Thomas Jefferson once said of Patrick Henry that he “spoke as Homer wrote.” The majestic, epic lines of that Ancient Greek poet have rolled across the centuries in phrases of thunder like the organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach – to inspire, astonish and occasionally convict. No less Homeric were the words of Adam Schiff in summarizing the depredations of the arch villain in the Oval Office.
If Schiff was Homeric we must invent a new word for the Republican Senators – McCarthic. For it was with the calculating, disparaging, duplicitous idioms of Joseph McCarthy that Republicans have disingenuously advanced the case for the indefensible Donald Trump. Like McCarthy, Senate Republicans were lazy, and you can decide for yourself the reason. Was it because they knew they didn’t have to work hard to protect their lord and master, or because they knew that their labors could not be inspired by a thing they knew to be fundamentally wrong? Whatever the case, Schiff asked, in essence, the same question of senate Republicans that Joseph Nye Welch asked of Joseph McCarthy, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” As with McCarthy, the answer that will come on Wednesday will almost certainly be “No.”
The final verdict of history on McCarthy took time. It may surprise some of you to learn that the final institution known as McCarthyism in the form of the House Unamerican Activity Committee (HUAC) and its antecedents did not formally pass away until January of 1975. From the standpoint of history, justice delayed is not always justice denied. As Schiff put it, “History will not be kind to Donald Trump. Not because it will be written by ‘never Trumpers,’ but because whenever we have departed from the values of our nation we have come to regret it. And that regret is written all over the pages of our history.” Indeed, those pages reek of the blood of Native Americans, they are fouled by the inhumanity of slavery and embarrassed by the unjust persecutions of McCarthyism. One day, Adam Schiff assures us, history will only remember the Republicans in the room by the vote they cast on Wednesday.
“If you find that the House has proved its case,” Schiff continued, “and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history. But if you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath. If only you will say, ‘Enough!’”
From the very start Adam Schiff’s odyssey has been a search for truth. His position has always been to let the facts speak for themselves, that innocent people are never afraid of truth. Truth is available and should be obvious to all Senators of either party, and their votes on Wednesday will reflect the true sincerity of that belief. “America believes in a thing called Truth, Schiff continued. “She does not believe we are entitled to our own ‘alternate facts.’ She recoils at those who spread pernicious falsehoods. To her, truth matters, there is nothing more corrosive to democracy than the idea that there is no truth.”
So prophesied Adam Schiff of blind justice in the sonorous tones of blind old Homer, that the ineluctable unanimous verdict of history is coming for any Republican Senators who acquit Donald Trump, a judgement against which there can be no rehabilitation. Some of those Senators are young enough that they will live to see it for themselves, they will see at last that Donald Trump is the Darkness, reaching out for the Darkness, and it will be in his name and for his sake that their painstakingly-contrived reputations will be shredded to tatters and cast into the wine-dark sea.