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By Tony Morrison, our US Correspondent.
18th November 2019
The second series of Impeachment! opened this week on Netflix and this one promises to be the best one yet. The first series of course started slowly but built up a head of steam with the last dramatic Mueller episode. Season 2 promises to take the drama to new heights.
As with Season 1, the core premise of a President winning an election by the dubious means of people voting for him, and then getting undermined by the forces of those who believe in different ways of deciding elections, remains. And once again we see the same surprise twist where the villainous President emerges victorious due to the fact that his opponents have no case except for the fact that Trump is President and we can’t have that. Although this twist has been done to death in all episodes, it is done so well that the audience is yet to be sick of so much winning.
Season 1 opened in December, 2017, with Impeachment: Dissing The NFL! When the President ranks on some NFL players who chose to kneel rather than stand for the National Anthem before NFL games, all hell breaks loose as Congressman Al Green, a stalwart defender of folks insulting the flag, springs into action and advances articles of impeachment in the House. In fact he throws everything he can find into the articles including citing Trump calling wacky Congresswoman Frederica Wilson “wacky,” not just once, but three times.
The episode ends on a down note with most Democrats joining Republicans and voting against bringing impeachment articles on the grounds that Al Green is batshit mental.
A month later, Impeachment: In The Shithole! hit Netflix. Al Green was back, and after licking his wounds somewhat, continued his quest. The script remains true to the archetypes set up in the first episode, but tries a different tack. This time it concerns the President’s discussion of immigration reforms. Trump is reported as saying the US should give preference to immigrants from non-dystopian countries like some Asian countries, as opposed to “shithole nations” like Haiti. But second verse same as the first. The episode ends on a downer as Al Green is somewhat at a loss to try and explain why this is an impeachable offense, and once again loses horribly when bringing up his impeachment articles in the House.
Another Congressperson, Rashiba Tlaib, then takes over the main role in the next episode Impeachment: The Ranger Won’t Like It! Tlaib is upset to discover that during a Government spending shutdown, Trump Hotel in Washington is the only place in the entire USA where Park Rangers are being deployed. With this obvious abuse of power Tlaib springs into action.
This is a departure for the series as it is played as comedy, and not a drama. First the bumbling Tlaib finds out that Trump Hotel is an historic building and is only leased from its owners the Federal Government. And then the fun goes into high gear when it is revealed that the building has an historic clock tower controlled by Park Rangers and has to be staffed all the time by law, Government shutdown or no.
Next up was Impeachment: Mean To The Ladies! The plot this time sees the President daring to send insulting tweets to a group of four heroines (Rashida Tlaib and three other Congresswomen collectively called The Squad making a cameo appearance) merely because they insult him 24/7. Big Al is back at it again with the same result, and the episode ends with a mournful rendition of “Ain’t no sunshine in my life.”
The series really amps up the drama in the end of season instalment with Impeachment: Revenge Of The Mueller! and this time we had a brand new type of hero. Top Cop Mueller, an amalgam of Inspector Javert and Sherlock Holmes, relentlessly pursues the President for doing something called “colluding with Russia” which apparently lead him to win the 2016 Presidential election, as opposed to the votes of the American people.
However, after two years Mueller issued a report that stated that far from colluding with the Russians, the only person in Washington DC not colluding with the Russians seems to have been Trump. After the one-dimensional Al Green character in the first three episodes, this Mueller was a revelation. His fall from Washington super-hero to incompetent bungler, who loses all Washington privileges with the elites, is a fascinating story arc rendered well by a superb performance from Mueller. One for the ages.
In addition, the trope of having the impeachment backfiring spectacularly on all who bought it was really examined this time. Instead of just one guy showing himself up for riding the crazy train, the episode shows all of Washington, the Democrat Party and their handmaidens in the media conspiring to bring nonexistent charges and then looking like idiots when Mueller was not able to deliver.
Netflix was so pleased with the first season that they are now busy developing an entire franchise. They have already come up with the spin-off Impeachment: Supreme Court! The first episode, Kavanaugh – Impeach Before You Appoint! did well and plans call for another one, maybe as soon as next year.
(Warning – Spoiler Alert)
And so to Season 2’s first episode Impeachment: It Was Ukraine All Along! The same framework exists, but more interesting characters are introduced. The introduction is nothing short of brilliant. It shows the New York Times daily editorial meeting a few days after the end of the Mueller episode. The various sub-editors are totally devastated as three years of work are down the drain. One of them just loses it: “Well that’s just great! Now what are we supposed to do? Game over, man! Game over!” Supreme Editorial Overlord, Dean Baquet, tries to rally them saying the Times will now go all in on racism, not impeachment, with their 1619 campaign.
This puts back the founding of the USA to 1619 when the first slaves were landed on these shores, as opposed to 1776 when the country was founded in the eyes of, well everyone outside the Times. Baquet points out that 1619 is sub-titled “USA has always been irredeemably racist so Trump should not be President.” However, the scene ends with the editorial gang not looking all that convinced.
But then the action immediately shifts to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi eerily emerging from the shadows to address the House Dems with an inspiring speech pointing out that Russia may be a non-starter but what about any surrounding countries? Surely the President was messing about with them in some awful ways yet to be determined?
The hero, Adam Schiff, who gives a truly astonishing performance as an oleaginous unscrupulous lying Washington swamp-dweller, then steps up and points out he knows a whistleblower who heard that Trump was up to no good with Ukraine from someone in the White House lunch room who heard it from a janitor who heard it from overhearing a passing comment in the hallways from folks who may or may not have been involved with Ukrainian foreign policy. Pelosi then anoints Schiff as the new head of impeachment and so the story begins.
Our hero begins to get to the bottom of the President’s naughtiness. After spending much time running a secret investigation in a secret basement deep in the heart of Congress, Schiff emerges with the theory that Trump has engaged in a “quid pro quo” with the new Ukraine President, Volodomyr Zelensky. He will give him the military aid and a White House visit in return for Ukraine digging up whatever dirt they have on Biden, a potential opponent in the 2020 election. The fact that all concrete evidence such as published phone transcripts and Ukrainain senior Government officials like the President himself saying categorically it did not happen, shows the theory is nonsense does not deter our hero. He has better evidence to present – hearsay evidence! The House then finally votes to begin an impeachment investigation.
The investigation opens and tension rises as a parade of State Department witnesses in the first week present evidence which is immediately discounted by the fact that none were witnesses to anything relevant, and are only there because they heard it from someone else or inferred it from the actions of others. There is a good reason why hearsay evidence as a general rule is not valid in a real court of law, and the investigation masterfully reveals why.
Also, the real reason as to why the whole Ukrainian thing was whispered in the ears of the Dems is gradually revealed. The State Department is resentful of the fact that the President is in charge of foreign policy and is in the process of seriously changing it. And so all their pent-up three-year-old grievances become testimony – “we are in charge of foreign policy, he ignored us, he questions why we are giving aid to a corrupt country, he fired us, etc. etc.” Irony abounds of course as in all good drama. The President is being investigated under a process outlined in the Constitution. But his opponents in the first week are only accusing him of daring to use the powers explicitly given to him by the Constitution.
This is a two-parter and the first instalment ends on a cliffhanger in the last scene. The Dems are shown counting their losses after the disastrous first week of testimony. They bemoan the anaemic ratings for what should be the Trial Of The Century, the derisive laughter of the American people, the absolute disastrous internal polling they have done on their impeachment process and the verdict of the stock market on their investigation as it explodes to all-time highs.
But all is not lost as they concoct a wonderful new way to paper over the fact they have no case. They believe they are explaining it all wrong. None of the rubes in America apparently understands a “quid pro quo,” especially those in the flyover states who do not have the benefit of hanging out with the erudite Latinate coastal elites. The fact that “quid pro quo” is one of about 50 Latin expressions in use all the time in English, even ones the Dems might be very familiar with such as “ad nauseum” or “mea culpa,” does not seem to have occurred to them. So they will now use the term “bribery;” yeah, that should do it.
The trailers for Part 2 are very exciting. The Dems are shown trying to decide to throw in the towel or actually impeach and turn the impeachment trial over to the Senate.
Meanwhile a brand new character, Senate Majority Leader Cocaine Mitch (O’Connell), is shown with a mischievous grin on his face saying “If they impeach we’ll have to hold a trial in the Senate which could take years. We’ll be calling every single witness we can to testify over and over about the bad behavior of Democrats. And it’ll be a right shame if the trial stops all the five senators running for the Democratic Presidential nomination from campaigning. Bless their hearts.” The famed whistleblower makes a dramatic appearance, but only as a mysterious dark shape played by newcomer, Eric Ciaramella.
Of course we all know how it is going to end – Trump still President, Dems with serious egg on their faces – but it’s the getting there that really holds the interest.
It looks like Netflix is going all in on political series. A new one called Winning Elections! will now be scheduled sometime in the next few months. Early buzz says it will be about a presidential candidate who is constantly vilified by the media, Washington elites and the entire spectrum of all liberal folks across the US. Despite numerous plots and conspiracies against him and his own deeply flawed nature, the candidate wins any election he contends. The twist is he wins not just due to advocating policies that resonate with Americans, but also as a reaction to the demented behaviour of his opponents.
2020 promises to be a good year for entertainment!