GELFAND’S WORLD--Were the impeachment hearings really as frustrating as many of us felt? In a way, they were, due to the failure of the Republicans to break ranks and admit to the terrible truth.
Instead, they held fast and continued their big lie campaign. It didn't help that Devin Nunes seems to be almost as complicit as the president himself.
The result was that Trump's behavior in selling out his own country was revealed in detail by the testimony of multiple witnesses, but at the same time, the Republican members of the committee did their best to create a muddle.
The predictable outcome will be a vote to impeach the president that will fall along party lines. In this way, Trump will become the third American president to be impeached by the House and presumably the third to survive the impeachment trial. No wonder the sane anti-Trumpers are frustrated, what with the predictable negative outcome and a chance for the Republicans to repeat the big lie on an international stage.
But there is some hope. If the Democrats can base the impeachment trial on the deeper issues rather than on legal fine-points, something significant can be achieved.
What do I mean by this?
As many people have pointed out, the national problem is not just Trump himself, but the underlying conditions that led to his presidency. Unfortunately, we have not been sufficiently precise in how we describe those conditions. Let's try: There is a well funded political machine that is dedicated to protecting the interests of the rich, and that will tell any lie (or pound on any half-truth) to have its way.
That's pretty much it. True, the machine runs on racism and middle class fear, but it wouldn't be so successful except for the well funded propaganda infrastructure it created over the past quarter century. Fox News has been the engine that drives the whole system. Yes, there is another machine in the form of talk radio and the Rush Limbaugh syndrome, but technology in the form of cable television has taken the lead.
The complication for the sane side of this country is that Fox and talk radio have been hugely successful in creating the bubble -- that is to say, they have managed to prejudice their listeners against anything that the other side says, whether it comes from the New York Times, CNN, or the Democratic Party. Rush Limbaugh gets the credit for inventing the bubble when he started complaining about what he called "left wing media bias." It's a curious inversion of what was the actual truth at the time -- and now a substantial fraction of the country subscribes to this big lie.
So, here's the strategy for the impeachment trial: Put Fox News and right-wing media on trial along with the president. Use the trial to explain in simple terms how the president has been assisted by professional liars.
The secret is to do it on a daily basis. For each day in the prosecution part of the impeachment trial, lead off by refuting what the right-wing media said the day before about the impeachment. Show the facts in detail and explain how the right-wing media are doing their best to mislead the American people.
We're not going to get a better chance to talk back, because the impeachment trial -- particularly if the Democrats make it sufficiently entertaining -- is going to have viewers from both sides of the political spectrum.
We can also expect Trump to respond in his usual way, and this will provide another chance to reveal his character through his propensity to lie.
Reopen the Russian collusion issue
Trump and his supporters keep claiming that the Russian collusion story was all a hoax. The Mueller report and his congressional testimony revealed quite the opposite. There is lots of evidence that Trump obstructed justice on several occasions. The articles of impeachment should go into these obstructions in detail. The objective is to show that Trump has failed his country in the most elementary way.
Making lemonade from the inevitable lemon
And finally, the Democratic prosecutors need to pound on the fact that failure to remove Trump from office will not be an exoneration of Trump, but proof that the Republican senate is on the side of protecting the super-rich. Make the impeachment trial a discussion of American values and make it clear that the Republican Party is no longer on that side.
(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at email@example.com)