Political Theater at the Highest Order



I watched the bulk of the impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee and came to a conclusion very quickly.  It was one sided and slanted towards favoring those that support impeachment.

The witness list was stacked with three law professors who have openly stated they believe the President should be impeached and one that stated that in his opinion the actions of the President, no matter how clumsy, did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

On the Democratic side we had Pamela Karlan, law professor at Stanford Law School, Noah Feldman from Harvard Law School and Michael Gerhardt from the University of North Carolina School of Law.  On the Republican side was Jonathan Turley, professor at The George Washington Law School.  All had previously made their positions known prior to the hearing and this produced exactly what one could expect.



Democrats read statements and asked their witnesses to agree with them.  Republicans read statement and asked their witness to agree with them.  On occasion someone would challenge on of the opposing witnesses, but this was usually just to get some non-response or to question their judgment.

It was political theater at its highest.  Nothing new was learned and nobody had their opinion changed.  Each witness tried their best to pretend that they had been neutral on the subject of impeaching President Trump but then had previous statements read back to them that belied that stance.  Professor Karlan went so far as to bring the young son of the President, Baron Trump, into the discussion by making the point of a joke.  She was quickly pilloried by social media and came back with a lame apology that was followed by another barb at the President clearly showing her animus towards him.

Here is why this hearing was nothing more than a show.  The deck was stacked, and everyone’s position was well known.  The Democrat witnesses were being asked questions that the Democrats could use to buttress their own efforts in writing the Articles of Impeachment.  This is backwards to the way the procedure should be done.  The Articles of Impeachment should have been drafted prior to the hearing and the questions should have centered on those Articles and were they valid.  The professors could then had been challenged to show why they felt they were valid under the Constitution.

Impeachment hearings should not be as political as this effort has become.  If you read the papers of Madison, you get the clear understanding that the offenses that would bring a President to impeachment would have to be so grave and clear that a bipartisan effort would be led to impeach the President.  The witness list should have been two appointed by Democrats and two by Republicans.  But Chairman Nadler, at the direction of Speaker Pelosi, made sure that the overwhelming amount of written statements would favor his political position and the bulk of the questions and answers would support his stance.

I am certain that once the Articles of Impeachment have been drafted the House will bring them to the floor and they will pass by a party line vote with a few Democrats voting no and several voting present.  These are members from swing districts where polling shows the impeachment a dicey proposition for those members.  But rest assured, Pelosi will not bring this to a floor vote without the assurance of having sufficient votes to pass the measure.  The question is on how close a vote it will be.  I don’t see any Republicans breaking ranks and supporting impeachment.

The issue will then move to the Senate where the trial will be held.  In this case the Republicans hold the majority and they will control the witnesses and how the trial will be held.  The standard for conviction in the Senate is 67 votes and I don’t know of a single political strategist that believes the Senate will vote to convict.  There are a couple of Senators on the Democrat side who are on the fence and may vote no on conviction and a couple of Republicans may vote to convict.  When this process moves forward, I predict you will hear a cacophony of noise from the left decrying how unfair the procedure in the Senate is being conducted.  They will lampoon the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for stacking the deck.  The media, to some extent, will join in this condemnation and demand that Senators be held accountable for not voting to convict.  It will be more political theater.

In the House hearing Jonathan Turley probably had the what I thought were the most salient points in his written testimony.

“If the House proceeds solely on the Ukrainian allegations, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding, with the thinnest evidentiary record, and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president”

He later adds the most poignant statement when he said:

“That does not bode well for future presidents who are working in a country often sharply and, at times, bitterly divided,”

Professor Turley understands and points out to us that we are a deeply divided nation when it comes to politics.  By impeaching a President on these narrow grounds we are endangering every future President and there will come a time when a Democrat will be in the White House and Republican will control the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate and the threat of impeachment will hinder the work of the President.  I don’t believe that was the intent of the Founding Fathers.  I have made my views on this subject very clear.  I don’t care for Donald Trump personally but also don’t think impeachment is the solution.  We have a Presidential election in 2020 and this procedure will carry over into the new year.  In the middle of the election campaign we will be discussing impeaching and removing the current President from office when the real solution can be found in November by allowing the American public to decide whether he should remain in office or not.

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