Witch hunting season has opened in America, but it remains to be seen whether Americans, with the attention span of gnats, will pull themselves away from binge-watching "The Man in the High Castle" long enough to watch the impeachment hearings and consider the mounting evidence against the president.
If you're not familiar with the aforementioned series, it's an alternative version of history streaming on Amazon in which the Third Reich seizes control of America. Like that could happen.
In the interest of efficiency, a rarity in government these days, Republicans have already declared President Donald Trump not guilty of extortion or bribery. So, I won't jump to conclusions that he tried to enlist a foreign power to interfere with America's electoral process, just because he did.
U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham's preemptive not-guilty vote was expedited by his refusal to read testimony produced in the impeachment inquiry. You know, the top-secret testimony Democrats were hiding right under the noses of 47 House Republicans. To be fair, they were distracted by the pizza.
“I don't have time to do my job,” the South Carolina Republican sort of said, “because I'm too busy doing my job!”
If you're curious, Graham's job these days is to float various excuses for the president's behavior:
• The president didn't really try to bribe Volodymyr Zelensky.
• Even if he did, it's OK. But he didn't.
• The president is too dumb to pull off any quiding, proing or quoing, and everyone knows ignorance is nine-tenths of the law.
• The president is above the law because look at the economy.
• First you have to break the Constitution to find out what's in it. It's like a pinata.
• Ukraine had it coming. They're as bad as the Kurds.
• It's a Deep State plot to restore a constitutional system of checks and balances that a bunch of long hairs created in 1787.
• Impeachment should be reserved for serious offenses between consenting adults.
• This is just an attempt to overthrow a president who was duly elected by Russia.
• We are scared Schiffless of our base.
• Look, if we can't bully other countries into interfering in our elections, is this even America anymore?
Once upon a time, there were actually Republicans who believed the good of the country came before the good of the party. The grounds for impeachment were clear—abuse of power, using the office for personal gain, sheer incompetence... Evidence abounds. However, when they buried John McCain, they buried the GOP's spine with him.
Don't expect any "Profiles in Courage" from the North Dakota delegation. Sen. Kevin Cramer sold out long ago to advance his political career. He's a lost cause. Rep. Kelly Armstrong cartoonishly joined a frat boy panty raid on impeachment proceedings to which he already had access. It's hard to take him seriously. And Sen. John Hoeven? Still in an undisclosed bunker curled up in a fetal position hoping all of this will go away.
“What did you do when American democracy was facing collapse, Grandpa?”
A. “I hid.”
B. “I went along with it.”
C. “I ordered pizza.”
North Dakota deserves better. America deserves better.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.