Senate Democrats decision to forego witnesses earlier this afternoon came as a jolt, inexplicable and maddening, to many or most Democrats outside the chamber because Democrats appeared to hold all the cards and all the votes and yet capitulated entirely. The final decision was simply to enter Rep. Herrera Beutler’s statement into the record and move on.
Before getting to what this means let me be candid and tell you that through most of this trial and what led up to it I’ve been ambivalent about calling witnesses. In the abstract of course you should call witnesses. But we’re not living in the abstract. The national interest and the Democrats’ partisan interests rests overwhelmingly on rapidly passing a bold COVID relief bill to end the Pandemic and resurrect the economy.
That is not needed simply in the direct sense of getting shots in arms and dollars in hands. Coming out of the moral and civic catastrophe of the last four years it is critical to vindicate the idea that people’s votes, their electoral exertions can and will translate into tangible benefits in their lives. This is a Newtonian cause and effect with which civic life withers and dies or gives way to obscurantism and authoritarian temptation.
To the extent witnesses or an extended trial delayed that to more than a trivial degree, just push through the trial and get on to repairing the country. This is all the more the case since the chances of conviction are as infinitesimally small as the scope of the evidence is vast.