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Right Opinion

After the Great Orange Whale

Guest Commentary · Nov. 13, 2019

By William Murchison

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” — a pretty flat declaration as reported by the Apostle Paul, leaving few gaps for politicians to fill at their own discretion. But you know politicians. Here we go with the impeachment hearings, an intended spectacle meant more as payback to President Donald Trump for winning the election than as a high-minded act of democratic reprobation.

Vengeance from parties other than the Lord God Almighty doesn’t always work out as intended. It can lead down twisted and unforeseen paths. Tempers get lost. Rage rules the roost. Butchery of one kind and another takes place, inspiring retaliation that provokes counterretaliation.

Well, the Democrats wanted this little show. They can’t wait for the voters to punish the president by heaving him from the White House, assuming they so decide. No, it’s a case of showing that the dirty bum has done us wrong — and, by the Almighty, we’re gonna get him!

How classy! How dumb!

Needless battles are always dumb. This one couldn’t be more needless. Let us count the ways.

No. 1: Donald John Trump is no American’s candidate for Mr. Sweetheart, but is much to be gained by giving this expert back alley fighter a platform from which to berate his tormentors? The likelihood of his sitting with folded hands, saying, “Gee, fellows, I didn’t know I was doing wrong,” is zero.

No. 2: Moreover, the Senate, controlled by Republicans, isn’t going to convict. No way, pals.

No. 3: How many Americans, apart from Trump’s band of foes, want this dreary spectacle? Think the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were spiritually debilitating, as well as culturally divisive? Wait until Rep. Adam Schiff tries to sink his claws into the presidential hide.

No. 4: Where, meanwhile, are the high crimes and misdemeanors imputed to the president and driving, accordingly, the pressure for impeachment? I hope nobody admires the president for seeking from a foreign leader dirt to throw on a competitor. The notion, nevertheless, that moral deficiency in the pursuit of campaign advantage justifies the impeachment treadmill is a very odd notion, in that campaigners at all levels of politics do odd and disturbing things.

No. 5: And where’s Ukraine, by the way? I hate to put it thus. Ukraine, as a buffer against Russian power, is hardly inconsequential. The Democrats expect Americans, nonetheless, to bite and digest big chunks from the testimony of diplomats over a campaign sortie involving … Ukraine? Which isn’t Russia; nor is it China; nor is it Iran. Democrats, for the sake of keeping people tuned in to Ukraine, will have to dial the impeachment volume to ear-shattering levels. Will they be rewarded for putting such a matter before all other matters that demonstrably engage the United States, e.g., employment, economic stability, health care, climate, guns?

The task the Democrats have assigned themselves is formidable, but I would go even further. The task is well-nigh impossible. So what’s the point? What’s the good to be achieved? And if no conspicuous good is to be achieved, why are we doing this?

More and more every day, Schiff comes to resemble Captain Ahab of the good ship Pequod, obsessed with harpooning the white whale that took off his leg. Schiff, last time anyone looked, has all his appendages, but the pursuit of Trump obviously furnishes some nagging need no one can see, in him and in his fellow pursuers — the crew of the whale boat brandishing harpoons against the certainty of failure and destruction.

What are we trying to do here? Is this show worth the candle, when the House, whether joined by the Senate or not, could simply vote to censure the president’s Ukrainian foray? Nothing more would be needed — just a motion of formal and lofty disapproval that would let us go on to other things. Like the 2020 election.

Impeachment is a proceeding so disproportionate to the imputed offense that these little congressional Ahabs, bearing down in a little boat upon the great orange whale, bring to mind an ancient observation: Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make just a little bit screwy, don’t you know?

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.” To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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