course, if she were really any sort of an expert, she might still be serving in the Senate.
"The Democrats need to not just do town halls, they need to do a clear, concise message on why they’re taking this vote, and there needs to be money behind that message," Heitkamp said during a segment on ABC News.
This is comical, though as is often the case with Heitkamp's blundering punditry, it's unintentionally revealing.
For months, in front of intense media coverage, proceedings have taken place in the House of Representatives where the Democratic majority has called the shots. They controlled the witnesses and testimony and evidence.
If they haven't made their point to voters yet — they haven't, if anything Trump's polling has improved in recent weeks — they're in trouble.
It's reminiscent of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in charge of a previous Democratic House majority, telling the American people that Congress would have to pass Obamacare for us all to find out what's in it.
And we all know what happened to that Democratic majority in 2010.
Like Obamacare, not a single Republican voted for impeachment.
In fact, despite Pelosi arguing that was a prerequisite, the only bipartisanship was in opposition. Two Democrats voted against the charge that Trump invited Ukranian interference in domestic politics. Three voted against the charge that he obstructed Congress. A fourth Democrat, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, cast a "present" vote on each charge in protest of what she decried as a "partisan" proceeding.
A proceeding, remember, which was controlled by Democrats.
Also like Obamacare, the articles of impeachment don't match up with the rhetoric about them.
Democrats have deployed talking points like "nobody is above the law." They've accused President Trump of misdeeds like bribery.
These points might have been helped if Democrats had actually impeached Trump for breaking a law.
What they actually impeached him for was pressuring a foreign leader to investigate a political rival and obstructing Congress.
Yet the foreign leader says he wasn't pressured, which means the first charge was a bit like indicting someone for murder while the alleged victim watches from the gallery, and if a president squabbling with Congress is an impeachable offense, then I guess we should have impeached every single president from George Washington forward.
Had Democrats made these issues a part of their campaigns in 2020 they would have been on solid ground. They could have even justified passing an official censure of Trump.
Impeachment was always about placating a rabidly left-wing base which has been howling for impeachment since inauguration day.
Three weeks into Trump's term in office — three weeks! — about 83% of people who voted for Hillary Clinton said they believed Trump needed to be impeached.
Democrats have finally delivered, but at what cost?
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.