Madam, I'm Adam
About 15 years ago, I started to notice a Republican tactic -- throwing at Democrats the worst charges about themselves, and I began writing about it in my Huffington Post columns. Trying to smear Democrats with the worst things that Republicans had done, not just to hopefully hurt the Democrats but also make it more difficult from Democrats to use the actual charges against the Republicans themselves. At first I thought it was just a random occurrence, and then I realized it was happening so regularly that it was clearly an accepted tactic. And it's continued for the past decade-and-a-half. Still up to yesterday.
Yesterday, when Republicans tried to smear House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and call for his resignation for some bizarre made-up, meaningless reasons -- made all the more bizarre (though understandable given the aforementioned Standard Republican Tactic) considering his predecessor Republican Devin Nunes literally had to recuse himself as chairman for basically being outed as Trump's bag man and passing secrets to the White House. Only to later "un-recuse" himself, which is largely an unprecedented action.
My first reaction was how stupid, offensive and pathetic the Republican efforts were. Then I heard some discussion of it on MSNBC, and realized it was really something deeper than just the norm. This wasn't about getting Adam Schiff to resign his chairmanship of the House Intel Committee. Republicans know they have zero way they can get him to do that. Democrats are in the majority. Further, they also know that even if he resigned the chairmanship, another Democrat would be named chairman, and they'd remain in the majority -- with Schiff even still on the committee. No, this was about something else entirely. That had the fingerprints of Trump all over it and therefore likely likely something set in motion by him because it's what Trump always tries to do -- discredit areas of authority that can provide a check on him. (Like the media, FBI or judges.) Which is quite literally a fascist tactic. Discredit the House Intelligence Committee with Adam Schiff as its chairman so that any findings they come up with will in turn be discredited. And as I saw Republican after Republican after Republican after Republican -- after Republican -- repeat the Great Republican Echo Chamber Mantra, "We call on Adam Schiff to resign because we no longer have any trust in him -- it became clear that this indeed was what it was. Unfortunately for Trump and the enabling Republicans in Congress, they didn't count on one thing.
They didn't count on Adam Schiff.
They probably assumed that Mr. Schiff would react as they generally see him -- low-key, soft-spoken, eloquent, someone who goes out of his way to not make headlines. What they overlooked was that this nature was part of a profound decency, a deep belief in fairness, and an innate sense of responsibility for his position as chairman of the Intelligence Committee whose mission is to protect the United States against foreign enemies.
And so, for all those who thought Adam Schiff is just soft-spoken and middle-of-the-road, this brilliant, quiet, blistering, 5-minute response to foolish, but potentially dangerous Republican "demands" that he step down from his chairmanship was most surely eye-opening. And though it won't stop Trump attacks on him -- in fact, it may increase them (though the best he could offer later in the evening was to ridiculously, infantilely, emptily refer to the chairman as "Pencil Neck" Schiff) -- it likely will quash any even semi-serious effort on the committee or in the House to repeat this disgraceful action by Republicans. Indeed, after Adam Schiff had finished his masterpiece, Republican after Republican after Republican -- after Republican -- fell over themselves anxiously trying to get him to yield to them so that they each could explain on the official record how none of them believed what he had just pointed out that by their actions they "may" indeed believe.
If you haven't seen it, it's a Must Watch. On some levels, alongside Joseph Welch's famous, "At long last, sir, have you no sense of decency" speech to Joseph McCarthy. If you have already seen it, there's a reasonable chance you'll want to see it again.
We hand the floor over to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
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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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