This isn’t a hard choice

TRAVERSE CITY — I would hate to be in line at McDonald’s behind a Congressional Democrat.

“I’ll have the Big Mac … no, wait. There’s a lot of fat in that. Then again, you only live once, right, ha ha! But really I shouldn’t. Maybe I should get some Chicken McNuggets instead. I wonder if the chickens are free-range? I’ll bet they’re not. Maybe I shouldn’t get that either. Hey, I know! A salad! Fresh. Healthy. Low-cal. Perfect! Then again, there are a lot of lettuce recalls these days …”

I have seldom seen souls as tortured as the Democrats on Capitol Hill trying to decide whether to impeach Trump.

One side says, “He clearly obstructed justice, he deserves to be impeached!”

The Nancy Pelosi crowd says, “But, gosh, even if we impeach him (remember, that’s what impeach means), the Senate won’t convict him, so why bother?”

Then there’s the huge wishy-washy swath in the middle that wants to hold impeachment hearings so they can pretend to be bold decisive before ultimately deciding not to vote on impeachment at all.

I wish I could get the entire party in a room and scream, “Enough already. This is why you lost the White House in the first place. For once in your politically correct lives, show some backbone and do what’s right instead of what’s expedient.”

That’s the thing here: This isn’t a hard choice. Robert Mueller’s report was a giant neon arrow pointing to 10 reasons that Trump should be impeached, including:

– Trump asking James Comey to “let Michael Flynn go.”

– Trump asking intelligence chiefs to publicly declare that he wasn’t the target of an investigation.

– Trump firing Comey.

– Trump’s efforts to oust Mueller.

– Trump’s efforts to curtail the Russia investigation.

– Trump’s efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence.

– Trump’s ongoing efforts to have the Attorney General control the investigation.

– Trump telling Don McGahn to deny that Trump wanted Mueller removed.

– Trump asking for a heads up on what Flynn was telling investigators and publicly commending Manafort for not “flipping.”

– Trump’s lawyer coaching Michael Cohen to “stay on message” when he testified to Congress.

Alone, anything on that list would be reason enough to impeach a president. Taken together, they constitute an open and shut case of obstruction. And yet Democrats continue to dither because dithering is what they do best.

“Well, gosh,” some of them say, “we don’t want to energize his base. If we do that, gee willikers, they might vote for him again.”

Good lord, people. They’re going to vote for him no matter what. The truest thing Trump ever said was that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not turn off his voters.

But that doesn’t mean he’ll win. His base is a small one. And 2020 isn’t likely to be like 2016. This time, Democrats and independents have seen first-hand what happens when you protest vote or don’t show up at all.

Yes, Democrats got a bounce at the ballot box after Clinton was impeached by the GOP-controlled House. But that doesn’t mean Trump will. Democrats got that bounce because voters apparently felt lying to Congress about an affair wasn’t exactly bring-down-the-Republic stuff.

That’s not the case here. A president obstructing justice is serious, precedent-setting stuff. Democrats have an obligation under the Constitution to act.

But will they? Or will they continue to waffle or, worse, make a decision based on what benefits them politically vs. what’s right for the country?

My guess is they’ll talk big before ultimately picking the salad, meaning they’ll do nothing.

And, of course, they’ll take a long, long time to do it.

— — —

Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.