We now have Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for the impeachment trial, and they are, to put it mildly, bizarre. Twenty-four hours of presentation time for each side, to be completed in two days for each. Each individual piece of evidence that the prosecution [or the defense] seeks to introduce to be the subject of a separate vote. Each day to begin at 1 p.m.
This is clearly nonsense. No bathroom breaks? No breaks for dinner? Even the army, when it marches, takes a ten minute break every hour! They won’t finish each twelve hour day at 1 a.m. They will finish at 4 or 5 a.m. Is the Chief Justice going to agree to that? Many of these senators are rather long in the tooth. There are a number of Republicans who will fade like week-old cut flowers well before the Chief Justice bangs his gavel to suspend for the day [and night.]
What is going on? The conventional answer is that McConnell wants to rush the trial to a conclusion. The slightly more sophisticated answer is that he wants Trump acquitted before the State of the Union address, which is scheduled for February 4, two weeks from today. But seriously, folks, that seems a real reach. And if the Fab Four [Collins, Murkowski, Alexander, and Romney] vote for witnesses, all bets are off. McConnell knows that. So what is really going on?
Obviously, I do not know. But since this is a blog, ignorance is an invitation to opine, not to refrain, so here goes. I got a clue from something I heard former senator Barbara Boxer say on some talk show. Boxer was never one of my favorites, but she served for a long time and knows McConnell well. She said something unexpected. She said, “McConnell is furiously angry.”
That intrigued me. Whom is he angry at? The Democrats? Hardly. From his point of view, they are just playing politics, as he is. He expects that. No, he is angry at the Republicans, I think, and specifically at those four or more who have refused to vote for a summary dismissal of the charges. So he is going to make them pay! He has the votes for acquittal. Everyone knows that. But by God, if these grandstanding wobbly-kneed poseurs want a trial, he will give them one they will wish they had been willing to vote to avoid.
Well, that is as good an explanation as I have heard, absurd though it is.