Witness

The new issue of the Weekly Standard is full of good and important article, among them Steve Hayes’s preview of the new David Zucker post-9/11 comedy “An American Carol” and Stanley Kurtz’s long reconstruction of “Barack Obama’s lost years.”

It would be easy to overlook Professor Jeremy Rabkin’s fascinating account of his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last month, but it should not be missed. Professor Rabkin opens his account:

I said the proceedings were “slightly demented.” I was being polite. I was one of two witnesses invited by the Republican members to testify at the House Judiciary Committee’s hearings on “executive power and constitutional limitations” on July 25. The event was more accurately described by one of the Republican committee members as “impeachment lite.”

The hearings brought out a whole gallery of Code Pink enthusiasts who, with giggling excitement, talked of the event among themselves as “the impeachment hearings.” Dennis Kucinich was one of the star attractions. He isn’t a member of the Judiciary Committee, but he got himself invited as a witness. There were four such congressmen in an initial panel. Kucinich then arranged to come back and participate in a second panel of outside experts.

Most Democrats on the committee showed up for at least part of the show. It went on for more than six hours, stretching into the late afternoon on a Friday, which only the most important hearings can do. The seating for “visitors” (that is, the cheering section) was full to the end. And to the end, the “visitors” provoked solemn reminders from Chairman John Conyers that they were breaking the rules by cheering, laughing, or hissing.

It was no honor to be there in the circumstances. The hearings were designed to showcase arguments of Bush critics–seven in all, in addition to the four congressmen who testified. Most had written books advocating impeachment or prosecution (or in one case, a truth-and-reconciliation commission). They would hold up their books for the C-SPAN camera at regular intervals.

Professor Rabkin does not explicitly make the case that the Democratic Party itself is “slightly demented,” not just the powerful Democrats and Democratic supporters in whose show Professor Rabkin played his part last month. But Professor Rabkin’s report more generallly illuminates the forces at play in the Democratic Party and accordingly deserves a close reading.

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