CSotD: Silence in the Courtroom

I’ve complained about cartoonists taking their own sweet time to respond to breaking news but there was no such problem Friday, as the GOP Senators voted, as RJ Matson puts it in an echo of Watergate, not to hear any witnesses or see any evidence.

He’s not the only cartoonist to summon the ghost of Richard Nixon, but I am really having to sort through a lot of material to pick a reasonable number of pieces — it strains “fair use” to simply dump them all — and Matson does more than simply point out that Nixon was held to a higher standard.

Lamar Alexander announced that the whole thing was just too, too partisan, which he apparently based on the fact that the Democrats wanted the testimony on the record rather than the fact that the Republicans did not.

There being an obvious difference between being “partisan” and being clear-sighted enough to recognize an obligation to give the voters what they want.

In any case, I suppose we should pity Alexander, Collins, Murkowski and Paul, who were under a media microscope, or, to put it another way, suspected of potentially making up their own minds instead of blindly following orders.


David Fitzsimmons echoes something you’re read me saying for weeks, only he does so from the credible perspective of Arizona, where they have a pair of thoughtful conservative GOP Senators in their past and Martha McSally in their present.

We have, as a nation, a similar contrast to contemplate — statesmen supplanted by obedient servants — but the particular gap between Goldwater and McSally is extraordinary indeed and the image of her klopping along in shoes she cannot come close to filling is well chosen.

However, let’s not pretend it is confined to Arizona.


There are dissenting voices: Kirk Walters sees calling Bolton to testify as a cynical ploy by partisan Democrats and includes the book to drive home the conservative point that Bolton has not had a change of heart or a pang of conscience or regret over having worked in the Trump White House, but is simply trying to sell a book, making him as cynical as those who are exploiting the President’s abuses of power in order to attack him.


And Gary Varvel not only celebrates the refusal to hear witnesses or view evidence but the certain acquittal, with a prophecy that the lack of a conviction will give Trump a victory in November.

It’s an interesting position because, if I were running an anti-Trump troll factory, it is very much the point of view with which I would flood the Intertubes. The more the Deplorables celebrate their victory and the move they assume that the battle is over, the more of them will stay home on Election Day, perhaps presenting a bookend to those voters who stayed home in 2016 because the polls assured them of a Clinton victory.


Though Signe Wilkinson points out that the liberals are very capable of eating their own and of playing the crabs-in-a-bucket game to make sure that any advantage they may have is fully squandered.

In 1972, they required help from the White House ratf*ckers to narrow down the list of credible candidates to idealistic George McGovern, a wonderful, admirable, likeable fellow who managed to capture not just Massachusetts in the election but the District of Columbia as well!

Today, they’re more organized and are already vocal in their rejection of candidates suspected of being electable rather than scene-changing, which would qualify as a snide comment if they were not loudly declaring itself themselves.


It should be noted that what you see on social media doesn’t necessarily reflect the national mood, and Pat Bagley points out a response to the impeachment acquital that may have a stronger impact.

There have been a couple of monarchy cartoons, but the use of the Constitution to protect Dear Leader’s shoes from the mud is a nice touch, and Bagley gives McConnell (and thereby the Senate) a little extra dose of obsequiousness here.

Conservatives have already begun calling the impeachment process a failure for Democrats, and, in fact, have been calling it one all along.

However, the Democrats could not possibly have expected a two-thirds majority to convict, and removing Trump from office was never the goal. The open question at this stage is how much the failure to bring additional witnesses and evidence before the American public will hurt the Democrats in upcoming elections.


Gary Markstein is correct in that America does not appear to have been glued to the impeachment hearings.

It should be noted that, while the Watergate hearings were significant, the networks took turns in coverage and there were other things you could be watching, assuming you were home in the middle of the day in the first place.

But cable television in those days was rare and limited mostly to bringing regional stations into hill country where signals wouldn’t penetrate, so the menu of alternatives to Watergate hearings was limited.

In addition, the three major networks offered relatively neutral coverage: There was no Fox News pimping for conservative causes.

Markstein is right that the hearings haven’t captured the nation’s attention as much as they might have, but smart politicians will find a way to deal with people as they are now, not as they were a half-century ago.

So I guess we’ll find out who the smart politicians are.

Because Clay Bennett is correct about the meaning of the Republican rejection of hearing evidence, and of their tacitly accepting the Dershowitz principle that, if the President honestly thinks his success is good for the country, nothing he does to ensure his own re-election can be considered impeachable.

If the public comes to accept that idea, the republic is in serious trouble.


Mike Peters may be right that we’ll get over it.

But, if we do, it will be because of something Frank Zappa said to me in an interview some 33 years ago, which I’ve quoted before but not in awhile.

It certainly seems relevant at the moment:


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