Over here in the United States there is, of course, endless talk of impeachment. It’s not clear what the Democrats really want, as the impeachment process used against both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton involved the House of Representatives holding a vote to impeach to kick things off. Once that takes place both political parties get subpoena powers. That most definitely has not happened in this instance. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Speaker of the House, has simply announced that an impeachment enquiry will take place. No vote, no subpoena powers for the Republicans. Plus, no vote means the three-odd dozen Democrat congressmen and women in districts that voted for Trump don’t have to go on the record, something they really, really want to avoid.
Still, the asymmetry is startling because the Democrats, who have the majority in the House, most definitely do have subpoena powers under this one-sided new Pelosi arrangement. And thus far they’re holding all the enquiry hearings in secret, refusing even to reveal who the so-called ‘whistleblower’ is or to allow him (or her) to testify in public – and be cross-examined. Apparently Pelosi learned her ‘how to treat an accused’ procedures at the feet of Henry VIII because this gives a Star Chamber a good run for its money.
The fact every Republican voter and senator can see as much, together with the strong suspicion that this all smacks of trying to keep Trump away from the voters for fear he’ll win, makes me think that this impeachment ‘process’ will end up helping The Donald, not hurting him. And for what it’s worth, remembering that I predicted he’d win last time, I think Mr Trump’s odds are significantly better this time around. Back then he had half the campaign money of Hillary, this time he is massively out-raising the Democrats; the economy is booming; he’s looking like getting a bigger share of the black and hispanic vote than any Republican in ages; more and more Americans are coming to the view that the media skews overwhelmingly to the left and favours the Democrats – and so just ignores it. Think back to how almost no newspaper or TV network plumped for Trump last time and then realise the sense of their one-sidedness has only increased.
But speaking of media bias let me move away from the President for a moment and talk sports, a subject I love. The biggest story over here the last week or so wasn’t the travails of Mr Trump. No, instead it was the National Basketball League and its relationship with China. Here’s the story in a nutshell: a top executive with the Houston Rockets franchise (whose star player is James Harden) tweeted out a few dozen words in support of the Hong Kong protestors. Then all hell broke loose, as this is the NBA pre-season and some games had been lined up in China. The NBA immediately kicked into gear in the way today’s woke corporations do and issued an apology, even getting the same Houston Rockets’ executive to issue a bizarre and vomit-inducing ‘this was all too complicated for me to have offered any sort of view’ type statement.
Worse, the sort of pontificating and sanctimonious top coaches like Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Greg Poppovich of San Antonio – men who have made it their life’s recent mission to unfailingly and relentlessly attack Trump at every press conference and on Twitter and whose teams refuse to visit the White House when they win – said the whole Hong Kong and China thing was too complicated for them to offer an opinion. ‘Above my pay grade’ was the gist of their responses when asked if, as self-described social activists, they had any comments on China and the NBA’s clamp down on anyone who suggests Xi Middle Kingdom may not be in same moral solar system as America (or galaxy, or universe).
Take it from me, these coaches were ridiculed for their hypocrisy. Trying to pretend you can moralise about a wall that encourages legal immigration, or about police behaviour, but you can’t find it in yourself to say anything about the million or so Uighurs in China who are brutally suppressed; or about the brutality of Chinese police; or you can’t find it in yourself to make even a half-hearted nod of support to the Hong Kong protesters, at least to their goals if not to the wisdom and prudence of their actions. Nothing. Even when it comes out that some of the NBA practice sessions were being held not all that far from prison camps for those in China who could use a bit of re-education, if you get my drift. That sort of hypocrisy is all too plain to anyone prepared to admit it, presumably those without a vested interest in making excuses or looking the other way.
Mr Trump, unrestrainable fighter that he is (which I like and which is needed on the right side of politics and which beats the ‘lie down and play dead’ attitude of most conservative leaders, Mr Morrison not much excepted) powered into the issue. The President tweeted about the hypocrisy of these coaches and about the NBA’s genuflecting to communist regimes while moving All-Star games out of North Carolina because the state legislature insists biological men use the men’s toilets. You could feel Trump winning votes each day that passed.
Then there were the brave sports columnists like Clay Travis and Jason Whitlock (the latter a black man) who blasted the PCness and cowardice of most sports journalists. Travis claimed that donations to the Democrats and Republicans (which in the US is public information) shows that political journalists donate to the Dems over the Republicans by a 27:1 ratio while sports journalists’ donations run at a 270:1 ratio, an order of magnitude more. That goes a long way to explaining some of the work sports reporting in Australia, doesn’t it. Worse, these overwhelmingly left-leaning sports reporters have an audience that skews right by a good deal more than the voting public at large. How could that be? Well, just think about how things have changed. In the old days reporters went straight from high school to the newspapers. Nowadays they do a degree in journalism, with just about the most woke professors going.
Well, at least the next time coaches Kerr and Poppovich open their woke mouths on anything other than jump shots the audience will burst into guffaws.
James Allan is Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland and the author of Democracy in Decline