In the production of movie or television documentaries reams of film are wasted. The process of editing results in discarding significant footage in favor of creating a story line. Virtually everything that does not enhance the “script” is ignored and, in fact, “highlights” appear over and over using different angles or enlargements. And even at that “stock scenes” purchased from others are interspersed to provide local color and intimate importance. You don’t have to be a screenwriter or a cinematographer to know this or recognize it when watching a production. Bear with me, this will make sense in the context of this column.
When the much ballyhooed and anointed president-to-be Hillary Clinton (D) lost the presidential election to neophyte Donald J. Trump (R) the rage began. The ink was hardly dry on the election results than the Democrat’s publicists in the mainstream media (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Kos, etc.) began the demand for impeachment. Democrat operatives, officials and office holders joined and/or led the chorus. Ms. Clinton and her handlers created and paid for a ruse in the form of a phony dossier claiming that Mr. Trump was, in effect, an agent of the Russian government. They used the phony dossier and the cooperation of senior leaders of the FBI, Justice Department, State Department, CIA and the NSA to lend credibility to a lie and launch an investigation. They handpicked the person to lead that investigation – FBI Director James Comey’s good friend Robert Mueller – and the investigators to populate its ranks – seventeen Democrats most of whom had donated during the 2016 election to Democrats and/or Ms. Clinton. They spent nearly two years and $32 Million dollars to produce a 448-page report that found no evidence of collusion by Mr. Trump or his campaign with the Russians.
Not a single Democrat who continued to call for Mr. Trump’s impeachment bothered to read the report. Instead they demanded that Mr. Mueller appear before various House Committees (all chaired by Democrats) to “discuss” the report. Their purpose was not to view the facts discovered by Mr. Mueller but rather to create a video of him reading the report that could then be edited for campaign purposes. The Democrats reasoned that since they didn’t read the report no one else would. Worse yet if anyone did read the report they would see its internal consistency and detail and be even more convinced that the “Russian collusion” was a sham. One after another of the Democrat members of the various committees asked Mr. Mueller to read from this page or that page of the report. Mr. Mueller who has been around these political lightweights almost all of his professional life could spot a “set up” before they could utter the words and politely demurred stating that he would be happy to listen to them read from whatever script they referenced and then respond to their questions – if, in fact, there was any question. Boom! That was the end of the Mueller Report: The Movie. There may have been some drama in clips showing Mr. Mueller reading heavily edited portions but watching Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Sheila Jackson (D-TX), and Maxine Water (D-CA) read the same script becomes a laughfest.
Having failed again, the Democrats turned to Mr. Schiff to create an excuse for undertaking impeachment hearings. He produced an unidentified “whistle blower” using third hand information about a call between Mr. Trump and Ukraine’s new president Volodymer Zelensky in which, according to the whistleblower, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold foreign aid to the Ukraine if Mr. Zelensky did not investigate former Vice-president Joe Biden’s son for alleged corruption. (Of course the alleged corruption is based on bragging by Mr. Biden that he in fact threatened to withhold aid until the former president of Ukraine fired a prosecutor investigating the firm that hired Mr. Biden’s son. Try to get your head around that.) All of that came apart when Mr. Trump produced the transcript of the actual call showing that the whistle blower’s allegations were false.
But that did not deter the Democrats. Instead they voted to begin the impeach inquiry and hold public hearings to solicit testimony – not about what was actually said, but rather about how people felt about what was said or not said. Mr. Schiff now routinely cuts off questioning and limits those who can be called as witnesses by the Republicans. But – and this is the most important part – it is all being filmed using questions and answers carefully scripted and rehearsed.
And for what purpose? The Democrats have already signaled that they have the votes to pass an impeachment resolution and that is even before the hearings began. No, the purpose is not to provide information upon which reasoned decisions can be made; the purpose is to create the movie boiled down into thirty and sixty second segments to be used in the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.
But the Democrats aren’t the only ones that can use the hearings for political purposes. The Republicans are using their time to demonstrate the inconsistency, the lack of personal knowledge, and the suppositions of the witnesses and detailing the actions of Mr. Schiff as he presides over this kangaroo court. Reps. Elise Marie Stefanik (R-NY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) have become the stars of the Republican show with Ms. Stefanik laying waste to Mr. Schiff and Mr. Jordan boring in on the inconsistencies of several of the Democrat witnesses.
I’d like to say that this is great theatre but it isn’t. It is a waste of time and money. The Democrats who campaigned on immigration, healthcare and education have concentrated instead on removing Mr. Trump. Their first two attempts have proven to be a bust. They are likely to repeat themselves on this attempt also. So patently partisan is the Democrat impeachment inquiry, so lacking in facts, and so crudely unjust in its process it simply invites the Senate to dismiss the Democrat’s impeachment resolution on the grounds that if fails to state facts supporting its claim. More likely, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – a shrewd legislative tactician – will use the process to dismantle the Democrats and highlight their partisan witch hunt to their never ending embarrassment.
In the end, the only ad that will be worth watching will be the picture of Mr. Schiff, looking like he is on the receiving end of a prostate exam while Ms. Stefanik reads the list of his deceptions, abandoned promises, and unjudicial practices.