The Much-Panned Impeachment Trial

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is so far getting fairly good ratings, given all the diverse offerings available these days, but the television critics on the right find it boring. It’s a matter of utmost importance to the nation, they’ll admit, but they say it lacks sizzle and is not worth watching.
The critics have a point, as it’s not the sort of well-scripted and tightly edited courtroom dramas that viewers have become accustomed to, with no sex or nudity but a lot of legalistic blah-blah-blah. Democratic and Republican Senators alike were seen playing with fidget spinners reading books and dozing off during the proceedings, which have stretched into the morning hours. The outcome is seemingly predetermined, too, and most Americans have already made up their minds what they think about that.
The Senate Republicans are mostly determined to make the show as boring as possible. They’re adding plenty of their own legalistic blah-blah-blah, and trying to block a star-studded cast of former and current administration officials and Trump’s current personal lawyer from offering what would probably be riveting and ratings-grabbing testimony. The potential witnesses might be able to exonerate the president and expose a “deep state” conspiracy to depose him, for all we know, which would easily beat the last episode of “M*A*S*H” as television history’s most-watched show, but for some reason the Republicans would prefer the trial not get bogged down with witnesses and evidence and all that stuff.
Even so, we find it all quite riveting. We’ve sat through countless hours of legislative hearings and court proceedings and Ingmar Bergman movies and Joseph Conrad novels in our day, and spent much of our early teen years binge-watching Watergate hearings, and have learned to enjoy slogging through the slow-moving but fascinatingly complex plots about matters of upmost importance. This one features a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction hero or villain, depending on your point of view, and a variety of interesting characters that might or not be given any speaking parts, and what doesn’t happen will be as conspicuous as what does.
We should issue a “spoiler alert,” as the kids say, but Trump will almost surely be acquitted, and some 40 percent of the country will be fine with that. The rest of the country will think he was guilty, though, especially if the Republicans block any witnesses or testimony, and the season finale won’t be until next November.

— Bud Norman

Romney Reconsidered

The outcome has been all but certain for so long now that it seems anticlimactic, but Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination Tuesday night with a win in the Texas primary. Congratulations are hereby offered.

Although we started out with the same qualms about Romney as the rest of our conservative brethren, especially that darned Massachusetts health care bill and a certain technocratic instinct that it indicates, over the course of the long race we’ve come to rather like him. He offers a convincing critique of the status quo, sensible alternatives, long and successful experience in both the public and private sectors, and he seems to be a good guy.

There’s no use denying that Romney won the nomination simply by lacking the glaring flaws and avoiding the embarrassing missteps that caused each of his opponents to self-destruct, but there’s reason to believe the same strategy will work just as well in the general election, and the slow, steady, reassuringly boring competence of the Romney campaign bespeaks the very qualities needed in the next president. Romney did not mark the occasion in his victory speech by proclaiming that it marked the moment when the earth began to heal and the oceans the started to recede, but rather said that “I have no illusions about the difficulties of the task before us,” and that is another good sign.

Romney isn’t the ideal candidate that we and the rest of the party faithful had yearned for, but we really can’t think of anyone who is, and it now seems clear to us that the Republicans have made the best available choice. We expect that he would be a better president than Barack Obama, and perhaps even a very good one.

— Bud Norman