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#Thread It will be a bit of an historic week, with the beginning of open hearings on #impeachment. Here's some things I've learned that might help you make sense of them.
2/ My job during the Clinton #impeachment hearings involved sitting in a newsroom with TVs on for many hours every every day. It was an experience that was both fascinating and dyspeptic.
3/ I'd leave work each day with the same thought: "It's not about the sex! It's about the lying!!!" It was unbelievably frustrating to watch members of Congress, who you KNOW know better than this, make tons of bad-faith arguments.
4/ I've never had much of a taste for grandstanding and cocky posturing. This was some of the worst I'd seen. Both parties were guilty of this. It is not a partisan thing - the losing side makes the crappier arguments, generally.
5/ In some ways, the arguments were like a substantial slap in the face to reason herself. (And for you religious folks in the back, that's wisdom to you, and a lot of scripture is about that, so you don't get a pass on this. It WILL be on the test.)
6/ Three crappy arguments you can expect are attacks of the person, calling someone a hypocrite and distractions. We've already seen them in spades, and you, the audience, need to get better at #DetectingDeception.
7/ Pro-tip: You may know fancy Latin names for these. I don't recommend using them. It has a tendency to let people shift the argument to "Did she use the Latin name correctly" or "Only stuck-up eggheads talk like that." You've been warned.
8/ Anyway, attacking the person is trying to say that someone's statement must be wrong because of who they are. It can just be name-calling. Cheeto. Shifty. Griftanka. Nervous. These are obvious, desperate distractions.
9/ It can be more subtle. "Can someone who spent the first 3 years of their life in another country really be a loyal American? Just asking..." This is a similar, bad argument strategy.
10/ People who mostly do very bad things can have good ideas at times. We don't live in a world of cartoon villains. Ignore the attacks and look at the idea itself. Is there evidence to support it? (As a Mom, I'd say ignore the name-calling. It just makes the bully look bad)
11/ Hypocrisy. These accusations are EVERYWHERE. Tweeters haul out of video of previous #impeachment hearings and meme them. Pundits and presidents are desperately saying "But there might be corruption elsewhere. No one wants to talk about that."
12/ It's like when two kids are fighting and one says "Mom, Jenny stayed out after curfew" and the other says "Oh, yeah, well Nestor took $20 out of your wallet." If you are a parent, you know you investigate both allegations and they may both be grounded.
13/ The fact that a bad thing may exist doesn't make the other bad thing not count. Poor Reason is staggering around under the weight of these many blows. Hypocrites may have made bad choices, but that doesn't mean they are always wrong.
14/ If one matter has already been settled, yes, it's tedious to have to refute things again and again, but a simple "The evidence doesn't support that" is really all it takes.
15/ Finally, distractions. You see this in the procedural arguments. Open hearings. Closed hearings. Staff questions. Member questions. Time limits. Societies make rules to help us work together well. We also use those rules as weapons sometimes.
16/ People throw out distractions in hopes that we'll all shift to discussing the distracting thing instead of the real problem. Pro-tip: when all they are arguing about is procedure, either there's no support in the main issue or they are bad at arguing.
17/ Finally, are these arguments gross? You bet. Are they going to happen? Probably. Should you be upset that grown-ups who know better are using playground tactics to get their way? Sure. I know I am.
18/ But you have a part to play. First you have to pay attention. Second, you have to correctly identify the important matter. Are we having these hearings to identify who is unnaturally orange or who is shifty? If not, what ARE we considering.
19/ Third, YOU have to be an advocate for reason. When you talk to other people and they say "Yes, but other corruption," you have to say "Other corruption would be bad, but that's not what we're talking about now."
20/ If they say "The hearing procedure isn't fair," you have to say "Are they getting witnesses to talk about what they saw? What do we learn from what they said?"
21/ #Impeachment hearings are a big, big deal. They don't seek to undo an election, but rather to make sure your government today is capable of serving its citizens. Public hearings are designed to sway public opinion. That's you. Make sure you decide based on what matters.
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