A history professor I once studied under tended to offer a weary response to technical, and highly dispensable, questions of the sort that arise in weary seminars. To wit: “But what’s that got to do with the price of eggs?” Or, more pointedly sometimes, “the price of eggs in Arkansas?”
I thought of this aptly characterized boredom threshold as I watched the impeachment — um — hearings on Monday. Hearings? Snorings strikes me more to the point: a canopy of mingled objections and arguments; the preening of elected officials who know well enough they are on television. I make no attempt at distributing the credit or blame to particular actors, to the defense or the prosecution. The occasion is large enough for censures of various kinds.
What had it all to do with the price of eggs in Arkansas? So little that a disinterested sitting hen would scarcely have noticed.
The hearings on whether or not to impeach Donald Trump have hardly any discernible pertinence to the well-being of the American people or the security of the Republic. Yes, I know that Democrats assert, with bloodshot eyes and pounding hearts, the very opposite. Given the paucity of evidence they adduce, and its lack of relationship to some provable crisis, their fervor seems just a bit much.
This nationally embarrassing operation is, in essence, a board game with rigged rules, concocted by the Democrats as a way of embarrassing a seemingly non-embarrassable president. The rhetoric it coaxes from the mouths of Democratic leaders makes the matter even less endurable.
This, for instance, from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler: “The Framers’ worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment. President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our national security, all for personal gain.” And the next day: “The integrity of our next election is at stake,” and Trump poses “a continuing risk to this country.”
The gentleman from New York and the gentleman from California, Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee, need to lie down in a dark room with cold compresses pending passage of their present fever.
They evidently prefer that the nation lie prostrate at the thought of the horror their inquiry seeks to prevent. It came down Monday to a murky, barely intelligible argument between lawyers over a phone call asking, not commanding, the “favor” of an inquiry into the Bidens’ varied interfaces with Ukraine. Concerning which intervention two points need raising:
A straightforward vote to censure the president’s diplomatic intervention would do the job infinitely better than the tedious and semi-hysterical process of impeachment. Isn’t that plain enough to see unless perchance one lives where the imagination causes sweats at the mere thought of Donald Trump seated in a chair meant for Hillary Clinton? Or Joe Biden? Perhaps even Liz Warren?
One could quote The Federalist on the need for perspective in that hard-edged human pursuit called politics. The carnivalistic nature of impeachment brings more nearly to mind Sir William Gilbert, who carved out, in The Mikado, an enduring standard for true justice: “My object all sublime/ I shall achieve in time/ To make the punishment fit the crime/ the punishment fit the crime.”
We might well, assembled next November at the polls, bear that standard in mind for application to Nadler, Schiff & Co. once they’re finished draggling their countrymen through such unpromising territory.
William Murchison’s most recent book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson.
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