Impeaching President Donald Trump a week before his term ends is a terrible idea. Right now, it appears to be the only game in town. But it's still a bad idea.
A small handful of Republican senators, including Ben Sasse of Nebraska, are saying they'd consider it. The votes just aren't there. And as impeachment No. 1 manager Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, predicted in his closing remarks, if Trump isn't convicted, he'll be emboldened in his reckless assaults on democratic and republican (small "d" and "r") principles and practices. In short, the guardrails supporting our institutions and traditions will be weakened yet again.
There's only one benefit to a possible impeachment: If convicted, Trump could be barred from any future federal office and some lifetime perks.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is running a stick and carrot game, but it isn't working: dangling the club of an ugly impeachment fight to persuade Vice President Mike Pence and what's left of the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. It's by far the best solution, but so far Pence isn't willing to go there.
Reports have it that Trump is acting "ballistic" in the White House, surrounding himself with conspiracy theorists and raging against all who have deserted him, from Pence to Mitch McConnell to golf buddy Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, all of whom appear to have tapped in to their "country before party" impulses on Jan. 6.
Even "Fox and Friends" host Brian Kilmeade went off Thursday on Trump's inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol building. With his history of paranoia and narcissism, and his becoming increasingly bereft of sycophants, it's hard to imagine what mischief Trump is capable of in the next few days.
Actually, another impeachment might unleash even more dangerous impulses, and now there are, in effect, no guardrails left. Equally concerning are the ways in which the insurrectionists who participated in and backed the Capitol invasion will respond. A second impeachment is a bad idea, with no chance of succeeding, no possible benefits without conviction, and no path toward limiting the damage this wounded narcissist--and his followers--might do.
David Dougherty retired as a professor of English for Loyola University Maryland.