s we begin another week that will likely prove yet again that congressional Democrats have never learned the wisdom of the old folk saying, “When your steed has expired, it’s time to dismount,” I’d like to comment on last week’s festivities on the same theme.
All joking aside, I am shocked at how little the Dems and their hand-picked lawyers understand the situation they are in. I know that those Ivy Leaguers had to have studied a little basic Aristotle in their high school or college years, and he famously delineated the “rhetorical triangle,” which anyone who wants to debate and persuade an audience must keep in mind. The three parts are ethos (which has to do with establishing the ethics/credibility of the speaker), pathos (which involves appeals to emotion, but primarily to understanding what arguments are likely to appeal to the target audience), and logos (cognate with “logic,” and dealing with the actual strength of the argument).
Smart Dem partisans would realize that logos is a mixed bag for them at best, because the endless investigations have turned up only the most circumstantial evidence, which would cheer their own partisans, but not convince anyone in the middle or on the opposition. The main play was obviously an appeal to ethos: these are three prominent leading judicial experts from our finest universities, so believe what they say.
Fine. That’s how the game is supposed to be played. But given that, the obvious move is to pick some kind of Atticus Finch-y lawyers straight out of central casting: sober, unbiased, go-where-the-facts-lead-them types.
The GOP had such a lawyer laying out the case against impeachment: Jonathan Turley. He is just the kind of ethos-heavy lawyer you’d want. Impeccable legal credentials (which turn out to be not as impressive in general as we might have believed, given the quality of the other three lawyers on the dais), an even-handed and calm demeanor, and a transparent personal bias against Trump. He is a well-known partisan Dem, and confessed not just that he had NOT voted for Trump, but that he’d voted AGAINST Trump. Which is perfect for establishing some ethos: this guy doesn’t like Trump, and so his arguments against impeachment carry some extra weight. I won’t go into the details of his case, but if you watched even a few highlights, it was clear that he was making a substantive, intelligent defense of his position.
Who did the Dems come up with? Moe, Curly and Howard Dean!
I’m honestly not saying that because I’m on the opposite side of the debate; I defy anyone to look at the arguments that they made and the way they made them, and with a straight face say that they were persuasive to anyone who wasn’t already a radical, 100% partisan on the subject. All three made exaggerated, emotionally over-wrought and nearly fact-free assertions. But even before they opened their mouths, the violation of ethos by putting up three transparent partisans to give what was supposed to be scholarly analysis crippled their efforts.
Could the Dems on the committee really not find three lawyers — in a nation lousy with lawyers! – who didn’t have decades’ long records of leftist partisan voting, contributing and work histories, not to mention obvious and publicly expressed hostility to Trump? Failing that, could they not at least find three Trump haters who could at least reasonably pretend to be unbiased?
That’s apparently a negative, Ghost Rider.
Gerhardt was the least bad, and he was still pretty terrible. His lefty background is well-known – he has worked for various Dems for decades, including assisting the Clinton transition team and helping Dianne Feinstein’s attempt to scuttle Kavanaugh’s SC nomination. So was anyone surprised when he said that he could not “help but conclude that this president has attacked each of the Constitution’s safeguards against establishing a monarchy in this country,” or when he said that the Ukraine call was the worst abuse of presidential power ever?
Remember when FDR imprisoned 100,000 Japanese-American citizens for several years with no due process, or when Andrew Jackson slaughtered all of those Indians, just to mention a few examples? Neither does Gerhardt, apparently.
Noah Feldman – it’s not relevant that he looks like Benedict Cumberbatch’s dim-witted cousin — was no prize, either. He is employed by Bloomberg News (which is owned by a Democrat presidential candidate you may have heard of), and has written publicly, and as early as mid-2017 at least, that Trump had already committed impeachable offenses having nothing to do with the current fiasco. But in his sworn testimony he said that he had been “an impeachment skeptic until July 25t” when he heard the infamous phone call.
The worst of the bunch was Pamela Karlan, who looked like everybody’s angry ex-wife. (I say that hypothetically, still being married to my own lovely first wife.) She is on record as an unbalanced harpie for years: she recounted having to walk across the street to avoid even being physically near a Trump hotel, and she started calling for his impeachment in 2016, before he’d even been sworn in. And she made what I’m sure she thought was a hilarious joke about Trump’s 13-year old son Barron.
For those of you keeping score at home: It’s completely unacceptable to take any shots at Joe Biden’s 49-year-old, cokehead, stripper-impregnating, sibling’s-widow-jumping son. But 13-year-old Barron Trump is fair game.
In summary, the Dems chose witnesses with absolutely no ethos, and they made logos-free arguments, and managed to misread and turn off the audience of moderates and persuadable Trump critics whom they needed most.
Turning to my favorite melt-downs, the first one was from Nancy Pelosi, who is at least smart enough to know that she’s supposed to adopt a “more in sorrow than in anger” pose, pretend that this whole thing pains her, and that she wishes Trump hadn’t behaved so badly that she must reluctantly push for impeachment. THAT’s the tack you’re supposed to take, Ivy League boneheads.
And Pelosi has another advantage over those lawyers: because her face contains enough botox to kill your average hemisphere-wide ecosystem, she is more likely to be able to conceal her emotions than anyone with a normally functioning human face.
Unfortunately for her, the incredible dishonesty of the pose she has been trying to adopt cannot be suppressed, even by planet-destroying levels of botulinum toxins. Thus, her amazingly satisfying meltdown at the tail end of her prepared remarks on Friday.
The remarks themselves were fine: she read her prepared lines from the teleprompter in a way seemingly designed to answer the question, “What would it sound like if a robot was forced to make a hostage video?” Sure, those prepared remarks were full of lies too – the Founders created impeachment specifically for this kind of obviously execution-worthy misbehavior that we can still not clearly explain, for some reason; it is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we take this momentous step – but they were well-rehearsed and commonplace in the fever dreams of the left, and so her nearly lifelike mask held.
But when she was finished and started to leave to return to her crypt, James Rosen asked if this partisan proceeding might just be happening because she hates the president.
Nancy turned and shambled back to the microphone, pointing her mummified finger for emphasis, and gave an amazing response. “I don’t hate anybody…. Don’t you accuse me of that…. I think this president is a coward…. I think he is cruel…. I think he’s in denial about the climate crisis.” She went on to insist that impeachment is only about Trump’s terrible offenses against the constitution. Then she pulled out the big guns: “As a Catholic, I resent you using the word ‘hate’ in reference to me. I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way… a heart full of love…. I still pray for the president, I pray for the president all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”
So let’s all be sure that we’ve got this right:
- She thinks Trump is a cruel, cowardly denier, but her heart is full of love for him.
- As a leader of the Democratic elite, she is a huge believer in the separation of church and state and is super-wary of judge-y Christians who make a fetish out of the 10 commandments… and her Catholicism guides her actions as House Speaker.
- Like being very pro-abortion, and looking the other way as Bill Clinton groped his way through DC… and northern VA… and the eastern seaboard… and the west coast, whenever he could slip away from CAW CAW.
- She prays for the president constantly… e.g. “Oh Lord, please strike the bad orange man with a meteor. Or a flesh-eating disease. Or a meteor on which an extra-terrestrial flesh-eating disease has somehow survived. ”
If you haven’t seen the video, you should watch it. Because when you see that distorted grimace on her face when she finishes brow-beating Rosen, you will definitely find yourself thinking, “Wow! She certainly does seem like someone with a heart full of love.”
By the way, here is a verbatim excerpt from Nancy’s speech during Bill Clinton’s impeachment, back when she had just turned 258 years young: “We are here today because the Republicans in the House are paralyzed with hatred of president Clinton, and until the Republicans free themselves from this hatred, our country will suffer.”
Ah, Nancy, don’t you mess with us when it comes to words like that.
The second meltdown — and I must admit, my personal favorite – comes from the gaffe that keeps on giving, Joe Biden. You’ve seen it a dozen times, but it’s always worth watching one more time. And there are so many great details in it that really summarize who Biden is, that I’d like to dissect it in some detail. Since this column is already getting pretty long, I think I’ll do that tomorrow.
In the meantime… Avenatti/Karlan 2020!