The breaking news that House Speaker-for-now Kevin McCarthy has capitulated to the GOP’s right-wing crazies in calling for an official Biden impeachment inquiry is not exactly news at all.

Everyone knows McCarthy is a weak speaker, willing to do whatever it takes to keep his phony baloney job, and that he was under extreme pressure to do, well, something.

And yet in his brief impeachment inquiry announcement, even though facing all that pressure, McCarthy could barely bring himself to try to justify the unjustifiable. Let’s just say the Broncos’ offense on Sunday was more forceful than McCarthy’s speech on Tuesday.

McCarthy offered no evidence for the inquiry other than the same tired allegations of a corrupt Biden Crime Family we’ve been hearing for months and, checking the calendar, actually years — two of them anyway. If you’ll remember, Marjorie Taylor Greene filed articles of impeachment just as Joe Biden was taking office. It’s worth noting that she had approximately the same amount of evidence then that McCarthy and team have now.

If you watched the announcement, you saw McCarthy taking exactly zero questions from the press, presumably because he knew he would be asked about the lack of evidence — so ably pointed out by none other than Colorado’s own Freedom Caucusing Ken Buck — and about why he hadn’t, as promised, brought any such inquiry to a vote before the full House.

Looking back to Nancy Pelosi and her decision to forestall a House vote on one of the Trump impeachment inquiries, McCarthy said two weeks ago that no one person should make the decision. 

And yet.

The answer in the first case is that the Boeberts and the Gaetzes and the Greenes and the Jordans and Comers and the rest aren’t really interested in evidence, but only in following the lead of Donald Trump’s social media instructions: “Either IMPEACH the BUM, or fade into OBLIVION. THEY DID IT TO US!” It’s all part of Trump’s campaign/retribution tour.

And in the second case? It’s just a simple math question. McCarthy didn’t have the votes. It may come as a surprise to some, but there are apparently enough semi-sane Republicans in the House who would join Democrats in voting down an inquiry. 

That has to be welcome news in the Biden camp, whose team took the opportunity to blast House Republicans anyway. At this point, Biden can probably assume that if Republicans couldn’t muster the votes to launch an inquiry, they’d have real trouble, working with their four-vote margin, getting to the point where they could actually summon the votes to impeach.

And here’s the funny part — yes, there’s a little dark humor here — no sooner did McCarthy make the announcement than Matt Gaetz took the House floor to tell McCarthy that the “path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance or remove you, pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair.”

And no sooner did Gaetz make his removal threat than Lauren Boebert, no friend to Joe Biden or Kevin McCarthy, retweeted Gaetz’s speech (or re-Xed it, or whatever you do these days).

The threat to McCarthy goes back to his humiliating 15-round vote to become speaker, at which point he made promises to anyone who might vote for him. One of the promises he made was that that any single member of the House could take the floor to demand a vote to remove him. Gaetz remembers that promise.

And, of course, the promise goes beyond an impeachment process. It’s hardly a coincidence that this phony inquiry comes at the same time we’re heading toward another potential government shutdown — the prospect of which is led, of course, by many of the same House crazies who are pro-impeachment.

There’s a strategy here, I guess, but it would seem to have little to do with actual governing. McCarthy must be hoping that, with this inquiry, he can persuade his caucus to go along with the agreement he made on a continuing resolution that would keep the government open past the end of this month.

What Gaetz was saying is that he needs more. That’s how it goes with blackmail. And, history suggests, it’s how it often goes with appeasement.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure how Ken Buck became the one House Republican who keeps calling out the blackmailers while making the case that there is no case against Joe Biden, but there it is. There are stories now that House members are getting more than a little miffed that Buck, with multiple appearances on CNN and even MSNBC, keeps reminding his colleagues of the actual truth of the matter. Buck is now the go-to GOP critic of GOP nonsense.

The other day when Greene said, in an apparent nod to her pal McCarthy, that there was no longer a rush to impeach, Buck had this to say: “Well, Marjorie filed articles of impeachment on President Biden before he was sworn into office … so the idea that she is now the expert on impeachment or that she is someone who should set the timing on impeachment is absurd.”

Buck, a conservative Freedom Caucus member of long standing, went on to say, “The time for impeachment is the time when there’s evidence linking President Biden — if there’s evidence — linking President Biden to a high crime or misdemeanor. That doesn’t exist right now.”

Buck is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which would likely hear impeachment proceedings if it ever came to that. In announcing the inquiry, McCarthy said three committees — Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means — would investigate. Of course, multiple committees have been investigating Hunter Biden and any other available Bidens for a while now. And the best they’ve been able to come up with so far is that Joe Biden made some small talk on the phone with questionable Hunter-sought investors.

No one is trying to defend Hunter Biden and a series of sleazy deals he made using the family name. But no one has offered any real evidence that Joe Biden in any way profited from any of Hunter’s schemes.

But apparently there doesn’t need to be evidence. Just ask the people running in the GOP primary against Trump. Even before the announcement, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott and Mike Pence had all previously supported an impeachment inquiry.

Of course, they support an inquiry, even as they know it has no chance of leading to a conviction in the Senate. Like McCarthy, they’re afraid not to support it.

We all know who’s in charge — the guy with the four indictments and the millions who support him in spite of them. Trump wanted an inquiry. So Gaetz and the rest wanted an inquiry. And now, as McCarthy once again speaks appeasement to power, they have one.



One more thing … If you haven’t heard, our first annual SunFest is coming to the Auraria campus Friday, Sept. 29. I don’t think there’s been anything quite like it in Denver before. Come for breakfast and lunch and to chow down all day on as much Colorado policy and politics as you can stand. And that’s just the beginning. There will be a wide array of topics featuring the people who make things happen in our state and city. Hick will be there. Polis and Bennet. Panel after panel. I’ll be there. Hope to see you, too. Get tickets here.

Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. Sign up for Mike’s newsletter.

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