So you’re a supervisor at a big company facing damaging allegations. You call in every other supervisor to the corporate boardroom.
“This is about our company’s future. We must decide together how to get to the truth,” you tell them. “I want you to stay put and listen very carefully.”
The supervisors swear they will.
The manufacturing division supervisors listen intently. But some in the front office don’t pay much attention. Some play with colorful kids’ toys, while other front office supervisors do crossword puzzles, read or draw pictures.
Some get up and leave the boardroom and the building.
That’s just about what happened late last month during the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate of the President of the United States.
After taking oaths to be impartial and follow traditional rules of decorum, senators agreed to attend every session and consider all evidence.
Most Democratic senators listened intently from their seats, day after day. Most Republicans did, too.
But some Republican senators did crossword puzzles, read, drew pictures or wandered away for hours at a time.
Some Republicans played with fidget spinners they had been given by a fellow GOP senator to amuse themselves at their desks.
A fidget spinner is a cheap plastic toy you spin around and around with your fingers. That’s it; it doesn’t do anything.
The fellow who gave these dumb toys to fellow GOP senators before the impeachment trial began was the Republican chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
If the larger majority of Republican senators who followed the rules of decorum told their misbehaving colleagues to cut it out, the public didn’t hear about it. No one took their toys away.
The House spent days presenting evidence to the Senate to support impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
President Trump was accused of attempting to withhold military aid to an ally, Ukraine, until the foreign country agreed to announce an investigation of a U.S. citizen, who happened to be Trump’s political rival.
The obstruction charge alleges the president blocked an investigation of the matter by preventing the House from hearing from subpoenaed witnesses and seeing requested documents.
President Trump’s lawyers called no witnesses to defend the president at the Senate trial.
Understandably, a poll taken during the trial showed that 75 percent of registered voters wanted the Senate to call witnesses.
Instead, a majority of members of the Republican-led Senate voted not to allow any witnesses for the remainder of the trial.
That was as of last week, and we don’t yet know the trial’s outcome in the Senate, a branch of our government we have been told since childhood is “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” What we do know is that those Republican senators who mocked this serious proceeding with their fidget spinners have not yet answered to their bosses for diminishing the dignity of the U.S. Senate.
We, the people, are their bosses.