Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Mueller Hearings

I can't watch them this morning, probably will only listen with one ear to the radio this afternoon.  What I am reading about them reminds me of the calls for impeachment hearings a la Watergate, an historical comparison made quite ahistorically.

For one thing, the story of Watergate broke almost immediately after Nixon won by an historic landslide, and it moved into Congressional hearings as more and more information spilled out.  The dam broke when John Dean spilled the beans, but not everyone in the White House followed Dean's example.  The other explosion was the revelation of the White House tapes.  There was a court fight over those that went to the Supreme Court in rapid order, and Nixon was forced to release what he had hidden.  Most people never read those tape transcripts (I had a copy, but I finally let it go because I knew I'd never read them), but the damage was severe to Nixon.  And while the opening statement (I heard that much) of the Republicans was that Trump didn't replicate Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre (which turned more people against him than anything else did),  the allegations of trying to do so (which Nadler mentioned) aren't nearly as dramatic as actually doing it.  Watergate had drama; this hearing is as dramatic as reading a phone book.

The other part of those hearings everyone forgets:  counsel for the committee asked most of the questions.  Committee members got to ask questions, too, but as a follow-up to what the lawyers had elicited as a coherent narrative.

The hope of the Democrats was that Mueller would provide that narrative, would be an oral, televised version of his two volume report.  So far it has produced a soundbite or two, but overall, the reporting is a bunch of uncoordinated questions by Democrats, punctuated with petty bickering questions by Republicans.

Does anybody really think impeachment hearings would go any better, would be the sword that cleaves the fog of lies and reveals the shining and awful truth in time to remove Trump from office before 2020?

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