“You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game. You don’t play to just play it.” ~ Herman Edwards.
I’ve been watching the second Trump impeachment trial, nearly gavel to gavel. I did bail out on some Friday’s session and the arguments being laid out by Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen who was trying to make the unmakeable case by inserting falsehoods, using deflection and making a mockery of himself and the proceedings.
I suppose that van der Veen can be excused for looking like a boy trying to play in the men’s court. Not a Constitutional lawyer, van der Veen is a personal injury attorney by trade, what we used to derisively call an “ambulance chaser.” He’s the guy you call if you want to squeeze a million dollars out of the owner of the dog that nipped you in the leg and drew a drop of blood. He’s not the guy you want fighting legal brief to legal brief against the likes of Jaime Raskin, a former professor of Constitutional Law. Van der Veen’s method of operation of feigned indignation, overacting and accusatory rhetoric is probably more suited to a civil case than a Constitutionally based trial in the Senate Chamber. (In one telling moment during Saturday’s session, the Senate chamber erupted in derisive laughter at the counselor’s rhetoric).
After Friday’s adjournment, and an apparent upcoming Saturday session of closing arguments a Republican Congresswoman, Jaime Herrera Beutler, came forward and confirmed that Donald Trump rebuffed Kevin McCarthy’s plea, made while the insurrection was in process, for the president to make a statement that would call off the riot. This was not only a contradiction of van der Veen’s presentation but clear evidence that Trump knew exactly what was happening, when it was happening and was only to happy to let the mayhem continue. (Link to AP story).
According to Beutler, Trump’s response to McCarthy’s call for help was, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
McCarthy responded to Trump, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”
But Representative Beutler went further in her statement on Friday night saying, “And to the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time.”
Beutler was INVITING witnesses to come forward and testify as to Trump’s behavior and demeanor during an insurrection.
As of Friday night it seemed like the proverbial slam dunk that Beutler at the very least should be called to testify, if not also Kevin McCarthy, any White House staffer who was witness to Trump’s behavior, and Senator Tommy Tuberville (who told Trump during the insurrection that Mike Pence had been evacuated by security to a safe place).
On Saturday morning I got up to see House Manager Jamie Raskin announce that the House Managers would call Buetler as witness and subpoena her notes.
I pumped my fist and, risking the wrath of my sleeping wife, screamed, “Yes!”
In short order all fifty Senate Democrats and five Republicans voted to hear witnesses. Some procedural confusion ensued and the Senators adjourned, apparently so that they could figure out how to proceed with the calling of witnesses.
Figuring that it would take the Senate some time to locate their Senatorial asses with their Senatorial hands I decided to go for a run.
Imagine my surprise when I got home and saw the closing arguments in process.
As it turned out once behind closed doors, what used to be known as the smoke filled rooms, an agreement was reached between the Democrats and the Republicans that reversed the decision to call witnesses and to go straight to closing arguments.
According to a report on Vox, “Political leaders in both parties preferred the trial to end now, rather than dragging it out. Democrats hope to return to a focus on President Biden’s agenda, and Republicans want the focus off Trump’s ugly actions.”
Dragging it out? It was the shortest impeachment trial ever held. It was shorter even than the Clinton trial in which three witnesses were called – over a blow job and a stained blue dress. Apparently for this Democratic Senate an insurrection, an attempt to overthrow the government, to overturn the votes of 80 million people, five deaths, numerous injuries and millions of dollars to fix damage and turn DC into a fortress didn’t measure up to the standard of a little felatio. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me since Americans are so tight assed and Puritanical when it comes to sex.
In the end Trump was acquitted as everyone in the free world expected before the ink was dry on the article of impeachment. Beutler’s testimony probably wouldn’t have changed the seventeen GOP minds required to convict. Any subsequent witnesses brought forth as a result of further investigation or Beutler’s testimony would also not likely have changed seventeen GOP minds.
We’ll never know though will we?
In 1972, Richard Nixon won reelection to the presidency by a landslide even as damning evidence against he and his staff over the Watergate break in months earlier was being made public. For a time it seemed unlikely that Nixon, having won the election by such a wide margin, would be impeached and convicted. That was until 1973 when two prospective witnesses, John Dean and Alexander Butterfield, made themselves available and thus making impeachment and conviction real possibilities. With the net closing, Nixon resigned; the moral being that a witness can drastically turn a case.
But in the Trump case we’ll never, ever know.
I think that maybe we should come up with new rules for everything. If the baseball, football, basketball, soccer or any other game looks to be out of reach then quit. If you’re running a 1500 meter race and you’re 200 meters behind on the last lap then just drop out. Why bother finishing anything if on its face it looks like a lost cause. Hell if the boat’s taking on water just stop bailing and go down with the ship.
If the thing, the Trump impeachment, was worth starting then why in the wide, wide world of sports wasn’t it worth going to the wall for? Why wasn’t it worth exhausting all possibilities? Why wasn’t it worth following through on due diligence?
The Democrats who reversed their decision to call witnesses are just as feckless as the Republicans who said from the beginning that they would vote to acquit.
Those Democrats dishonored the memories of those who died as a result of the insurrection.
Those Democrats essentially spat on the law enforcement officers who were trying to protect them.
Those Democrats turned their backs on all of the staff and support personnel who thought they might die in that building on January 6th.
In the end whatever resolve that the Democrats exhibited in January turned to be all wind and smoke in February, ironically on President’s Day Weekend.
The one, single person who showed herself to be patriotic, to exhibit some courage, was a usually quiet and reserved, Republican Representative, Jaime Herrera Beutler who on the night of February 12th decided that her integrity was more important than her political career. She likely committed political suicide but at least she’ll be able to look herself in the mirror.
I have nothing but respect for Jaime Herrera Beutler and will be sending her a letter praising her for her integrity.
As regards the Democratic Senate and the party in general, I’m about done with it. It’s base strategy seems to be to concede the field. It’s motto seems to be (after conceding the field to the GOP), “Live to fight another day,” only to repeat that motto when another day arrives and another concession occurs.
I feel dirty just belonging to this party and will change my affiliation and am quite frankly considering dropping out of the political process altogether.