Alexandra Petri: We’re having fun, right? Do we really need to label this ‘impeachment’?

(J. Scott Applewhite | AP Photo) House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., prepares for a tv news interview at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, July 26, 2019. Nadler says his panel also will go to court next week to try to enforce a subpoena against former White House counsel Donald McGahn, a key Mueller witness.

“Impeachment isn’t a binary thing that you either are or you aren’t. What we’ve been saying and what we’ve been doing is starting a process where we’re engaging in an investigation to see if we should recommend articles of impeachment.”

— Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., on July 26, 2019, regarding President Trump

Is this an impeachment proceeding?

I mean. Call it a — mmm, do we need to define what this is, at such an early stage?

We're having fun, aren't we? You and I, and our subpoena power? This time together, is it really more valuable if it's Definitely Heading Toward Impeachment than if it's just something we're doing for us, right now, without worrying about where it goes? Can't we just savor what we have now and not rush to squeeze it into some sort of box? Can't this just be meaningful, you and I and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., asking questions and sometimes getting answers and sometimes not getting answers, but still learning, still growing! Can't this be enough?

After all, I did hear that Jerry secretly told some intimates (who subsequently told The New York Times about it, so you know he's serious) that he could see this heading toward impeachment. That is how seriously he's taking it! Just because he is too shy to say so in so many words does not mean he hasn't thought about it.

Why, just Friday he and several other members said, publicly, that this might be the start of something that could ultimately wind up on the road to an inquiry that could lead to proceedings for an impeachment! So — I think we're on the same page, right? I don't know why you'd push for an upfront commitment bigger than that.

Meanwhile, we had that Mueller testimony. See, that gave me pause. I expect — you know, I don't want to say "I expect fireworks" from my testimony, because I know how unrealistic that is, and I know that impeachment even in an ideal world is just as much about dull things like if the president obstructed justice as it is about that simple, ineffable feeling between a country and its president. That sounds so crude and selfish and idiotic when it comes to something like determining fitness for office, but — I guess I must be old-fashioned. I wanted a feeling the hearing did not quite give me, a feeling like we had with Nixon, and, I guess, must also have had with Clinton?

(To be honest, I always forget that the Clinton thing happened when I talk about how sacred and serious a commitment this is.)

Besides, impeachment? What an outdated system, maybe not even suited to our desires now, more like something our parents, or Newt Gingrich, would want. Why not use an election to remove him from office instead, if that is what we really want? That takes the pressure off us, so we can just enjoy our time together, watching administration officials fail to testify, or testify incompletely.

I want you to know I'm serious, though. I do think the president obstructed justice, and I am willing to do anything almost-but-not-quite-impeachment-like to show it. Besides, I am not sure Nancy Pelosi entirely approves! How about we call this an impeachment but know it isn't? Just when we're alone, maybe?

Or "impeachish"? "Impeachmeh"?

I mean, just, can you imagine walking around every day telling people we are really starting impeachment proceedings? Telling people who didn't want it to happen? I'd just have to be really sure, is all. And, yeah, I could be ready for it, but — can't we focus on infrastructure?

Is that cool? Great. I will tell people that we are continuing investigation of the president's malfeasances and we will consider what we have to consider including — well, you know. I knew you would get it. You're not needy, like some other parties I could name.

Alexandra Petri | The Washington Post

Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter, @petridishes.