Public Impeachment Inquiry Begins-Will America Care?

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Starting this Wednesday, November 13, 2019, the public portion of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump will begin. Will the American people care?

It’s an open question.

For a while, I wondered whether the major networks were going to cover the hearings. Much to my surprise, they indeed will be covering the event. Scheduled to appear Wednesday are Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant for European Affairs George Kent. ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS will preempt regularly scheduled programming for live coverage. It was music to my ears.

I knew for sure that the major cable news networks and CSPAN would be covering the hearings, but now that the major networks are in the fray, there are no excuses for the American people. If you want to watch the proceedings, you can do so in multiple ways. If you can’t watch them live, you can undoubtedly tape them, or watch them repeated on those very same networks online, via YouTube, or various other outlets.

It’s so much different now than it was in 1973 when the Nixon impeachment hearings were going on. Back then, the major networks are all we had. No cell phones or the internet was available yet, so you were pretty much left to the decisions of those networks whether you could watch the proceedings or not. Now, there are choices galore. We have options not only in where we get our news, but different viewpoints as well, much different than in 1973.

As a sixth-grader at McEbright Elementary school in 1973, I have fond memories of watching the Nixon impeachment proceedings—in the classroom. My teacher back then, Mr. Cato, my favorite ever, wheeled a large black and white television into class for us to watch the hearings. I remember how most of the kids didn’t pay attention to what was going on. But, Mr. Cato made sure we were quiet, and always held a discussion immediately afterword. I always respected him for that.

Different than many of my classmates, I took a keen interest in the hearings. Perhaps that’s because politics was part of my daily life growing up in Northeast Ohio. We discussed politics at the dinner table and in the living room while the nightly news was on. My father was opinionated, as was my oldest brother. I remember them going at it on many issues. One thing they agreed on though: Nixon had to go. Much of my political DNA formed during these years.

I worry, however, whether what’s happening currently with Trump will garner the same amount of interest as there was back in Nixon’s day. According to Gallup, more than 7 in 10 Americans watched the Nixon impeachment hearings live. That’s quite a number when you think about it. If we get that kind of rating for the Trump hearings, I’ll be the first to shout out the praise.

Things are different now, though. Nixon didn’t have Fox News or any of the other right-wing echo chamber outlets back then. Trump has them at his disposal now. How much will that shape public opinion?

And I also worry about the proceedings themselves. In 1973, while there was certainly partisanship, it’s nothing like it is today. For example, the recent House of Representative vote on the resolution to proceed on an inquiry into Trump, not one Republican voted for it. The same vote back then received unanimous support from both parties. The divide seems insurmountable.

It’s not hard to figure out how these proceedings will go. Ohio Representative Jim Jordan was placed on the Intelligence Committee precisely because of his well-known allegiance to the president. Republicans want him on the panel to muck things up as best he can. He’ll do a bang-up job of that because it’s what he does best. The circus-like atmosphere he’s bound to create may have a detrimental impact on the hearings themselves.

This possibility is why the chairman of the committee, Adam Schiff, will have to rise to the occasion. He comes across as a straight-forward and deliberate guy, sometimes to a fault. But he cannot let the Republicans on that committee steer the proceedings to how they see fit. The Democrats are in charge. They must be fair, but they can’t let them get away with clown-show behavior either. He’ll have to nip that in the bud quickly and decisively.

Again though, it is an open question as to whether the American people will pay attention to this. After all, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Christmas and New Years are fast approaching.

I get it. It’s a lot to ask of a busy public, especially with travel to be planned and gifts to purchase. It’s tough to get Americans focused on anything for an extended period, let alone wonky discussions of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian President.

I’ll be watching these hearings, just as I did in 1973 as an 11-year-old kid in grade school. Will the schools of today do the same as my sixth-grade teacher did for us? I certainly do not remember any backlash from parents back in the day. I wonder if parents today even want their child’s school to weigh in on such a political event. We’re so polarized it’s hard to say one way or the other.

I, for one, hope kids have an opportunity to see history in the making. I hope they see the hearings at school and go home and discuss it with their parents. I know it sounds idealistic, even a bit naïve, perhaps. But there’s a real chance that the President of the United States gets impeached. It’s only happened two other times in the history of our country.

For that alone, America should be watching. I’m just not sure they will be.

38 comments

  1. speaking of networks, I am always amazed at how much the liberals whine and cry about trump having fox at his disposal, for two reasons. First, it isn’t true anymore and second, they have every other network, the washington post, the new york times, politico, and snopes for their bias fact checking so if there’s one network that leans more to the right of Marx, I don’t have any sympathy for anyone who whines about how unfair things seem to be going.

    as for the hearings, i do agree that people need to watch them but what they don’t need to do is to listen to the spin that the talking heads on all the networks will put on things.

    It’s why I listen directly to trump and no matter how stupid and idiotic he sounds, at least I’m getting the words from his big mouth and not some shill who has sold out to the corporate thugs who own these networks.

    Like

    1. I beg to differ with you sklawlor. Fox is still in his back pocket. Shep Smith, one of the few decent guys there, is gone. He still has sycophants Hannity, Ingraham, Carlson, and Judge Jeannie singing his praises. Hell, is Fox even going to cover the hearings?
      The so-called lib media helped elect the idiot. 24/7 coverage when he was running. They still try and normalize his ridiculous behavior. They show up at his stupid ‘chopper’ press gatherings where you can’t even hear the questions…only his loud lying voice. They rarely challenge him. He’s got them all wrapped around his fat fingers. Sorry my friend, I’m not buying your premise.
      My hope is that there are enough Americans with open minds who will look at true patriots telling the truth about a lawless President. I hope you’ll do the same. Or, do you consider these people part of the ‘Deep State’ trying to bring down Trump in a coup? I certainly hope you’re better than that. I do appreciate you taking the time to respond. Thank you

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Jeff.

        I don’t believe there’s some deep state conspiracy among the liberals, that’s just crazy but there are a lot of large mouthed people who do believe such a notion and it gets its share of listener time on the net. Like with listening directly to trump, I do hear some of this silliness direct from the source as well just to know what these people are up to. This is the same bunch who believe that 911 was an inside job and that the moon landing didn’t happen.

        I guess I misspoke and was thinking of an episode where trump and fox were having a feud, I remember Jill said something about that but you’re right, people like Hannity and the rest are his bootlickers and wouldn’t know truth if it fell on their empty heads form the heavens above.

        I enjoy your blog a good deal. Weren’t you and Jill working on some sort of series and if so, what is happening with that collaboration? Reading works by the two of you together would be really interesting.

        Have a good day my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you sklawlor. Again, I appreciate the feedback. Yes, Jill and I are working on something. Not sure when we’ll get it out there, but we have the makings of something I think you’ll find very interesting. Stay tuned!

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    2. sklawlor, you wrote … “It’s why I listen directly to trump.”

      I do agree that the “talking heads” put their spin on things, but when you’re listening directly to him and hear some of his “explanations” and “defenses” for things he’s been accused of, do you believe him? In your opinion, are his words credible?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. no, his words aren’t credible either because he lies every single day.

        It’s getting to the point where it’s almost impossible to discern truth from fiction anymore.

        in the old days, you could listen to both sides, take valid information from each and come to a reasonable conclusion as to what the objective truth was.

        Not anymore.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I worry, however, whether what’s happening currently with Trump will garner the same amount of interest as there was back in Nixon’s day.

    I don’t think so. I say that because in Nixon’s day, it was a out-of-the-ordinary event. Today? It’s just one more act in the three-ring circus. Moreover, the news media has saturated the public with all things Trump. Sure, there will definitely be individuals who will follow along, but not to the extent they did back in “your day.” 🙂

    I know I won’t be watching. For one thing, I never watch daytime TV, but for another, as you said, I’m sure the whole shindig will be repeated later. And for sure, it will be hashed over … and over … and over by commentators … along with “relevant” replays.

    I will be SO GLAD when this man is out of office!!! If for no other reason than to not be bombarded with “everything Trump.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like you, I have serious doubts that it will garner anywhere near the attention Nixon’s impeachment hearings, or even Clinton’s did, and I think Nan hit the nail on the head when she said that we are so bombarded with everything Trump does or says that people are just getting sick of it all. However, I do agree with you that it’s important and I wish it would gain the attention of the public. This is too important for people to ignore. And yes, the partisan divide in this nation is an abomination. It ensures that nothing will be accomplished by our federal government, and it likely ensures that Trump will not be removed from office by an impeachment trial, but we must still try, for he is the single most corrupt president we have ever had, bar none. Sigh. Great post, Jeff!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Jill, as always. It’s funny, I don’t remember the Clinton debacle as much as the Nixon one. Was the Clinton charade on all the major networks too? I sure don’t remember it. Probably because I thought it was a sham from the very beginning, and the fact I was working full time as well. You’re right though. Many people are just sick and tired of hearing about Trump, you and me included. But you and I will watch because we do care. It is history. And, I also want to see these people in person. I want to see them, and contrast them to the guy who this impeachment is all about. Good, decent, and honorable public servants vs. HIM. Has there ever been a more clear contrast between what is good for our country, and what isn’t? Not in my eyes…..

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Jeff, Clinton’s impeachment was due to his lying under oath. If he had come clean about his most recent affair, it would not have gotten that far. It also tickles me to hear Newt Gingrich opine has he was having an affair which led to his divorce while accusing Clinton. Clinton will be remembered as a good president due to economic success and balancing the budget, but he was a philanderer.

        Nixon did some good things – opening China and creating the EPA – but his paranoia made him into a crook. Over 20 comrades went to jail.

        We should not forget the people who have pled guilty and/ or gone to jail who worked with Trump, with one on trial today. As I have noted before based on my reading and news watching, Trump is the most untruthful and corrupt president in my lifetime, and that includes Nixon. It saddens me to feel this way. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So true Keith. I liked Clinton, but he was an idiot for doing what he did. It will permanently besmirch his time in office. I think you and I are roughly the same age. Both of us know that Trump is by far, the worst in our lifetimes. Impeachment is both deserved, and warranted. He’s earned it

        Like

      3. I think, given that there was no lack of evidence, the House hearings didn’t amount to much, but it was televised, I’m fairly certain, and I know the trial in the Senate was, for I remember watching part of that. It was a sham … I mean, relative to all the things that Trump has done, lying to Congress, while not right, seems almost like stealing an apple from a street vendor compared to robbing a bank and killing all the tellers! I plan to watch some of the hearings this week, but I simply don’t have time to watch the entire thing, so to some extent I’ll be relying on briefings and newsletters I get daily. I just hope they can come up with enough hard evidence to convince at least 20 republican senators, but I’m doubtful, for now they are basically saying, “Yeah, he did that, but so what?” Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Tomorrow begins the public phase of the impeachment process and it will be widely televised. But, will anybody be watching? Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters ponders this, and his words are astute and well worth sharing. Thank you, Jeff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeff, good post. Americans should pay attention. The president has been credibly accused by well-respected diplomats and staff who have risked a great deal coming forward, especially in light of the accused’s vindictive nature. They deserve to be heard. It is a disservice to them, us and our democracy to play games and distract from the seriousness of purpose.

    Sadly, what the president has been accused of has been a long time modus operandi of his predating the presidency. While on a larger platform, using fear, bullying, exaggeration and untruthfulness have long been in his bag of tricks per his five biographers and financial reporters who covered him. One thing which should not be downplayed, is the president has never reported to anyone besides his father. It is a key reason he acts as if rules don’t apply to him. When no one says no to him, he feels impunity to do more.

    The impeachment hearings may damage the Dems, but it must be done to hold the president to account. And, if the evidence is indicting, the senate needs to have seriousness of purpose. Keith

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you Keith, and thank you. It’s definitely a risk, politically, for the Dems. But they’ve got to do it. We can’t let him get away with this. He’ll likely survive in Senate, but will be stamped with this scarlet letter forever. That’s enough for me right there. And if Republicans allow him to continue? Long term, it hurts them. I really believe that.

      Like

      1. Jeff, thanks. The Republicans have already damaged their party. Trump’s GOP numbers remain high partly because many left the party. Plus, there are now twenty GOP Congresspeople not running in 2020 and that is after the mid-terms in 2018.

        Dems are not perfect, but I am highly disappointed in the GOP which I left 12 years ago. Gerrymandering and tailored news have created a more extreme GOP which is unfortunate. We need more collaboration, not less. This goes for both parties. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll be watching some, recording some and getting the highlights from the nightly news and others.
    It is important, not necessarily to watch it all, but to care what happens to our country and the future generations. A lot is at stake.

    But most people won’t watch and many work and go out after work past the news hour. And the divide in this country is already long set. This will not change anyone’s view of trump. It’s right there in front of everyone for those who chose to see the truth or those who deny the truth while feeding off the lies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right Mary. After nearly three years, I think most people’s opinion on Trump are cemented. I doubt if anything moves the needle much. I hope people at least listen and watch these people….not the pundits who will make this all about who won, Dems or R’s? That’s my hope anyway

      Liked by 1 person

  7. In a criminal courtroom, there are two basic sides–those who believe what the witnesses say, and those who do not believe what the witnesses say. If a preponderance of the jurors believe what are presented as facts, they then get to bully those who don’t until there is a unanimous consent one way or the other.
    This impeachment inquiry is nothing like a criminal case, although it ought to be. Almost everyone taking part in it has already made up their minds. Anti-Trumpers know his actions are impeachable. Pro-Trumpers don’t care, they will refuse to impeach.
    I have said all along this impeachment proceeding needs to be carried out. The facts have to go on record. And the unwillingness of the Republicans to even consider those facts also has to be put on record. Trump may not disappear, and it may take awhile, but the Republican Party will disappear.The coming generations will judge them, given the continuation of the USA as a nation. Today’s politicians and their supporters are going to disappear, but they will not be forgotten. Trump and his cronies are a dying breed. Their inability to govern on behalf of the people will cost them in the long run. Sooner will be better than later.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. History shows that the incumbent usually wins and the democrats don’t really have anyone in the lead that is very popular.

        For all their talk of diversity, the three leads are three old white people, well, 4, if Hillary decides to run again which I’ve read is a possibility.

        that doesn’t exactly give them good optics on the diversity front or the party that cares about the middle class since those same 4 candidates are rich political insiders.

        No wonder I don’t take anything these people say seriously. it’s because their hypocrisy severely overshadows what little credibility they bring to the table in the first place.

        Remember, this is coming from someone who thinks Trump, though an outsider, which in itself is refreshing, is a liar, doesn’t do himself any favors at all by stupidly tweeting almost every second of every day and betrayed his nation at the Helsinki summit in 2018 by not siding with our intelligence community.

        Like

      1. Isn’t that the truth? They’ll do whatever they can to prop him up. The line of questioning seemed to be…well, so what? They got the aid, what’s the big deal? But the fact is, these two men were credible..truthful…and had no axe to grind. I don’t think they laid a hand on either one of them. Dems need to keep pressing the point: Attempted extortion or bribery is still a crime and an abuse of power. Just because they got the aid doesn’t mean a thing. He tried to get them to do this…for that. And it was only to help HIM. Those are the facts. They hate facts…as you know!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. We in the UK sit here on the sidelines. Currently this is not attracting as much attention as it usually would due to our General Election process.
    Where this finally settles would be hard to say. Both Nixon’s and the attempt to do the same to Clinton were conduct in a sort of mid-term atmosphere.
    This will run directly into The Presidential Election process. He may well survive this. He may well even scrap through to a second term….However where the USA goes from there is quite another matter.
    The divides will grow and so will the disillusionment.
    One thing will not….Apathy. There is a lot of rage building up, normally the democratic process acts as a safety valve. As long as Trump or other poster boys as shoved to the front by the Right this can no longer be guaranteed.
    The tidal forces of Humanity which shape and also sunder apart nations are always at work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Roger! Yes, the election is now less than a year away. The Democrats want this over and done with by the turn of the calendar. And rightly so, because the Democratic primary season will begin and by then, most people will simply say we’d rather just beat him in November. Right now, it’s moving quickly. I can see a vote in December. At that point, the Republican Party will have to decide that bribing and extorting a foreign government for personal gain is ok for future presidents…even Democratic ones. I think you and I both know what choice they will make. I hope I’m wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They will most likely find some turns of phrase to argue why they are backing him.
        And 50,000,000+ devoteds followers will shout ‘Amen! Deliver us from the satanic legions of the Democrats!’
        How the rest of the voting population will feel about that remains to be seen.
        The important thing is that however wins the Democratic Primary everyone gets behind them….Remember ‘A House Divided…’

        Liked by 1 person

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