Putting some distance from our ourselves and today's U.S. Senate, let's take a deep, relaxing breath and enjoy a bit of Broadway instead. Indeed, not just a Tony-winning musical, but also only the fourth musical ever (at the time) to win a Pulitzer Prize. The first musical I ever saw actually on Broadway.
Here's the opening number from 1776, with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards, with William Daniels in the lead as John Adams. To put it in context, "Sit Down, John," is a funny, pointed song about the Continental Congress refusing to debate an incredibly important issue -- in this case, the matter of breaking away from a king by declaring independence.
And so the questions are over, and it's time America begins to focus on the critical question of whether four Republican senators will vote that they want to hear additional witnesses and see any documentation evidence in the impeachment trial of Trump.
By now, you've likely seen that Susan Collins (R-ME) has said that she does want to hear witnesses, and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has said he doesn't -- despite acknowledging that the House Managers proved their case that Trump did what they said he did. So, the question narrows as to whether three more Republican senators will aso vote "Yes" for witness to get to that magic number of four.
Will four Republican senators vote to hear witnesses? If so, which four will be the ones who say "Yes" so that four Republicans will join the 47 Democratic senators who are expected to vote "Yes"? That's the question -- will there be four Republican who vote that there should be witness and evidence presented at the trial.? Just four, that's all that's needed.
It's an important question. It's a critical question. It is also, I believe, the wrong question.
For all the overwhelming attention on the question, something far more important in the much bigger picture is not being asked. And that question is not "What four Republicans will vote to hear witness?", but rather -- why are there only four Republicans to focus on and see if they will vote to hear witnesses and see evidence in the impeachment trial of Trump?????!!
Four? Seriously? There should be 53 Republicans who want to hear witnesses and see evidence in an impeachment trial of the president of the United States. There have only been three impeachment trials in U.S. history -- and in the other two, there were witnesses and evidence. Of course. In the one other impeachment inquiry, where Articles of Impeachment were voted but then Richard Nixon resigned, there were witness there, as well. So, paying all our attention on "four" seems an understandable, but incorrect action.
That Republicans don't even want to hear John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor, who is one of the most staunch conservative Republicans in the country, who was in the room with Trump, who said he has evidence on what Trump said, who has made clear he wants to testify if subpoenaed. We're not talking about the "will they get four" here. We're talking about the other 49.
That's the number that matters most, in the longer view. After all, it's near-certain that Trump is not going to be convicted in the Senate. And it's near-certain that John Bolton will be presented his evidence on talk shows as he goes on a book tour. And history shows that it's near-certain that most of the evidence being blocked now by Republicans will eventually get out. But in the longer run, what the 53 Republicans are doing, to keep there from being witnesses and evidence in an impeachment trail is the historical action that matters.
And it matters further because 75% of Americans say that they want to hear witness!! As a commentator noted last Tuesday, "You'd have a hard time getting 75% of Americans to agree that today is Tuesday."
For the past two years or so I've been wring that this is not about Trump, we know who he is. Rather, this is about the elected members of the Republican Party who enable him and are complicit. Well...this is what I'me talking about, the entirety of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives who voted not to impeach Trump, and the near-entirety of the Republican Party in the Senate who voted not to even hear witnesses and evidence in the trial. That's what matters. That's the question to ask and focus on. Why are they struggling to find only a paltry four to vote to hear witnesses and evidence??? Why note 53???? Why not at least just 30? !!
In the end, I think this reality is going to hurt the Republican Party badly in the general election in November. Even if it turns out that they got "four" Republicans to vote for witness. Because "four" is pathetic. And it's been clear how pathetic the Republican Party is to cover-up Trump's impeached actions.
Because this is not about Trump, we know who he is. This is about the elected members of the Republican Party who enable him and are complicit.
Sorry, I should have posted this the other day when the Oscar nominations were announced. In my defense, I didn't read the list of nominations for about a week after that. And when I did, I just sort of scrolled through, so it didn't pop out. But having had it finally click in, here is Charlize Theron -- Oscar-nominated for Best Actress in Bombshell -- as the guest on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.
There is one question I wish at least one senator would have asked during the Trump trial yesterday. I know it wouldn't have been -- not for what the question was asking, but because it's not how questions could be asked. But I still wish someone would have asked, and if there were complaints about it would have replied, "Hey, this is what I want to know. And I'm a senator, I have the right to ask it."
The question would have been --
"Do any of the Trump lawyers who is not Alan Dershowitz agree with Professor Dershowitz's interpretation of what is impeachable, and if so, can you please explain why you think that is so?"
The question occurred to me before today's Q&A session when Mr. Dershowitz made his mind-numbing reply that pretty much said a president can do anything he wants as long as he thinks it will help him win and him winning is in the public interest. It rose to Question #1 after hearing Dershowitz.
By the way, I think senators should feel comfortable asking the question because I heard Ari Melber discussing the Dershowitz Contention that abuse of power was not impeachable earlier yesterday morning with another Trump lawyer, Robert Ray -- who didn't fully agree with his fellow co-counsel.
That said, knowing that the question might not be permissible under Senate rules, I have a backup question for the senator to ask instead. It would be one than even Alan Dershowitz would be allowed to answer --
"Professor Dershowitz contended that if a president believed any of his actions would help him win an election that those actions would therefore be in the public interest, since his winning was in the public interest. Does this hold for whoever his opponent was, if that opponent -- whatever their party affiliation, no matter how small the party -- similarly believed his or her winning was in the public interest? Or is this right to do pretty much anything to win only available to a sitting president, since only a sitting president can be impeached? If only for the sitting president, though, doesn't that give the president a huge advantage in the campaign and make the election profoundly unfair at its foundation? And if the right is allowed to even a candidate running for president --any candidate -- would that right be applicable to any candidate running for any office, who believed that their winning the race was in the public interest? If not, why not? Why would it only pertain to people running in the general election for U.S. President?"
And if that question is too long, I offer a third option.
"Professor Dershowitz, are you willing to take a drug test?"
It's been a while since we went Out and About with Jiminy Glick, so it's time to rectify that. Here he is with Ellen DeGeneres, sort of mid-career in 2003-- she'd done her first sitcom and just started her second, so it's right before her talk show began.. What's notable too is that more than most guests, she clearly has a hard time to keep from laughing.
I'm beginning to understand the Republican base better. After listening to three days of Trump's lawyers talking, I feel like I got more stupid with each passing word until they finally ended. I now have an idea what it must be like listening to "Fox News" and Breitbart and Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Michael Savage all the time.
It was quite a remarkable thing. I sort of expect lying from these above and from Trump with his 16,241 lies documented by the Washington Post. And I expected Trump's lawyer to deflect attention and spin stories, but -- as lawyers in a trial setting in front of the freaking Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, I really, truly honestly didn't expect them to actually lie. And worse, to knowingly push literal Russian propaganda.
And of course they know it's a lie to say that Ukraine may have hacked the 2016 election, because they're not Trump, and because Putin didn't tell them, and because they're not total idiots, and because they know every U.S. intelligence agency says that Ukraine didn't. Yet push that Russian-driven misinformation like Russian dupes -- or "useful idiots" as the Russian term goes -- they did.
And repeating what can only be describes as lies that had been contradicted under oath during the House impeachment hearing, and which news story reported very clearly -- like the evidence that Ukraine knew long before Trump's phone call that U.S. aid was being withheld. And that Republicans didn't have access to the "secret" impeachment depositions. (They did, they got to ask as many questions as Democrats did, and the transcripts of it all were released.) And that Trump wasn't given an opportunity to have his lawyers cross-examine witnesses in the House impeachment hearings. (He was, but turned it down.) And that Adam Schiff intentionally misquoted Trump in the House impeachment hearings. (He didn't, he made very clear that he was paraphrasing Trump for dramatic effect.) And more. Much more.
And again, to be clear, this isn't lying to the press or the American public (which is Not a Good Thing, even though life under Trump tries to normalize it). This is lawyers lying during a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
But beyond the lies and Russian propaganda, it was three days of mischaracterizations, distractions, deflections, subverting and mind-numbing journeys into charges so deeply off-topic (like suggesting that former President Barack Obama should be the one on trial, for some unexplained, albeit bizarre reason) and convoluted legal theories so twisted that even they themselves noted that most legal scholars don't agree.
On and on and on and on they went, defending Rudy Giuliani for a quarter of an hour, rising in angst again Hunter Biden who -- it must be stated, since Republicans opted not to -- is not an elected official, is not a government worker, and is not involved with politics in any way other than birth, but is just a private citizen, yet apparently aggrieved Trump so much that it caused him to try to get a foreign nation involved in investigating him, though clearly not aggrieved enough for Trump or any Republican elected official to ever once ask the U.S. Justice Department or any GOP-led Senate committee to investigate him or even raise a single concern, until his father announced his candidacy to run against Trump.
On and on and on it all went, as you could feel the effort doing its best to make you feel as stupid as possible. Thank heavens that God created the mute button, and that the Senate had to take periodic breaks, and that it would always adjourn and come to an end each day, rather than have the Senate equivalent of All Night Radio. And thankfully too I actually followed the news before the trial, so I was able to say, "Hmm, wait, no, that isn't true" and keep a solid, grounded foundation through it all.
To be clear, I am certain Republicans were bothered by the 21 hours of Democratic House Manager opening statements. But that reaction was generally based on disagreeing with it, insisting there wasn't enough evidence to prove the case, believing that the charges weren't impeachable. It was not because Democrats were lying, were delivering Russian propaganda, were going off on empty tangents that had nothing to do with the Articles of Impeachment, and weren't presenting facts germane to the case. Two totally different matters. One -- we don't agree with you. The other -- see if you can come through this hell hole of head-banging digressions, misdirections, obfuscations and lies with your view of reality intact.
But I came through it, fortunately. Yes, there's more to go, but the speeches are over. And I survived. And came away with a deeper understanding of why so much of the Republican base is the way it is. If this is what you listen to throughout the day, every day, day after day for weeks and years, it explains the results of the 2012 study by Farleigh Dickinson University that showed people who watch Fox News knew less about current events than people who don't watch any TV news at all.
It explains the results. What it does not do is excuse them.
Let's check in and head back down to New Zealand for another of those oddball and absolutely wonderful in-flight safety videos for Air New Zealand. This one is called "Safety Old School Style" and stars Betty White, along with some guests.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor