Summer entertainment is often – okay nearly always – devoid of…well, entertainment, especially TV, what with reruns, etc., even on the news shows. There's baseball, of course, and one can become entertained and educated as well in the art of spitting sunflower seeds all over the dugout, spitting Redman all over the pitcher's mound, scratching here and there on body parts, glaring (as of batter at ump), and how to afford a snack without mortgaging the farm (smuggle goodies into the stands). Okay, just kidding a bit about the baseball, though a pit stop at the bathroom is possible while some pitchers go through their between-pitch routines as babies and old codgers nod off.
There have been summers when the TV action was too good to miss. The Watergate matter in the summer of 1974 comes to mind – a reality show for current prez wannabe Fred Thompson – with its consequent Nixon resignation…marvelous TV. Then, there was the O.J. Simpson trial in summer 1995, with the greatest miscarriage of justice known to mankind…but unparalleled TV, complete with a judge who was on and off another planet at times in the process, or checking his many hourglasses, apparently mistrusting ordinary clocks, not to mention that the plethora of sidebars with the lawyers was actually interspersed with the trial proceedings instead of the other way around.
Of course, it would be hard to match the Iran-Contra hearings of summer 1987, with Ollie North and gang (the famous "potted plant" remark by North's lawyer), and this brings to mind the possibility of another hearing this summer, which, indeed, has already started, namely, the "out-to-get-Gonzales" hearing put on by a penultimate grandstander and entertainer, Senator Pat "Leaky" Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
It was during the Iran-Contra hearing that Leahy leaked a draft report on the Iran-Contra affair, leading to his resignation from the Intelligence Committee. Behavior like this earned for him the nickname" Leaky Leahy." So…Leahy is just the perfect role model of what a committee chairman should be – devious and crooked. In the 80s, he was also charged with revealing classified information during the Achille Lauro (cruise ship) terrorist incident. The terrorists killed a disabled American tourist, 69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer, and threw his body overboard, along with his wheelchair.
Since taking over the Congress in January – with Speaker Pelosi announcing that "things were now different" – the Congress has mostly held hearings (trying to hang republicans), at least as far as doing anything substantive is concerned. Not so strangely, her House Ethics Committee has not held a hearing on Congressman Jefferson, who was recently charged with taking bribes of hundreds of thousands and even having $90,000 stashed in his deep-freeze, thus giving a new meaning to the term "cold, hard cash." Over in the Senate, Leahy and his wolf-pack, including the likes of Kennedy, Biden, Feingold, Schumer, and Durbin, have tried mightily to nail Gonzales' hide to the wall, but to no avail.
The "no confidence" vote was supposed to mean something, but, of course, the prez had already nullified it by simply saying it meant nothing. In the process, ranking republican member Specter…well, made a specter of himself. Another summer hearing – although lasting only a few days – was held in September 2005, when Specter (this time, the chairman), "Leaky," and the wolf-pack were made to look silly by Chief Justice John Roberts, who, without notes or even a writing pad before him, cited cases and precedents like they were just printed in the paper that morning. His tormentors had piles of documents on their desks, while a multitude of aides delivered them gems of wisdom, but – alas – to no avail, as Roberts politely gave them the fifth-grade treatment. A few months later, Justice Alito gave them about the same treatment, thus traumatizing them to such an extent that Feingold, Kennedy, and Schumer were seen frothing at the mouth.
Now, "Leaky" and the Keystone Kops are busily subpoenaing White House aides, figuring that maybe they'll wilt and admit that Gonzales gave them Hershey bars to help them conveniently forget the facts. The alternative to committee hearings is actual work toward actual objectives, but the dems can't produce an immigration bill and had to take a horrific licking by the prez on the funds-for-war thing…so what's a Congress to do – conduct hearings, of course. The entire Congress, including republicans, is up in arms over the illegal guys picking oranges in California, when the truth is that they neglected their much self-ballyhooed "oversight" responsibilities by never demanding that existing laws be enforced for years. They've obviously been too mesmerized by those tantalizing "earmark" opportunities. Egad!
The prez may have learned a lesson when he threw "Brownie" under the bus over the "Katrina/FEMA affair." He also let Rumsfeld go, but at least Rummie had a lot of years in the job. The Katrina Hearings (famous in the House since the democrats didn't participate) produced the startling fact that FEMA-chief Michael Brown did as well as could be expected under the circumstances, especially as impacted by two hopeless incompetents, the New Orleans mayor and the Louisiana governor. So…while the hearings may drone on and on, Gonzie, who gives the committee fits, will not go under the bus, and the beauty of the whole thing is that current summer TV may include a knockdown-drag-out fight between the Senate and the Executive Privilege gangs – a tasty bit of viewing for 2007 entertainment.