BY ADAM GOODMAN
This is the time of year when America’s pastime takes center stage. Every pitch, every at-bat, every decision in baseball’s playoffs will be accorded significance as viewers patiently watch for hours to witness that one play that changes fate’s trajectory and separates contenders from pretenders, Cinderellas from champions.
The Washington Nationals, like our wonderfully upstart Tampa Bay Rays, are hoping fate continues smiling on them, fresh off a heart-stopping, come-from-behind win in the wild card game. Whether they go all the way or not, they have already won a place in Washington sports history.
Yet across town, in an arena filled with hyperbole and hypocrisy, another American pastime is playing out, a blood sport yielding few winners and fewer heroes.
The assault on President Donald Trump is on, fueled by a hyper-partisan Congress that’s forfeited any pretense to decency and fairness. They realize holding to those values could stop them from winning a verdict many of them felt cheated out of following 674 Mueller-led days of investigation.
What America is seeing isn’t from a legal courtroom but a kangaroo court. The once reluctant architect of this tempest and now its lead enabler is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She should know better. In fact, not so long ago, she did, when she stood up on the House floor to defend another president, Bill Clinton, from political execution:
“Principles Americans hold dear..have been violated..
judging the president (not) with fairness but impeaching him with a vengeance…
our country will suffer...”
Now Pelosi has completed a 180-degree turn. On a stage bedecked with flags and choreographed for effect, she launched an investigation led by Democrats to impeach a Republican president. She proclaimed it was all for the good of the nation, all to preserve the Republic.
Think about it. You have Democrats judging the top Republican in an inquisition shorn of due process, where those who sit in judgment have full-on political prejudice against the defendant.
In “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Atticus Finch observed: “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.” Atticus was spot on.
To deflect criticism that this is a political show trial where the decision is certain and the verdict already rendered, the House speaker is referencing the U.S. Constitution.
Okay, let’s go there. The Constitution provides for checks and balances between the three branches of government, to prevent one of them from playing Russian roulette with another (see, that Russian thing is everywhere).
Further, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed in 1791, ensures something else: fairness. It affirms the right to a public trial by an impartial jury. Congressional Democrats clearly feel they are exempt, that they can be both judge and jury, that it’s okay for those with a political ax to grind to plant that ax in the back of anyone, anytime, and for any reason.
No, this is not a court of law. It’s a political firing squad with a very clear objective: take the president out now.
Instead of risking defeat in 2020, the Democrats want to advance that calendar by a year, to commission their own “election” (aka impeachment) before we can hold ours. Worse, they believe driving a president back on his haunches is worth the risk of bringing the nation to its knees.
This won’t help boost Congress’ poor image ratings due to decades of grandstanding and gridlock.
This won’t help Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg or any other Democrat win the presidency, because it will drown out their debates and diminish their ideas.
This also won’t bring down the president, backed by a resolute Senate and by Americans who believe the system has a mean streak of striking back at those who don’t play by their rules.
In the end, House instigators like Rep. Adam Schiff – who thought nothing of smearing the reputation of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire – will prove no match for a president perpetually prepared to go toe-to-toe with anyone, and who still believes the only vote of confidence that counts belongs to the American people.
Yes, in the weeks ahead we will dream about how the Rays and the Nationals might just give the mighty Yankees and Dodgers a run for their money. After all, we love the underdog, in life as well as sport.
But we can’t love what’s going on in the U.S. Capitol today…much less anyone who’s cheering for it.
Adam Goodman is a national Republican media consultant based in St. Petersburg and the first Edward R. Murrow Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.