Alan Zendell, December 12, 2019
The House of Representatives’ attempt to impeach President Donald Trump and have him removed from office has gone from reality TV to surreal madness. Watching the two sides fight over every detail, like kids in a schoolyard, is simultaneously frightening and boring. If I can’t stand to watch any more, what does that say about the average American?
Watching House Judiciary Committee Chairman Gerald Nadler is like watching a robot read from Roberts’ Rules of Order. You can buy a copy for $0.99 on Google Play and save yourself the agony. Watching the scripted process of interruptions, points of order, and other delaying tactics led by Republican Ranking Member Doug Collins is above all, woefully depressing. I want to scream, “Grow up!” at my TV. After the hearings conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, what was the point of these Judiciary Committee hearings, and why, for God’s sake are the media giving them minute-by-minute coverage?
Some people are referring to the whole disgusting process as sausage making. Not a single word spoken by either side in the Judiciary Committee hearings told us anything we didn’t already know. I find the spectacle of the House displaying its dirtiest laundry for the world to see horrifying. Is this what our Constitution and our alleged democracy have degenerated to? The distressing process of debating and voting on articles of impeachment could have been done in private in a couple of hours if there were no TV audience to play to.
We’re going to be in for more of the same when the gavel is turned over to Mitch McConnell for the Senate trial. McConnell announced yesterday that there are two options, get a simple majority of Senators to vote to refuse to try the president, or hold a truncated trial consisting of a formal reading of the charges followed immediately by a vote to convict which will surely fail. So after all this pain, Trump will either get to claim vindication and exoneration, or the whole thing will come crashing down like the proverbial lead balloon. And that’s beyond sad.
The question of whether our president acted to further his own interests at the cost of degrading both our national security and the sanctity of our elections has become moot. By turning the conversation into a debate about whether Trump’s actions are impeachable, the House has forever obscured the real significance of his actions. The process in the House is pure hypocrisy. The question is what sort of precedent that sets for future administrations.
The Republicans are correct when they argue that impeachment was a foregone conclusion before there was any presentation of factual evidence. Many of the freshman Democrats in the House were elected based on a campaign promise to impeach the president. From the beginning of this term, Speaker Pelosi was engaged in a holding action to prevent a premature rush to judgment. Have we learned nothing? What are we to conclude from this mess except that our Congress is even more dysfunctional that we feared?
Donald J. Trump, who has done more as president to worsen America’s standing in the world and degrade the institutions on which our country was founded than any of is predecessors, will walk away claiming victory. His base will raucously cheer that he defeated the deep state, and intellectually lazy, misinformed Americans will continue to believe everything they read on Facebook. Could this have ended any worse?
I’ve had a surreal feeling about it all because it seemed so familiar. I didn’t realize why I felt that way until I heard Mitch McConnell speak yesterday, and I realized it was like listening to the foreman of an all white jury discussing the pre-ordained fate of a black defendant in mid-twentieth century Alabama or Mississippi. Where is Atticus Finch when we need him?
Don’t hold your breath. Donald Trump’s version of reality TV is nothing like the movies in which unlikely, unexpected heroes emerge to save us from ourselves. I never understood the meaning of the title, “To Kill a Mockingbird” until I looked it up. The mockingbird was a symbol for innocence. Thus, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy innocence. In turning a blind eye to Trump’s guilt, by not considering for a moment whether he’s fit to lead our country, his supporters in the House and Senate are destroying whatever remains of our naïve innocence as Americans.