Allow me to present the most "centrist" possible take on the impeachment of Donald Trump. The most studiously amoral, the one that treats bothsides-ism not merely as political dalliance, but as gymnastic artistry. The mewling that will dominate all centrist discourse for the foreseeable future, if the editors of all the major outlets have a thing to say about it.
Politico and the president of Duquesne University present for your consideration: Impeachment is divisive. How 'bout we just not do that?
The central premise, and I am shorthanding it only a bit, is that in this highly charged political environment that threatens to divide us and require politicians to stand up for things, there is a reasonable compromise available. We could all agree to not impeach Donald Trump for holding back this nation's military and diplomatic support from a nation, an act that violated the law, as a means of pressuring a foreign government to invent a new investigation of a domestic political enemy. Instead, the House and Senate should pass a new law clarifying that a president using the tools of his government to extract things of value to him, personally, one of the few actions specifically called out and barred by the United States Constitution itself, is Actually Illegal. From here on in.
Not this time around, though. Because it was confusing the first time around, and because Republicans don't want to. So Donald Trump will for now be allowed to extort things of personal value from foreign allies in exchange for official acts of government, but the next president would know for certain that no, that is extra-super not allowed and that we would put the president in jail for doing it.
And if that future president did violate that new law and the Constitution both, again telling Congress to sod off and ordering all members of his administration to defy congressional oversight efforts because see-above sodding off, well the next time around it would be far clearer that the president super-duper broke the law "per se" and "it would be nearly impossible for [brazenly corrupt stain-on-the-nation Republican senators] to defend the president without triggering a public revolt."
You know, because now the prohibition on using a government position to solicit things of personal, private value, aka soliciting a bribe, has been spelled out even more. What future leader, with the assistance of what future senators, would be able to get away with something as brazen as that? The second time, I mean. The first time, we're going to let it slide.
We are not going to debate the merits of this idea. Instead, this Most Centrist American Take needs to be properly immortalized. We need to found a new museum dedicated only and entirely to this take. Here are a list of phrases that are used unironically in it. There is, I emphasize, no apparent sarcasm involved:
• Impeachment will be "time-consuming, bruising, wrenching and divisive, causing the country to become dangerously distracted."
• A no-impeachment quid for a new-law quo "would give each side a partial victory."
• "Few senators of either party want to be mired in this lose-lose situation. It is far better to gain something beneficial for the country and move on."
Let me interrupt to say that this is not parody. All of this is being written with apparent earnestness.
• "Presidents moving forward would be on notice that manipulating or consorting with foreign governments to extract personal political gain is unlawful."
• "Individuals surrounding the president" who assisted in future attempts to do exactly what Trump and his associates would for now get away with "would be on notice." Yeah, take that future equally-corrupt officials.
• Ending impeachment in exchange for a new bill barring foreign extortion would mean that "members of both parties can feel they rose above the ugly partisanship that has consumed our nation."
• Both parties will have "figured out how to get a half loaf" while "keeping government intact."
And that—that right there, is the ultimate centrist take. Our two sides cannot agree on whether an identified act of extortion for personal gain (criminal in all other contexts but this one) is bad; an exact midpoint position would therefore be to declare that it obviously is bad, but that the potential for "divisiveness" requires we do nothing of consequence about it.
For example: Torture is against national and international law. We have previously specified what constitutes torture, in sufficient detail to prosecute those that have engaged in it. But if our leaders decide to torture anyway, it shall be deemed Divisive and those that have engaged in it must face no legal consequences lest the nation become disallusioned.
For example: Using fraudulent intelligence in order to lie a free people into an ideologically desired war is bad, but the far worse crime against civility would be for those that lied to face general public scorn, much less career damage, for doing so.
For example: The most senior official in our nation's government may have robbed a bank at gunpoint, but the spectacle of public trial would dangerously "distract" our officials from their duties. Let us all agree that the president is allowed to keep the money, but pencil in "robbed a bank" and "gunpoint" as explicitly against the rules from here on out.
And thus the problem is solved forever, with no consequences or adverse implications that may come back to do immense damage later on, with the likely involvement of the same advisers and officials that got away with it from the Nixon era to today. Now we can, to precisely quote from the essay that brought us here, "move on."