Less than a week into the Biden presidency, with an ongoing pandemic, haphazard and insufficient vaccine rollout, and a looming second impeachment of former president Donald Trump, “our political system is currently overloaded way beyond its capacity”, said Seth Meyers on Late Night. “It’s like a power strip with way too many things plugged in. We already got the TV, Roku, printer, modem, iPad, instapot, immersion blender, Christmas tree and toaster plugged in, and now we need to find room for the sleep apnea machine.”
Top of mind is the impeachment trial for Trump for inciting insurrection, for which Trump’s depending on “servile, morally bankrupt Republicans falling in line”, Meyers said, “and judging from comments they made over the weekend, the GOP is fully on board”.
Meyers rifled through a slew of arguments made by congressional Republicans against impeachment. Kentucky Sen Rand Paul, for example, refused to confirm that the election was not stolen, instead deferring: “What I would say is that the debate over whether or not there was fraud should occur.”
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, called impeachment “stupid” because “we already have a flaming fire in this country and it’s like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire”.
“Man, they’re throwing everything at the wall,” Meyers said. “‘Impeachment will stir up the country, the election was stolen, we all bear some responsibility’ – it’s like getting pulled over with a giant plume of marijuana smoke in the car and telling the cop, ‘I think it’s the exhaust pipe, and it is legal in several states, and I only started smoking when you pulled me over because that gave me severe anxiety.’”
Meyers took particular issue with Rubio’s argument against an impeachment trial that would “stir up” the country. “You guys already did the stirring; you don’t get to pretend everything’s just fine now,” he said. “Violent seditionists and white supremacists and militia members stormed the Capitol building and tried to overthrow democracy. We have to do something about that so it doesn’t happen again, and instead Republican leaders are talking about Trump’s base the way park rangers talk about bears on a campground – ‘Don’t make eye contact, move away slowly, and if worst comes to worst, let him eat your hot dogs.’”
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah tore into Republican arguments against impeachment, starting with the claim that impeachment of a former president was worthless. “This is one of the most ridiculous arguments ever. Trump committed crimes on his way out of the door,” Noah said. “So what, people just have to let it go? That policy doesn’t exist anywhere else. If you get fired at Best Buy, they don’t just let you steal a TV on the way out.”
“In fact, you could argue that you have to convict Trump, because if there’s no consequences for trying to overthrow the government, then every president will just try it on their way out of office,” he added.
Noah then zeroed in on the line presented by the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who told MSNBC: “I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility” and blamed the liberal #resist movement for the Trump mob that attacked the Capitol.
“This is unbelievable,” Noah said. “The GOP is supposed to be the party of personal responsibility. Isn’t that their thing? But as soon as their members do something wrong, they start talking like Buddhists – ‘when you think of the oneness of all things, then Donald Trump is as guilty as the blooming flower or the flowing river. If we convict Trump, we must convict nature herself.’”
And on the Late Show, Stephen Colbert anticipated the impeachment trial, which the Senate delayed for two weeks – Democrats want President Biden to fill his cabinet and begin work on his agenda, while Republicans want to give the former president time to prepare his defense. “That’s right, Rudy Giuliani needs time to eat a big bowl of chili and load up on head juice,” joked Colbert.
Colbert also picked apart Republican talking points against impeachment. Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, for example, said impeachment was a “moot point” because “Donald Trump is no longer the president, he is a former president.” “So, you just want him to get off scot free for insurrection because he’s no longer in power?” Colbert retorted. “That’s like acquitting Jeffrey Dahmer because he’s full.”
As for Rubio’s comments that “we already have a flaming fire in this country and it’s like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire” Colbert had little patience. “Oh it’s a flaming fire, you stupid idiot?” he said. “But you don’t want to hold the arsonist accountable because you’re afraid you’ll be primaried by the kindling.”
Yet there was one Republican who “hasn’t pawned his moral compass”, Colbert said: the Utah senator Mitt Romney, who told CNN that Trump’s incitement of the rioters was an impeachable offense. “Good for Romney,” Colbert deadpanned. “He has found the courage to break ranks with his Republican colleagues and take the bold stance that trying to murder us is bad.”