From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
Let me dispense right at the beginning that the verdict of history doesn’t interest me in the least. First of all, Americans have the attention span of fruit flies and, to far too many of them, history is whatever came in over their iPhones 10 minutes ago. Second, I am now of a sufficient age that it’s even odds that I won’t be around when the ultimate verdict of history is handed down. So, on Saturday, when I saw El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago skate one more time on his unfitness for office and his rank deficiencies as a human being, all the flowery talk about the verdict of history was no consolation. I want a perp walk, not the march of time. Leg irons, not talk of legacies. There is nobody for whom I am rooting louder than I am for Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County who gives every indication that she plans to haul the vulgar talking yam into a local courthouse and, if baby Jeebus is still my amigo, stick him in prison blues and dump him into a holding cell that has a leaky ceiling.
Well, it’s a lovely thought, anyway.
The system didn’t work Saturday and no ex post facto mudslide of inanity from Mitch McConnell can obscure the fact that the system was completely incapable of reining in, coping with, and ultimately punishing one of the grossly incompetent authoritarians ever to attain high political office. As the past four years have demonstrated almost daily, the system is rotted clean through in some very important areas, and it didn’t take much strength for the former president* simply to knock the supports out from under them. And, on Saturday, as this latest burlesque came to an end, we saw the final proof that almost nobody is really interested in shoring things up in case a more competent oligarch buys himself an administration down the line.
To everyone’s surprise, just as things were starting up, the House managers won a vote to call witnesses. This was in reaction to news that broke on Friday night of a witness to a conversation from January 6 in which the former president* and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had a screaming match about how the former president* was leaving members of Congress to die at the hands of his mob. So the House managers went for witnesses and won a majority of the Senate over to their side.
At which point, the Senate Democrats folded like a $15 silk suit.
During a long recess after the vote on witnesses, the senators all got together and, as the minutes went by, the unmistakable aroma of chickenshit began to waft north from Washington. Gifted with a golden anchor to hang around the neck of their political opponents, the Senate Democrats opted instead to hit themselves in the head with it. They agreed simply to admit into evidence the written statement of Rep. Jaime Herrara Beutler, a congresswoman from Washington state who’d been a witness to the McCarthy-Yam screamfest. This, they insisted, was a famous victory, in that the defense agreed that conversation had happened and that, therefore, it had been proven that the former president* had been the reckless, putting the life of Vice President Mike Pence at risk. Of course, the very first thing that defense attorney Michael van der Veen said in his closing argument was that the president* and his team had conceded no such thing. Oy.
And there was no good reason for it. Calling witnesses were not going to delay other policy initiatives; the COVID relief package is still in the House and likely will not emerge until at least February 22, and the Senate itself is in recess next week. The Senate literally has nothing better to do for eight full days.
Thus did the one unpredictable moment of the week go a’glimmering. (There could have been another one. Senator Willard Romney, it was reported, was at one point ready to throw hands at Senator Ron Johnson. My money was on Mitt. It’s hard to bet against a guy who’s got 70-odd years of clean living to fall back on.) Ultimately, the former president beat the system. Again. Even Mitch McConnell admitted in his postmortem remarks that the former president* was guilty as hell of everything with which the House managers charged him. Fani Wills, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.