Time for a Directed Verdict? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Time for a Directed Verdict?
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What a disappointment. After the two House Get Trump Committees came up with (if you’ll pardon the expression) trumped-up charges against our current president, and the Democrats in that degraded body rose to the bait and voted for two articles of impeachment, we thought we would at least get a holiday break. A little time to enjoy our friends and family and the joy of the Christmas season without the ambient noise of the Trump impeachment rodeo and masa-cree on continuous loop. We could celebrate, secure in the knowledge that the charges, so flimsy and stitched-up they would make a kangaroo blush, would quickly fetch up in the Senate. There adults outnumber the children’s table, and the D’s little political stunt would be dealt with expeditiously.

But it was not to be. Chief House coup-master Nancy Pelosi won’t even cut us this much slack. She now threatens to withhold the impeachment articles from the Senate until Mitch McConnell assures her of a conviction. OK, that’s not exactly the way she phrases it, but that’s what she means. Her vague suggestion that Democrats may continue to pursue the Great Orange Whale until the end of time, or until there’s a leftist geek at 1600, whichever comes first, threatens to keep the undignified stalking of a duly-elected president in the public eye, ear, nose, and throat indefinitely.

So those of us foolish enough to tune in the news (a bad idea at the best of times) are abused now with endless speculation as to what on earth our Nancy may be up to with this puzzling tactic. The speculation is idle as it’s not even clear that Nancy knows why she’s doing this. She’s gotten herself out on quite a limb. A limb Republicans would gladly saw off it they only knew how. (You may be excused if the whole sorry business reminds you of a four year-old threatening to hold his breath until adults give him what he wants.)

The whole business calls to mind the couple of years I spent covering the courts for a Central Florida newspaper. (This was back when disco was king and Tricky Dick was bobbing and weaving in the White House, trying to find a way to stay in office.) I mainly attended to criminal trials, as these are what most readers were then and are now interested in. In those trials, most defense attorneys ended their closing arguments with a request that the judge oblige the jury to issue a directed verdict of acquittal. What I understood this to mean is that even if everything the prosecution alleges is true, this still does not make up the elements of the crime the defendant stands accused of. So the judge can instruct the jury to acquit. (He can’t, of course, order them to convict.) The judges never granted this request in the trials I covered. Prosecutors don’t like to bring weak cases to trials. It messes up their won/loss percentage, thereby their chances at the next political office they seek. And the default position of most judges is to send even questionable cases to juries.

But if the current slow-motion coup the Democrats are staging were in fact a criminal trial, this motion would stand a chance. Perhaps a case could be made that the Donald should not have mentioned the Bidens in his conversations about military aid to Ukraine and corruption in that country. But anyone who thinks this is a high crime is pretty high himself. It’s a trifle. Less of a bending of foreign policy to one’s political advantage than Obama telling Dmitry Medvedev on an open mike to cut him some slack until after he (Obama) is reelected and can give Medvedev what he wants (again, that’s not how he phrased it, but the meaning was clear enough), or his describing the clearly orchestrated military attack on the American embassy in Benghazi as a spontaneous spasm about an anti-Muslim film. He did this to contort conditions to his political narrative that everything was hunky-dory in the Middle East during his watch, and would remain so if he were just reelected. If crimes were ranked in order of importance and impact on the cosmos, what the Donald said in his Ukraine phone call would fall several spaces below passing a note in study hall.

It appears that we’ll begin 2020 the same way we began 2019, with Democrats shouting from every available rooftop that Donald Trump is little more than a limb of Satan who should be cast into outer darkness, and calling on Republicans to be “impartial” and agree with them. It’s a sorry and dishonest business, darkly comic and vastly irritating. But it’s where we are now. To top it off, Grinch Pelosi is trying to ruin the Christmas season. Don’t let her. Be of good cheer anyway.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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