When Geraldo Rivera found neither a treasure chest nor skeletal remains in Al Capone’s vault, he did not dare tease an encore special promising to surface the Titanic or interview D. B. Cooper. Adam Schiff possesses none of Rivera’s humility. After failing to substantiate loud claims of “direct,” “significant,” “clear,” and “ample” evidence of Donald Trump colluding with Russians to steal the presidency, Schiff follows up by accusing the president of forcing a foreign government to “manufacture dirt” on a political opponent.
“We’ve been very good to your country, very good,” Schiff paraphrases the president’s conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky. “No other country has done as much as we have. But you know what, I don’t see much reciprocity here. I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though, and I’m gonna say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it — on this and on that.”
Why make up a story when a transcript, or at least notes that read as a transcript despite the disclaimers, exists?
Like Schiff, the whistleblower with “an arguable political bias” (the “arguable” seems arguable) based his complaint on hearsay, which predictably led to numerous, significant errors of fact.
A strong will to impeach the president abounds in the deep state and in the House of Representatives. Offenses leading to such a rash action do not. So, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee resorts to putting words into the president’s mouth.
This pattern started when Hillary Clinton refused to publicly concede on election night. Then her voters immediately protested … an election. Her votaries urged recounts and unfaithful electors. A website, ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow, appeared immediately upon Trump taking the oath of office. Rep. Al Green cited Trump’s “racist comments” in criticizing members of the self-called Squad in drawing up an impeachment resolution voted down this summer. Rep. Steve Cohen pointed to the Constitution’s emoluments clause in announcing plans to impeach the president two years ago. Others relied on the Russian conspiracy theory and the president’s refusal to publicize his tax returns. Now Democrats unite on Ukraine. Maybe next week his stewardship of the Trump Shuttle, his role in the USFL’s demise, when he said “You’re fired!” to Michael for interrupting criticisms of Stephanie, or his less-than-cromulent neologism “cofveve” works as the ostensible reason for impeachment.
Ironically, all this followed near-universal condemnation — even in this column — of Donald Trump refusing to commit to accept the results of the election in 2016’s third presidential debate. “That is not the way our democracy works,” Clinton appropriately scolded during that UNLV debate. “We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”
Schiff seems the wrong messenger to carry the impeachment banner. While the left wing salivated over Richard Nixon’s impeachment, the likes of Sam Ervin and Barry Goldwater forced the president from office. The physical embodiment of Dr. Demento’s favorite Classy Freddie Blassie song does not speak with the gravitas of Ervin or Goldwater — or of SpongeBob SquarePants for that matter. He comes across as a hyperpartisan more comfortable talking on cable news than in the well of the House of Representatives. What did he think he accomplished Thursday in interrupting and hectoring retired vice admiral and acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire? That juxtaposition does not work for Democrats.
Ironically, neither does impeachment. It alienates the majority (57 percent oppose impeachment and only 37 percent support). It highlights the corruption of former Vice President Joe Biden and the last Democratic administration. It reorients public attention away from Democratic presidential candidates (as the Squad already did) by making Trump the center of everything. And by mantra-like affirmations that Trump wins by cheating — not because Democrats abandoned the working class, condescend toward religious Americans, and use “bigot” as the default response to anyone who disagrees — this robs the party of the needed soul-searching that enables losers to become winners.
Most of all, an impeachment inquiry stands zero chance of resulting in the removal of the president and a high degree of certainty to energize the president’s supporters. Sure, rabidly anti-Trump Democrats might find jaywalking a suitable justification to impeach. But the chances of removal, requiring two-thirds of senators, seems as high as the vegan Schiff wresting the mustard belt from Joey Chestnut in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest next Fourth of July.
Schiff and other Democrats safely ensconced in districts where elections act as mere formalities mislead their party into enduring consequences that they themselves do not suffer. The prominence of a conspiracy theorist prone to fantasy (redundant?) essentially running the impeachment inquiry hurts Democrats, not Trump.
In some versions of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” only the sheep get eaten. In others, the liar does, too.