I wasted a lot of time this week watching the impeachment hearings, and I put icing on the cake by diving into my pre-ordered copy of A Warning by Anonymous. I have nothing to show for my efforts in terms of new insights. Nor did I execute a civic duty by tuning in. I’ve read the Constitution: Nowhere in it does it suggest that watching TV or otherwise reading about the same things repeatedly makes America a better place.
Retrospection often brings wisdom, but it can also bring regret and anger. After accepting that my wasted hours should have been spent elsewhere, I turned to the question of whom to blame. Our President came to mind for obvious reasons but blaming him is like blaming your dog for bringing dirt into the house after a walk. The dirt is part of the price of having a dog. I suspect you know where I’m going with that . . .. I also thought of blaming Adam Schiff, not in an individual capacity, but as a representative of a group of citizens who reached their breaking point in putting up with what “s**t” and felt forced to doing something. Because I long ago became numb to White House stumbles, stunts and outrages that I once would have viewed as “harbingers of the end of an era,” I have ceased to see the pro-impeachment crowd as heroes. Instead, I credit them with being co-conspirators with Trump in the crime of wasting everyone’s time.
Okay, so I am not learning anything by focusing on the impeachment “crisis.” Is that to say that I really have learned nothing—that every second in front of my Korean-built idiot box or reading Anonymous’ opus is squandered time? Not quite. On the way to a self-imposed penance of self-hate for my own role in killing time, I picked up a few take-aways. These insights in no way mitigate the bottom line for my recent activities—wasted time is lost time.
I am not outraged by Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. For anyone who has followed Trump’s stewardship of foreign affairs for the last three years, his actions were exactly what you would have expected. Trump said it best when he was quoted as saying he did not give a “f**k” about Ukraine. My assessment of Trump is that he doesn’t give a “f**k” about anyone but himself.
Devin Nunes is an embarrassment to humankind. Watch a replay or two of his opening statements at this week’s hearings. If you are attempting to teach a child what a toady is, use Nunes as an example.
I have been mispronouncing the name of the capital of Ukraine for decades. I always produced Kiev as two syllables. It’s one. I also learned it has multiple spellings. Should I ever make it to Jeopardy, I will be ready for the question. With luck, it will be a Daily Double.
Foreign service officers are remarkable people. Having known a few over the years, I always thought they were smarter than the rest of us. The ones on TV this week demonstrated intelligence, judgment and patriotism, qualities hard to find elsewhere in government.
“Ambassador” Sondland epitomizes much of what is wrong in Washington. How on earth did this “hotel executive” get his job? He gave Trump $1 million for his world-record size inaugural. No other qualifications needed. No college degree? Not an impediment to representing America before the EU.
Trump may or may not have committed an “impeachable offense” but, I am nonetheless sympathetic to the efforts to oust him. I had a dream one night this week—Trump packed up his Louis Vuitton luggage and fled the US, in Air Force One, of course, to seek asylum in Russia to avoid arrest. He took Rudy with him. I want both gone. More directly put, I find myself in the position of not caring about the nuances of the legal analysis of what he said on his now infamous phone calls with Zelensky. Aren’t there dozens upon dozens of other things Trump has done that are far worse?
I’m glad I don’t live in Ukraine. I wonder how the hearings are playing over there. Every witness and every member of Congress acknowledges that Ukraine is corrupt. It’s the one thing on which bipartisan agreement seems to exist.
I’m almost grateful that the impeachment hearings have drowned out the equally excessive coverage of the 2020 Democratic primary race. I say almost because I did notice that the wheels are starting to come off Warren’s campaign and a fresh moderate, whose name is mispronounced almost as often as that of the capital of Ukraine, is surging.
We have several more weeks of this soap opera to go, but to what end? Let’s say Trump get’s impeached. What does it get us? More uncertainty about what Trump, who some believe will adopt the behaviors of a cornered rat, will do. More political theater in the Senate, with Moscow Mitch and Lindsey Graham center stage.
A bottom line is that more time is about to be wasted. My challenge is whether to throw more of my own time onto the fire.
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant. He is a former counsel to the House Committee on Education and Labor. For more than 30 years, he advised clients on federal education and social service policy.