It’s great good fun, an ecstasy, actually, watching Mitch McConnell squirm for a while, but then the sinking feeling sets in: Mitch always wins. Winning may be no great accomplishment when you’re the custodian of all the carrots and sticks, pulling the strings in a rigged system governed by greed and fear, but still, Mitch always wins, and Mitch doesn’t want Bolton or any other witnesses to testify at Donald’s sham impeachment trial. Yes, anywhere from 70-80% of the American public, including a plurality of Republicans, thinks there ought to be witness testimony, and yes, a whole slew of GOP Senators were all in a lather in the immediate reverberation of Bolton’s bombshell revelations (though why Chumley’s confirmation of what everybody already knew qualifies as a bombshell is a question for a quieter day), but Mitch, as ever, is being clever. First, he’s scheduled the relevant vote for Friday, which grants his flustered charges a cooling-off period. Second, he’s done something he never does, by revealing that according to his whip count, dagnabbit and gosh-darnit, he doesn’t have the votes to block witnesses at the moment, which can only be a ploy to put unbearable pressure on the waverers to fall in line before Friday’s vote. Third, he’s trying to sell the idea that if he agrees to Bolton, then the Democrats should agree to Hunter Biden, which simultaneously scares Democrats and gives him a cover story for when he wins the day – the Democrats wouldn’t be reasonable! – which is pure BS, because with his 53 votes, Mitch doesn’t need the Dems to agree to anything. If he wants to subpoena Hunter and his papa Joe too, he can. He can subpoena Bill Clinton, Hillary, and frigging Monica Lewinsky if he feels like it. Those miserable Democrats, though, wouldn’t agree to witness reciprocity! See that, all you folks who told the pollsters you wanted people to testify? It’s their fault. Mitch, like always, has all the angles covered.
So maybe Romney will stand fast in favour of calling Bolton, and maybe Collins too, though Collins – well, that woman has an innate gift for folding like a lawn chair, but say she hangs tough too. I still doubt that there will be four pro-witness GOP votes come the end of the week.
Which is fine, I think. Having started out with a farcical “Trump didn’t do it” defence at the beginning of their presentations, the Republicans reacted to the leak of Bolton’s contradictory evidence by pivoting to the previously announced “whatever he did it’s not impeachable” line of argument, a much better rationale, if they can sell it, since it allows them to admit everything, even if Bolton testifies, and still acquit Donald. Of course, this relies upon a gob-smackingly, breathtakingly dangerous and preposterous misrepresentation of the established constitutional law – if abuse of power and unlawful obstruction of Congress aren’t impeachable, then there is, for all practical purposes, no Article I Branch check on the Executive, which wasn’t exactly the Founders’ vision, was it? – but it’s gaining traction, and it’ll play with the MAGA crowd. Jazz it up with a couple of not altogether implausible sounding lies, like all Trump was doing was investigating corruption, how is that bad?, and the money got there anyway, so how was any wrongdoing actually perpetrated?, and bam, you’re home and dry.
That’s where we’ve arrived: Yes, he did it. No, we don’t care.
In that case, Bolton’s testimony changes nothing. Even if he gets to state his piece in public, no matter what he says, the GOP goes yada yada yada, tell us something we didn’t know, then still votes to acquit. For those of us who pray nightly for the end of Trump’s reign of terror, it’s therefore actually better if Mitch gets his way; then, at least, it looks like a cover-up, and no matter how Mitch tries to pin it on the Democrats, probably still runs afoul of the popular will. The Senate isn’t tossing the bum out, not under any circumstances, so all we can hope for is that the process of saving Donald’s rancid bacon looks as corrupt and gutless as it actually is. As they try to sell their dreadful, revisionist theory on what constitutes an impeachable offence, they look worse if they appear frightened to hear the evidence. It actually looks better for them if they sit there, calmly absorbing everything Bolton has to tell them, and then say, somehow with a straight face, that having considered the matter soberly and at length, the charges may well be proved but they just aren’t sufficient.
The disconcerting thought occurs that Mitch, who always wins, may come around to seeing it that way too. For all I know, as the shameless master tactician plays his insanely perverse, Machiavellian game, he’s twisting arms behind the scenes not to stave off fresh testimony, but to cajole, bribe and threaten certain fearful Senators into braving the wrath of Trump by voting yes on witnesses. For the good of the Party, in the spirit of taking one for the team, and all that. If thinking that way makes me sound nuts and paranoid, well, how else can a guy be, trying to keep up with the malicious maneuvers of Mendacious Mitch?