‘No.’ ‘No.’ ‘No.’ ‘No.’
That pretty much sums up yesterday’s testimony.
‘Did you receive any indication whatsoever, or anything that resembled a quid pro quo?’
Former envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker: ‘No.’
Devin Nunes to Tim Morrison, former NSC official: ‘Did anyone ever ask you to bribe or extort anyone at any time during your time in the White House?’
This follows the responses of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to the question of whether he was offered a quid pro quo: US aid in exchange for investigating Hunter Biden’s corrupt dealings with the natural gas company Burisma: ‘No.’
Ditto Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union: was there a quid pro quo: ‘No.’ (Sondland’s testimony has just begun at the time of writing: rest assured it will be more of the same.)
Last week’s hearings were preposterous, a disaster for the Democrats. This week’s hearings are shaping up to be even worse news for the partisans of the Adam Schiff Show.
Remember that old hippie slogan, ‘suppose they gave a war and nobody came?‘ It’s been updated and applied not to international conflicts but partisan intramural sniping: suppose they gave a hearing and nobody came?
For that’s the truth of the matter. The ratings for this reality TV show are in the tank. During Watergate, during the Clinton impeachment, people were glued to the news. Now, despite the screaming CNN chyrons, anti-Trump Washington Post and New York Times sermons, nobody cares.
The Adam Schiff Show is playing to itself. Even the president has realized that it is 98.6 percent farce, 1.4 percent menace. Hence his little taunts. Some Dems say Trump should testify, assuming the ‘offer’ will be brusquely ignored. But Trump calls their bluff: ‘Even though I did nothing wrong,’ the president tweeted, ‘and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!’
That was the last you’ll hear about asking Trump to testify.
And now there are reports that Trump is actively supporting impeachment. You read that right: ‘The impeachment hearings have been thrown into chaos after President Trump announced that he supports impeachment, forcing Democrats to oppose their own impeachment inquiry.’
OK, that last is from the Babylon Bee, a source that is only marginally more reliable than The New York Times.
It is a mark of the way we live now that articles in the Babylon Bee are often indistinguishable in terms of their credibility from articles in the supposedly mainstream media.
The Adam Schiff Show’s star witness yesterday was the pathetic Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — and that’s Lt. Col. not ‘Mr’, buddy, and don’t you forget it!
Some news reports say that his testimony provided nuggets for the Dems as well as exculpatory statements for Republicans. For example, the Lt. Col. said that he thought that Trump’s request that President Zelensky investigation local corruption was ‘an implied “demand” because of the “power disparity” between the two leaders.’
So its’s come to this. Lt. Col. Vindman testified that the public transcript of the July call between President Trump and President Zelensky was accurate; he confirmed that US aid was being held up not because of a quid pro quo but because of an OMB review to be sure its was consistent with administration policies; he confirmed, too, that he saw no evidence of bribery.
And this was Adam Schiff Show’s ‘star witness’, the modern major general — well, Lt. Col. — who was going to drop the bombshell that would galvanize the Democratic case for impeachment.
But mention of ‘bribery’ reminds me of a fact that has been little remarked. Like many organizations, the Adam Schiff Show has begun distributing pocket editions of the US Constitution. There are some novelties about it, however. For example, in Article II, Section 4, most editions read:
‘The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’
The Adam Schiff Show version is more capacious:
‘The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, Mean Tweets, Policies we do not approve of, Rogue Telephone Calls, being Elected without Our Permission, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’
I do not write in jest. You may not be able to find printed copies of the Adam Schiff Show Constitution (including the Declaration of Dependency), but my transcription of the bit about impeachment is an accurate transcription of the sentiment that informs it.
Lt. Col. Vindman loves his uniform — all those medals and embroidery — and he thought that Donald Trump was contravening the policies endorsed by the National Security Council. That is the essence of his complaint.
But that is just too bad for the Lt. Col. He does not set the policies. The president of the United States does.
The president of the United States, it pains me to inform Lt. Col. Vindman, is Donald J. Trump. He may not like that. He may think Donald is crude or wrong or ill-informed or out of touch. That doesn’t matter. He is the president. Lt. Col. Vindman’s job is to carry out the policies formulated by the president, to offer advice and counsel when asked, and otherwise to get with the program or get out of government.
An unanswered question is why the Democrats are proceeding with this destructive farce, so damaging to the authority of Congress and the national interest. Apart from the news rooms of the anti-Trump press and the activist cells of ‘The Resistance’, it has become increasingly clear over the past week that most of the country is either uninterested in the hearings or actively hostile to the patent effort to smear a duly elected president.
It has been clear from the outset that the impeachment hearings are a desperate reprise of the Russian Collusion Hoax — an effort to stymie, distract, hamper, and ultimately to destroy a political rival of whom the Democrats and the NeverTrump Right does not approve.
But in weaponizing the threat of impeachment — an instrument of last resort intended by the Founders to be a safety check against the most serious sorts of malfeasance — by deploying impeachment for nakedly partisan purposes because the president may (but on the evidence did not) say something which, if interpreted with sufficient malice and hermeneutical ingenuity, might just be construed to hint at a possibly (but probably not) inappropriate request for a favor — to deploy the awesome machinery of impeachment and spark such ‘mighty contests…from trivial things’ is a disgusting abuse of power and betrayal of the public trust.
The people understand this. Adam Schiff, drunk on his new-found celebrity and (quite temporary) fund-raising prowess has so far failed to take it on board. The reckoning, however, is just around the corner. The White House has slyly signaled its glee about how the farcical impeachment hearings are proceeding. If he took his duties as a public servant to heart, Adam Schiff would understand the peril he has brought upon his party and the disservice he has done the country by transforming his tenure in Congress into a partisan freak show.
‘If’. Well, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. The Adam Schiff Show is falling apart before our eyes. Like a television franchise that has jumped the shark, the Democrats thought they could transform this tawdry revenge fantasy into reality. It isn’t working. The interesting next episode will be all about damage control. How exactly the Democrats will move to extricate themselves from this ill-advised plot is yet to be seen. But I predict that by the New Year the impeachment frenzy of 2019 will be consigned to the rancid attic of misbegotten partisan schemes. No Democrat will want to be reminded of it and poor Adam Schiff will take his mad stare to those out-of-the-way, depopulated venues where embarrassing politicians go while waiting to be swallowed up by oblivion.