Republican Premeditated Ignorance

The term “premedicated incompetence” was coined by a woman I worked with back in the 1970s. It designated the phenomenon of college-educated men who could not figure out how to load a dishasher if there happened to be a woman handy.

Something like that is going on with Senate Republicans. Instead of refusing to learn how to load a dishwasher, they are refusing to listen to the arguments and evidence against Trump. It is clear they are determined to get their sham of a trial over with asap so that they can vote to keep Trump in office. To do that, they have to remain ignorant.

But why? Trump’s unfitness for office isn’t going away. More evidence will be made public, much of it sooner rather than later. Watchdog groups and investigating journalists are finding new documentation of Trump’s corruption all the time. There is even a remote chance we’ll get to see Trump’s tax returns and other financial records before the November election.

“The truth is going to come out,” Rep. Adam Schiff said to the Senate. “The only question is: Do you want to hear it now? Do you want to know the full truth now?”

And we know the answer. It is no. Greg Sargent writes,

GOP senators who vote against subpoenaing new witnesses and documents run the risk that more damning revelations will come out after any such vote, and after their inevitable acquittal. This could allow those revelations to be hung around their necks, as examples of what they sought to help Trump cover up.

But it’s now clear we’ve been looking at this from the wrong angle. The truth, plainly, is that in this scenario, the fact that the votes on evidence and acquittal will come before any future revelations is a feature of doing it this way.

That’s because a vote for acquittal (which, again, is inevitable) before more damning revelations are unearthed is politically less costly than a vote for acquittal after any such revelations.

Yes, future revelations will stand as evidence of what GOP senators covered up. But that’s still politically less risky, from their perspective, than taking the chance that new evidence could be still more damning than what’s already known, and that they’d have to then acquit at that point.

Clearly, if you think acquittal is your only option, but you know deep down the SOB is guilty, you might as well stay ignorant of the evidence. You’re better off that way, even. So some day when even the PBS News Hour crew is wailing about Trump’s violations of the Constitution, Senate Republicans can claim that the House managers of the trial just didn’t make their case.

Except they pretty much did make their case. What I have seen and heard this week allows no room for doubt that Donald Trump abused the power of his office to manipulate the 2020 election.  Tom Scocca:

The figurative gutters of Fifth Avenue are awash in blood and spent shell casings. What the Senate cameras recorded was a day-long showdown between reason and brute force. Schiff and the other impeachment managers have all the facts and principles on their side. The president’s defenders had nothing to counter them with but nonsense and lies. Nonsense, lies, and 53 votes.

Adam Schiff’s speech yesterday was especially brilliant. Were Republicans listening?

See also More Than One-Third of GOP Senators Reportedly Left Room During Schiff’s Speech.

So, here we are.

My understanding is that Trump’s lawyers may begin their presentation as early as Saturday. (Per Senate rules, during an impeachment the Senate meets six days instead of five.) One suspects they will have much less to say than the House managers did. When Trump’s lawyers are done, Senators may submit questions in wiritng that will be reviewed by the Chief Justice. He will decide which ones will be asked. Sixteen hours are allotted for questions.

When questions have concluded, the Senate will have a brief (four hours tops) debate about whether to call witness or acquire documents. If Republicans vote as a block to nix witnesses and documents, there will be nothing left but the final vote. So the “trial” might be over by the end of January, which is what Trump and McConnell want.

I suppose we can still hold out hope that at least three (the Chief Justice would break the tie) Republicans will choose to vote for witnesses, which at the very least would draw the trial out past the scheduled SOTU address. But I’m not holding my breath.