Martin Schram: Impeachment blues and blahs

Martin Schram, Tribune News Service on

Published in Op Eds

America’s slip-slide into seemingly nonstop impeachment politics may be boring the bejabbers out of most of the country. But for Donald Trump, it’s a good-news feeling – at long last.

This past week, the good-news gods delivered for Trump two gifts he wasn’t sure he’d ever get. And I have a hunch he knows he’s also got a third gift – it just hasn’t yet made its way into the consciousness of our conventional wisdom.

Tuesday’s Gift: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy – performing once again as if he is Speaker Charlie McCarthy, sitting on Trump’s right knee – announced (perhaps with a little help from his string-puller) that he has unilaterally directed three House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into the man who defeated him, President Joe Biden.

Thursday’s Gift: Hunter Biden was indicted on three federal gun charges that had nothing to do with any of those financial investigations concerning his profiteering while his dad was a public official. He was charged with making false statements that did not disclose his drug use when he bought a handgun in 2018 and illegally possessing the gun. It was part of his plea deal that collapsed. It is the first time a sitting U.S. president’s child has ever been indicted.

McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry announcement seemed to have nothing to do with the crisis with which most of Washington was preoccupied – the fact that the unfunded federal government was hurtling toward a shutdown. Yet his launching of the official House impeachment inquiry was part of his effort to appease his party’s far-right wing, which was adamant about pushing to shut down the government unless Congress enacts drastic spending cuts.

McCarthy assigned three House committees to determine whether President Joe Biden benefited financially from the private business dealings of his son. McCarthy’s move was a departure from all previous modern era impeachment inquiries in that previous extensive investigations had not found any evidence of wrongdoings on the part of Joe Biden. Republican probes indeed found that Hunter made millions of dollars from a Ukrainian energy company and Chinese businesses while his father was vice president. But those past probes found no proof that Joe Biden benefited financially from his son’s unseemly, even if not illegal, private profiteering from his father’s connections.

In the midst of all that, of course, Trump spent the week seeing to his legal obligations concerning the four pending court cases that will ultimately define his future. He faces trials on cases ranging from his efforts as a sitting president to overthrow his 2020 reelection defeat, to his alleged efforts to keep classified documents, to crimes stemming from his hush money payment to a porn star.

Meanwhile, Americans are now being absolutely overwhelmed by the gush of mega-specifics and micro-details about all the allegations we have been flooded with for years during Trump’s two impeachments and now his four pending court cases. Now comes the fact flood about Joe Biden’s impeachment inquiry and Hunter Biden’s enrichments and addictions.


And the Hunter follies will lead us to recycle Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s deeds as a White House official who traveled with her dad to China, where officials then fast-tracked approval of 18 trademarks for her company. And especially her husband, Jared Kushner, who quit as Trump’s top adviser on dealings on many policies and places, including Saudi Arabia – and six months later got $2 billion from an investment fund controlled by the Saudi crown prince.

No wonder Americans are already hearing all that as just a stream of incomprehensible blahblahblah. And that gets us to what may be the third gift Trump got this past week. Namely: The House Republicans’ Biden impeachment inquiry will force Team Biden to refute each false claim and explain each of Hunter’s legal-but-dumb deeds. Trump, a man with a golden ear for gab, knows ordinary folks are already tuning out Team Biden’s denials.

America’s 45th president could learn perhaps the one trick he doesn’t already know, from our 36th president – LBJ. One of Lyndon Johnson’s favorite jokes was about an old Texas congressman who, after years of running without opposition, finally had a smooth-talking opponent. So he hired his first press secretary and gave him his first order: Plant a story in the newspaper that says my opponent had (improper relations) with a barnyard animal.

Well, the new press secretary asked: Do we have any proof? To which the old congressman veritably shouted his reply: “Proof hell – just get him to deny it!”

This is why Washington’s last surviving pundit may be the one who just nods and meaninglessly proclaims: The future remains to be seen.


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