Politicians lack self-awareness the same way members of “The Real Housewives of <insert city here>” lack shame.
This isn’t to say politicians can lack shame — they usually do, although not in the same way that cosmetically enhanced rich women with a preternatural tendency to throw mojitos in someone else’s face in a trendy restaurant do — but it’s the self-awareness that truly distinguishes the elected official from the woman with the expensive outfit and Bobbi Brown makeup who smells of mint and top-shelf rum.
In that tradition, I give you Democratic New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler — impeachment manager, House Judiciary Committee chairman and (even though I’ve been reliably informed this is the worst thing you can do to a person on the left aside from call an Italian pundit “Fredo”) a liberal hack.
Nadler made news Wednesday when he played a clip of South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a prominent Trump ally and one of the individuals who says a crime needs to have been committed in order for him to consider voting to convict President Donald Trump.
According to USA Today, when asked about his openness to conviction last October, he responded, “Sure. I mean, show me something that is a crime.”
The fact that the articles of impeachment don’t include any crimes has been one of the major issues for the Democrats.
Yes, constitutional scholars agree you don’t need a crime to impeach and remove someone from office.
It certainly helps, particularly if you’re accusing the president of attempting to turn the United States into a corrupt oligarchy with no respect for the rule of law and you can’t quite point to a crime the president has committed instead of vague ideas involving abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Nadler took to the Senate floor Wednesday and played a clip of Graham speaking back in 1999, when the South Carolina Republican was singing a different tune.
“What’s a high crime? How about if an important person hurts somebody of low means,” Graham said in the clip.
“It’s not very scholarly, but I think it’s the truth,” Graham continued. “I think that’s what [the framers of the Constitution] meant by high crimes. It doesn’t even have to be a crime. It’s just when you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you’ve committed a high crime.”
Graham isn’t a lawyer on Trump’s team, mind you, and he hasn’t made that argument in more than 20 years, but he was owned by the libs, if you listened to Twitter.
oh. my. New clip of @LindseyGrahamSC saying of course you don’t need a crime for impeachment.
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) January 23, 2020
Oh, sorry, my mistake, that’s “conservative” Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, a writer whose Trump-era go-to is to excoriate Republicans who don’t don sackcloth whenever Donald Trump is mentioned and then side with the Democrats on most matters of substance.
Well, if we’re going to the heady days of AOL, Windows 95 and the Sega Dreamcast, we might as well see what everyone was saying, not just those on the right.
For instance, let’s take Jerrold Nadler’s opening statement at a House Judiciary Committee hearing during the impeachment proceedings against then-President Bill Clinton in December 1998. Back then, Nadler made it clear not all felonies are impeachable:
“Some of our Republican colleagues have made much of the fact that some of the Democrats on this committee in 1974, voted in favor of an article of impeachment relating to President Nixon’s alleged perjury on his tax returns,” he said. “But the plain fact is that a bipartisan vote of that committee, something we have not yet had in this process on any substantive question, rejected that article.”
“That’s the historical record, and it was rejected largely based on the belief that an impeachable offense must be an abuse of presidential power, a great and serious offense against the nation, not perjury on a private matter,” Nadler added, according to a CNN transcript.
“I have heard it said tonight that perjury is as serious an offense as bribery. That it is equivalent to bribery, a per se impeachable offense. But bribery goes to the heart of the president’s conduct of his constitutional duties. It converts his loyalties and efforts from promoting the welfare of the republic to promoting some other interest.
“Perjury is a serious crime. And if proven, should be prosecuted in a court of law. But it may or may not implicate the president’s duties and performance in office. Perjury on a private matter, perjury regarding sex, is not a great and serious offense against the nation. It is not an abuse of uniquely presidential power, it does not threaten our form of government.”
But wait, it gets better:
“The effect of impeachment is to overturn the popular will of the voters as expressed in a national election,” he continued. “We must not overturn an election and remove a president from office except to defend our very system of government or our constitutional liberties against a dire threat. And we must not do so without an overwhelming consensus of the American people and of their representatives in congress of the absolute necessity.”
Now, I’m certain we can all evolve in the space of 20 years and change. You can just admit you’ve changed.
Or you can talk about Republicans’ “fixation on the Clinton precedent”:
What he said: “I just want to add that this fixation on the Clinton precedent is weird.”
What he meant: “I don’t like Republicans using what I said in 1999 against me now.” pic.twitter.com/ICRmHGzPim
— The Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) January 21, 2020
There might be other contexts for this, after all, but one of them could very well be what The Daily Wire pointed out: “I don’t like Republicans using what I said in 1999 against me now.”
Furthermore, it’s easier to evolve in the way that Graham did than Nadler did.
And, even if you don’t believe so, consider the fact that Nadler sounds every bit as hypocritical to the right as Graham does to the left.
The only difference is, Nadler is an impeachment manager.
He’s the one making the case and trying to make Graham look as if he’s some kind of B-movie politician.
Yet, as we can see here, the New York Democrat’s position has shifted even more so than the South Carolina Republican’s has — and, as always, he lacks any modicum of self-awareness of that fact.
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