Facebook Twitter

The fake fight and the false choice: What to expect as impeachment hearings go public

Like a bad holiday fruit cake, the American people should reject this gift.

SHARE The fake fight and the false choice: What to expect as impeachment hearings go public
AP_19309084239648.jpg

Erin Schaff, Associated Press

The impeachment hearings go public this week, and our nation’s capital is once again roiling in red-hot political rhetoric as it faces the ongoing saga in addition to a looming government shutdown and renewed immigration battles in the Supreme Court over the DACA program for children brought into the country illegally. Sadly, each of these important issues will be presented to the American people through what has become the D.C. swamp model: The fake fight followed by the false choice.

The budget battle

Here is a preview of coming attractions (with a few spoiler alerts): The United States government will run out of money on Nov. 21 at midnight. In the coming days, you will see Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., deploy the swamp model in a most masterful way. The two have already colluded to determine and decide how much more they are willing to spend, what pork projects will get included for their friends and how much deeper in debt to push the nation.   

Then the magic begins. These two, along with their counterparts in the House, will take the stage with perfected script in the theater of the fake fight. The two sides will go back and forth as if to battle on the merits and argue over the details of the funding to the delight of their political bases. Both sides will demonize the other party as reckless and irresponsible.  

The two sides will go back and forth as if to battle on the merits and argue over the details of the funding to the delight of their political bases.

Then, as the clock ticks down and the media hysteria about a possible government shutdown cranks up — sound the trumpets — McConnell and Schumer will ride in with the false choice served up on a silver platter. It will take the form of a “continuing resolution,” which is nice way of saying, “Congress is just going to keep spending money at the same rate we have been.” It puts spending on autopilot.

McConnell will say to his Republican colleagues, “We only have two choices: We either pass the ‘awful and atrocious’ continuing resolution, or we shut down the government right as President Trump faces the horrific injustice of impeach inquiry hearings. We just can’t do that.”

Schumer will tell his Democratic colleagues, “We are on the verge of taking on and taking out the president and taking all three branches of government in 2020. We cannot shut down the government right before Thanksgiving. We have to pass this continuing resolution so we can stay on message.”

With few contrary votes, the continuing resolution will pass and the government will be funded until — wait for it — the week of Dec. 16, when another fake fight and false choice will be foisted upon the American people just in time for the holidays. 

We often complain that conflict is the problem in Congress. The real problem is collusion in the form of fake fights and false choices that leads to the real catastrophe — a $23 trillion national debt with more on the way.

But many Americans won’t even notice the fake funding fight because of the obsession and passion around public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, walks to a secure area at the Capitol to interview a witness in the House impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, walks to a secure area at the Capitol to interview a witness in the House impeachment inquiry.

Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Impeachment inquiry

Those public “hearings” should be renamed. Hearings require listening. There will be but little listening happening in the committee room as members from both parties bloviate for most of their allotted time. Too many members will eschew truth, facts or insight in favor of social media moments that will come in handy for their fundraising efforts. To raise money, you have to prove you are fighting in Washington. 

While transparency is an essential element to our republican form of government, the relevant facts and testimony from the witnesses relating to this inquiry have already been obtained by the committee. There really won’t be much new information emerging from the public spectacle, except, of course, lots of political heat and campaign cash aplenty. The fake fight portion of the coming weeks is all designed to sway public opinion. 

Elected officials are fearful folks, especially with an election looming. Neither side wants to make the mistake of Newt Gingrich and Republicans during the President Clinton impeachment proceedings. The GOP assumed the public was with them on both the fight and the choice. Republicans didn’t make the case, Clinton was laser-focused on an agenda for the American people and the fight fizzled in the Senate.  

In the days ahead, both sides will rush to microphones, make TV appearances, issue statements and send out fundraising emails. Each side will declare that they are doing their duty and portray the opposition as politically motivated partisans. Both sides will present false choices regarding the president, the process and procedures. 

More spoiler alerts. All of this will result in an impeachment vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives sometime before Christmas, and possibly the same week as act two of the government funding fake fight and false choice. The House will adopt articles of impeachment almost exclusively on party lines, and Congress will pass yet another continuing resolution to fund the government, possibly until the week following the 2020 election. 

The impeachment articles will then be passed on with a red big bow to the Senate for trial. The American people will then become the recipients of the gift that truly keeps on giving — a new season of fake fights and false choices. 

Like a bad holiday fruit cake, the American people should reject the gift of the fake fight and the false choice — or just re-gift it to the Russians. 

Like a bad holiday fruit cake, the American people should reject the gift of the fake fight and the false choice — or just re-gift it to the Russians. 

Americans are going to have to look harder, dig deeper and suspend judgement if they have any hope of discovering what is real on their way to getting to the truth. Recognizing that a plethora of fake fights and false choices are about to be uncorked on cable TV, smartphones, social media and airwaves can help “we the people” stay focused on what is real and what will really matter.

The forthcoming battles must be framed by what’s good for the republic, not by what’s good for the politicians. Check sources, avoid angry rhetoric, don’t re-post what you don’t know, challenge your current thinking, listen to alternative voices, demand civility and, above all, focus on what you can do to make things better in your home and neighborhood — unless, of course, that involves delivering a fruitcake.