Much Ado Over Not Very Much

Bill Murchison,

A history professor I once studied under tended to offer weary responses to technical and highly dispensable questions of the sort that arise in weary seminars. To wit: “But what’s that got to do with the price of eggs?” Or, more pointedly sometimes, “the price of eggs in Arkansas?”

I thought of this aptly characterized boredom threshold as I watched the impeachment — um — hearings on Monday. Hearings? Snorings seems more to the point: a canopy of mingled objections and arguments and the preening of elected officials who know well enough they are on television. I make no attempt at distributing the credit or blame to particular actors, the defense or the prosecution. The occasion is large enough for censures of various kinds.

What had it all to do with the price of eggs in Arkansas? So little that a disinterested sitting hen would scarcely have noticed.

The hearings on whether to impeach President Donald Trump have hardly any discernible pertinence to the well-being of the American people or the security of the Republic. Yes, I know that Democrats assert, with bloodshot eyes and pounding hearts, the very opposite. Given the paucity of evidence they adduce, and its lack of relationship to some provable crisis, their fervor seems just a bit much.

This nationally embarrassing operation is, in essence, a board game with rigged rules, concocted by the Democrats as a way of embarrassing a seemingly nonembarrassable president. The rhetoric it coaxes from the mouths of Democratic leaders makes the matter even less endurable.

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For instance, take this statement from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler: “The Framers worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment. President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain.” And the next day: “The integrity of our next election is at stake,” and Trump poses “a continuing risk to the country.”

The gentleman from New York, along with the gentleman from California, Rep. Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee, needs to lie down in a dark room with cold compresses pending passage of their present fever.

They evidently prefer that the nation lie prostrate at the thought of the horror their inquiry seeks to prevent. It came down Monday to a murky, barely intelligible argument between lawyers over a phone call, asking — not commanding — the “favor” of an inquiry into the Bidens’ varied interfaces with Ukraine. Concerning which intervention, two points need raising:

No. 1: The unsuitability — yes, the arrant dumbness — of Trump’s request for political information on a potential opponent. How characteristic of a public man who prefers tweets to speeches, arm twists to exhortations. How unbecoming in an heir to the political estate of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Polk and so on.

No. 2: The peculiarity of attempts to portray a thoughtless phone call as political sabotage of the first order, necessitating removal of the caller just months before the people’s chance in November to judge, in democratic fashion, the caller’s tactics. Impeachment — what for? For public entertainment? What’s it got to do with the price of eggs in Arkansas, or, for that matter, anywhere else? Not a thing, I make bold to submit.

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A straightforward vote to censure the President’s diplomatic intervention would do the job infinitely better than the tedious and semihysterical process of impeachment. Isn’t that plain enough to see, unless, perchance, one lives where the imagination causes sweats at the mere thought of Donald Trump seated in a chair meant for Hillary Clinton? Or Joe Biden? Perhaps even Elizabeth Warren?

One could quote The Federalist on the need for perspective in that hard-edged human pursuit called politics. The carnivalistic nature of impeachment brings more nearly to mind Sir William Gilbert, who carved out, in “The Mikado,” an enduring standard for true justice: “My object all sublime/ I shall achieve in time/ To make the punishment fit the crime/ The punishment fit the crime.”

We might well, assembled next November at the polls, bear that standard in mind for application to Nadler, Schiff & Co. once they’re finished dragging their countrymen through such unpromising territory.

William Murchison is writing a book on moral reconstruction in the 21st century. His latest book is “The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson.”