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?"
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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