We have now slogged through one week of impeachment hearings. In my view, the production was a good cure for insomnia. If you managed to watch all of it, you get a gold star.
The Dems have called several witnesses and “surprise, surprise,” as the late entertainer, Jim Nabors, might have said, no “smoking gun,” no firsthand account of any impeachable offense. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised at this. After all, the Dems have led us down this road several times before in the last three years.
During that time, they have promised us “proof” of Mr. Trump’s impeachable activities on several occasions, and none of those has turned out to be true. I won’t bore you with repeating those accusations here. I have covered them, in detail, in previous blogs. Suffice to say, the anti-Trumpers’ credibility is extremely low.
Below please find my opinion of the first week:
1. The “great divide” between the pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps has widened. Both sides are “dug in.” Each is firmly convinced that it is right and the other side is wrong. Every word, every witness, every development is being twisted into two divergent interpretations. There are very few undecideds left, and most of them are not particularly interested in the impeachment process.
For example, Mr. Trump has fired Ukraine ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch. Some of the Dems on the committee focused on how “mean” that was, and they spent much of their time asking how she felt. Was she upset? How did it affect her family? It appeared they were hoping she would break down and cry to create a sound bite for the news. That entire line of questioning was a real time-waster.
The pro-Trumpers pointed out correctly that all executive branch employees serve at the pleasure of the president. He can fire/reassign anyone at any time for any reason. It doesn’t matter if they went to Harvard or Yale, or are decorated combat veterans, or have vast experience, or are nice, decent, loyal employees. Moreover, it is not unusual for a new boss to want his own people working for him, people whom he trusts, people who will support him and execute his policies. Many of us working in the private sector have experienced this when the boss who hired them is replaced. Since when is criticizing or firing someone an impeachable offense? Yovanovitch is supposed to be a tough, seasoned diplomat. Suck it up, and move on.
2. None of the witnesses was able to offer any firsthand account of Mr. Trump having committed an impeachable offense. For example, one of the Dems asked Yovanovitch if she had any knowledge that Mr. Trump accepted any bribes or committed any criminal acts? She responded, “no.” To me, that, right there, said it all.
3. Adam Schiff continues to orchestrate the hearings in a strongly partisan manner. For example, he has continually refused to disclose the identity of the whistleblower; now, he is denying he knows the identity at all. (One would think that as head of the (un)Intelligence Committee he would have vetted the man’s story himself rather than delegating it to staffers.) Furthermore, he has refused to allow the GOP representatives to call their own witnesses; and he has restricted their lines of questioning. For example, yesterday he refused to allow Rep. Elise Stefanik to question a witness. Whether or not this was within the Senate’s rules is besides the point. Ironically, even though Stefanik is a Republican, she has not been a strong, consistent Trump supporter. She has, however, been a critic of the impeachment process, and that has not sat well with Schiff. After the hearings concluded for the day, she told reporters that “nothing in that room today, and nothing in that room earlier this week, [has] rise[n] to the level of impeachable offenses.”
I believe Schiff’s actions constitute a tactical error on his part. He should be bending over backwards to be more accommodating so as to defuse any accusations of partisanship. You may remember that for many months Nancy Pelosi had insisted that the process should be nonpartisan.
4. Mr. Trump has continued to be unable to restrain himself. His tweet about Yovanovitch was unnecessary. Yes, he is entitled to exercise free speech, like anyone else, but it gave the Dems something to salvage the day. But, even if one thinks his behavior is boorish or obnoxious that is not reasonable grounds for impeachment.
5. It is curious how the anti-Trumpers cannot agree on the grounds of impeachment. They are continually trying to change the narrative. First, it was a “quid pro quo.” Then, when that didn’t resonate with the public, they switched to “intimidation.” Now, in the third iteration, the word of the day is “bribery.” Just turn on CNN, MSNBC, or any of the network channels. All the commentators are suddenly using the same word, “bribery.” Amazing how they stay in lockstep as if they all got the same directive. Hmm. According to Fox News they got that word based on a recommendation from a focus group. Obviously, they are trying to find a word that resonates with the public. What will it be tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine.
The longer this continues, the more I see it as a serious tactical error on the part of the Dems. “Buyer’s remorse,” anyone?
1. The American public is not buying what they’re selling. Many, if not most, people, are not even paying attention. They don’t see any impeachable offenses. They see it as what it is, a charade. They are busy with their own lives, their own day-to-day issues and problems.
2. The longer this goes on the more vulnerable to defeat the newly-elected 30 or so Dem Reps from districts that Mr. Trump carried in 2016 become. It will be interesting to see how many of them actually vote to impeach.
3. If the House votes to impeach and the Senate takes it up anti-Trumpers may see it as a victory. However, there is a problematic side. (1) It could be a long trial extending well into the primary season. (2) GOPers will be able to call their own witnesses and cross-examine whomever they want. (3) The Dem senators who are running for president will be required to attend the trial, rather than campaign in the field. (4) The economy remains strong, unemployment remains at historic lows, the stock market is setting new highs daily, and ISIS leader, Baghdadi, is dead.
Yes, it looks like the Dems may be hoisted on their own petard.