Tuesday, December 03, 2019


Charlie Pierce is right about how Judiciary Committee hearings on impeachment are likely to go:
The Republicans Will Let Their Freak Flags Fly. The Democrats Will Do 'Gravitas.'

... if this account from The New York Times is to be believed, the committee warfare well may be sadly asymmetrical.
Democrats, led by Mr. Nadler, intend to try to rein in their more fiery progressives and infuse the proceedings with gravitas, mindful of their role in history. But the freewheeling nature of the panel, with its hyperpartisan members, does not easily lend itself to that task....

Republicans instead want to mire Democrats in a sloppy fight, making the hearings into such a confusing mishmash of competing information that even Republicans troubled by Mr. Trump’s actions see no upside in breaking with him. They plan to take advantage of early impeachment advocacy by Mr. Nadler and Democrats on the panel to portray the Ukraine matter as simply another attempt by Mr. Trump’s critics to take him down....

Joining Mr. Collins on Republicans’ side of the dais are some of the most ardent culture warriors and defenders of Mr. Trump: Louie Gohmert of Texas, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Jim Jordan of Ohio....
So Nadler is going to try and restrain his more enthusiastic colleagues while Collins frees up his pack of crazoids to let their freak flags fly. Gravitas, because that’s worked so well in a country that elected a vulgar talking yam to its highest office. I am already dreading this.
The Times story is clearly wrong in one respect: Republicans won't be doing this in the hope of ensuring "that even Republicans troubled by Mr. Trump’s actions see no upside in breaking with him." That's already locked in -- even if the voting started immediately, every Republican would already be on Trump's side. In fact, what they're doing is trying to turn this FiveThirtyEight graph back into negative territory regarding impeachment.

Politico's Playbook goes into a bit more detail on how they plan to turn the hearings into a circus:
-- PROCEDURAL ROADBLOCKS: Rep. DOUG COLLINS (R-Ga.) -- the top Republican on Judiciary -- is going to force procedural arguments with NADLER and fight when Democrats try to bat them away.... Republicans will focus on the definition of terms like “bribery” and the standard of proof.

-- COLLINS VS. NADLER: Republicans believe that, unlike Schiff, Nadler can be knocked off kilter easily. Whereas Schiff spoke extemporaneously in complete sentences, Nadler -- according to Republican research -- tends to rely on notes....

-- PROCESS, PROCESS, PROCESS: Watch for Republicans to complain a lot about what they consider an unjust process. They’ll talk about documents they didn’t get and the inability for them to talk to fact witnesses, and, when it comes time, they’ll seek to discredit the SCHIFF REPORT as being part of what they consider a broken process.
We'll hear that this is the worst injustice since the Holocaust, Stalin's gulags, and the lynching era. And every elected Republican in D.C. will tell the media that that's an objective, rational reading of the situation.

And maybe, after all this, the polls will still show the public in favor of impeachment (and, in some polls, removal from office), but that's mostly because the majority of the public has loathed Trump for years and wishes he'd go away.

Democrats are winning the argument, though it's in spite of themselves. Here's a video the House Intelligence Committee has just posted:

What does this say to people who are still confused about the timeline of events and who don't fully grasp why Trump's demands of Ukraine were corrupt? What does it convey to people who don't recognize the key witnesses on sight? The speakers in this video aren't identified by name. Their words are barely put into context. The clips don't follow in any logical sequence.

This is a video for impeachment fans only. It doesn't make the case -- it just confirms the case for those who've already decided that the president is guilty.

The public has already decided that it wants Trump gone, so maybe Democrats don't need to do better than this. But they should try.

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