The easiest way to write about the House Republicans’ purported impeachment probe of President Biden, a theatrical stunt launched with zero actual evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, is to simply focus on MAGA mascot Kevin McCarthy – the hapless Speaker best described by the late sane conservative pundit Michael Gerson as a “simpering paragon of mediocrity, shallowness, cravenness.”
It’s tempting indeed to just target McCarthy, who said two weeks ago that an impeachment probe of a president should only be launched when a majority of House members deem it necessary; in his words, “if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House, and not through a declaration of one person.” Then last week, having (rightly) suspected that he’d fail to muster a majority, he proceeded to open the Biden inquiry based on the declaration of one person, himself.
So pathetic, but so predictable. I wrote last November that McCarthy would be Speaker in name only, “with one ear attuned to his master in Mar-a-Lago and the other bent to the whims of the whackos.” Michael Gerson predicted that McCarthy’s MAGA clowns would practice “governing by gangsterism.”
It’s actually worse than that. This impeachment farce is a textbook manifestation of the nihilistic strategy best coined by MAGAt Steve Bannon: “Flood the zone with s—.”
That’s how Vladimir Putin rolls in Russia. His apparatchiks pump thick clouds of disinformation so that citizens can no longer discern what’s true. Fake stories obfuscate what’s real. People who are exhausted by all the dueling narratives instinctively question the credibility of their foundational institutions.
The American version goes like this: Trump has been indicted in four jurisdictions on 91 felony charges, with more revelations seemingly surfacing every day (the latest is that he wrote to-do notes for one of his aides on the back of classified documents)…but wait!, now there’s a Joe Biden impeachment probe that’s looking at corrupt stuff he does, too. Because everything is a sham and a con and everybody is corrupt and crooked, therefore Trump is no more corrupt and crooked than anybody else. And if Biden is getting impeached for high crimes, then big deal that Trump has been indicted for crimes.
Or something like that.
The flaw in this flood-the-zone strategy is the MAGA House Republicans have zip evidence that Biden has done anything that warrants an impeachment probe. As Republican congressman Ken Buck admits, the McCarthyites have concocted an “imaginary” narrative that the president has personally profited from son Hunter’s business hustles. But “despite years of investigation,” says Buck, Republicans have nada. Buck points out that “impeachment is a serious matter and should have a foundation of rock-solid facts.” Instead, House Republicans have begin impeachment proceedings in the hopes of finding something.
And that’s the opposite of how such an inquiry is supposed to work. First you get strong incriminating evidence, then you launch proceedings. Conservative columnist and attorney David French noted the other day that in 1998, House Republicans began an impeachment inquiry “only after DNA tests on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress exposed that Bill Clinton had lied under oath about their affair.” In 2019, House Democrats began an inquiry “only after (they) received reports that Donald Trump had attempted to coerce President Zelensky of Ukraine” into finding fake dirt on Biden. In 2021, the House launched a second Trump impeachment probe “only after” his election-fraud lies had climaxed in the domestic terrorism of Jan. 6.
But the strategy this time is to simply “flood the zone with shit” by running to the TV cameras and declaring that Biden is a crook, using the impeachment mechanism to find out whether in fact he actually is, and regardless whether the MAGAts find hard evidence or not, they’re already (further) degrading the credibility of what useful idiot Kevin McCarthy calls “the People’s House.” No wonder John Boehner and Paul Ryan bailed on the Speaker’s job; there’s no way to corral the crazies.
The danger, of course, is that half the people in this country will glean the flooded zone and say, “Biden, Trump, the courts, the Congress – they’re all the same.” The danger, with democracy on the line in the 2024 election, is that the right-wing infauxtainment complex will amplify the zone’s sh– and put this nation in even greater peril.
As Jim Morrison of The Doors warned half a century ago, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.”
Copyright 2023 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]
Note: edited headline (changed from all capitals) at 10:45 am Pacific