Schiff’s stature grows with inquiry leadership
It’s been quite the wild ride the past two weeks. I’ve weighed in with my thoughts throughout this impeachment inquiry. So many things have stood out—the patriotic testimony of career public servants, the continued obstruction by the President of the United States, and the sycophantic performances of the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, to name a few.
But something else also stood out as well. While I’ve gotten to know a bit more about House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff the last couple of years, his stewardship over the hearings was beyond stellar, in my view. The contrast between himself and the Ranking Member, Devin Nunes, couldn’t have been more stark. His steely resolve and iron-willed determination differed mightily from the conspiracy theorist and Trump boot-licker Nunes.
Time and again, Republicans attacked his leadership, as well as the rules he set down before the hearings began. We saw them continually objecting and calling for “point of order, Mr. Chairman,” only to see Schiff gavel them into submission. He wasn’t going to take their crap, and we knew who was in charge.
At some point during this process, though, I started to think of Schiff differently, especially after yesterday’s closing statements. I’m beginning to think we might be seeing a future President of the United States.
I’m not sure where he stands on that issue, but it’s a good bet he’s at least thinking about it. Since the election of Trump, Schiff’s profile has only grown. Until 2018, he was the Ranking Member of the committee he now chairs, and Nunes was the guy in charge. But once the Democrats won back control of the House, Schiff took over.
And let’s just put it out there that Schiff loves the cameras and the attention. Whether that’s a good thing or bad, I’m not sure, but he certainly is a known quantity these days. He’s a high profile politician who’s now one of Trump’s primary targets for insults and character assassinations. The right-wing media folks are in lock-step with Trump in how they go after Schiff.
The man doesn’t shutter from the big stage, though. He has well over a million followers on Twitter, and his responses to Trump are funny, pointed, and sharp. He’s the ultimate antagonist. It’s Schiff’s calm and intelligent demeanor versus Trump’s narcissistic bombast. Liberal talk-show host, Stephanie Miller, puts it best when she refers to Schiff as “the smooth jazz congressman.” I’ve been thinking about how that would play out if Schiff were running against him in 2020. Would that not be the ultimate showdown?
But, it’s not going to happen this time. We’re too late in the game, and besides, Schiff has a lot more work to do: impeaching the President. This thing is about to get hot—real hot.
As if on cue, though, I came across an article and interview with Schiff from Los Angeles Magazine by Bryan Smith. There’s much about Schiff that I didn’t know, and the post gives you a real sense of who he is and what makes him tick. I’ve provided a link here.
Here are a few things you may or may not have known about Schiff, courtesy of the LA Magazine piece:
*Age-59 years old, born June 22, 1960, in Framingham, Massachusetts
*His father Ed was a post-WW11 Army Veteran and traveling salesman/businessman
*His mother Sherri wrote ad copy and was in real estate profession
*His father was a staunch Franklin D. Roosevelt supporter and long-time Democrat; his mother came from a long line of prominent Republicans
*He moved to Arizona with the family in 1970; two years later they moved to Northern California
*He earned a B.A in Political Science from Stanford in 1982; and a law degree from Harvard-1985
*He worked for the U.S Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, securing the first-ever espionage conviction against an FBI agent—long considered a landmark case.
*He lost his first two elections for the California Assembly; he won his third in 1996 for State Senate
*He was elected to Congress in 2001; recently elected to his tenth term
*He was a mentor in Big Brother
*He briefly spent time as a Forest Service firefighter
*He wrote a never-produced screenplay about his relationship with brother Daniel called Common Wall; now he writes spy thrillers
*He does a yearly stand-up comedy routine as part of a Democratic fundraiser
*He’s considered a political moderate with a propensity for bi-partisanship
*He’s been married since 1995 to Eve Sanderson(yes, Adam and Eve!). They have two children
Rising to the occasion
To be clear, earlier this year, I’d found myself a bit frustrated with how Schiff was handling his job as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. In my piece, I wrote how I thought the Democrats were looking weak and had lost the narrative to Trump and the Republicans. I was looking for some anger and passion. Subpoenas were ignored, and Trump won a reprieve from Robert Mueller–things were looking bleak.
It all changed, however, on July 25 with the infamous Trump phone call to the newly elected President of Ukraine. Soon, a whistleblower would come forward, and here we are, looking straight in the face of impeachment for the 45th President of the United States. And Schiff is leading the charge with a performance worthy of Hollywood, which ironically happens to sit squarely within the district he represents.
I’m not sure how a Schiff presidential run would look to the rest of America. One down-side, not to me, but those on the right, would be his connection to the so-called ‘Hollywood elites.” You know they’d exploit that for all they could, and if he ever won the nomination, we’d see ads 24/7 projecting him in that manner. But who knows? He’s still a young man, at least in terms of his political viability. He’s got plenty of time to enter the fray if he decides to do so.
Finally, in the LA Magazine piece, Schiff touches upon the theme I mentioned above, that he’s a little too measured, that he doesn’t show enough passion. He brought up a good point, however. He admits that he cannot be who he’s not, as a person. It would come across as fake. “I’ve never tried to be anything other than what I am, so I tell those who are looking for someone more incendiary there are lots of other choices,” he said.
But, there is also an advantage to this style. When Schiff does show anger, people pay far more attention. “If you’re not angry all the time,” he said, “then people do notice when you are. And it tends to have more of an impact.”
And that, my friends, is what we saw yesterday in his closing statement. With moistening eyes and a flushed face, you could tell he was pissed. He took apart the Republican defenses, one by one, exhibiting the prosecutorial skills he learned over twenty-five years ago.
He was right. When he gets angry, you do feel it more. He commanded the room with the kind of resolve you’d want from the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, especially the one who’s leading the charge to impeach the President.
He certainly made an impression on me, and I don’t think I’m alone in that assessment. Does he have the bona fides to be President? I have to admit; he’s growing on me.