Schiff Show: Impeachment Going Forward on Calvinball Rules

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson gave his title characters the best-ever children’s game to play: Calvinball. The rules of Calvinball are simple, in that there aren’t any. Players can make up or abandon rules on the spot, with or without informing the other players. The only hard-and-fast Calvinball rule is that no rule may be used more than once.

Congressman Adam Schiff (D, Calif.) is apparently something of a Calvinball aficionado. Watch as he changes rules on the fly, and without bothering to tell anyone what those rules might be.

In the comic strip world, Calvinball is a sprightly game played with gusto by a young boy and his stuffed tiger. It’s gentlemanly in its own strange way, played for innocent thrills and no score. Calvinball, as played by Schiff, is a political bloodsport meant to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

Or, being a bit more generous, maybe Calvinball is just Schiff’s way of appeasing the Impeachment-at-Any-Price-Crazy-Chacha-Pants Wing of the Democratic party. I mean, if he doesn’t expect to actually accomplish anything, then why not play by the only-rule-is-that-there-are-no-rules non-rules of Calvinball?

I know these unfair, unprecedented, and underhanded hearings are supposed to get our constitutional hackles all up, but when I see such an obvious pantomime of justice like Schiff’s, the best I can manage is a knowing laugh.

For the record: I’m knowingly laughing at Schiff, not with him.

My friend and colleague Charlie Martin predicted yesterday that there would be no actual impeachment, because the Democrat House can’t afford the risk of what might happen in the Republican Senate. Charlie noted:

Where Eric Ciaramella can be called for public testimony under oath. Where Alex Vindman can be challenged by a former JAG about his violations of the UCMJ. Where people can be called to testify in public what they’ve said in the Star Chamber: that Ukraine never knew about aid being suspended, and that the president of Ukraine denies any pressure.


But I’ll go one step further than Charlie did: The Democrats can’t even risk an actual impeachment process as it’s properly understood, much less send the thing over to Mitch McConnell. That’s why Schiff is going through the motions in such stupidly, annoyingly, cloyingly obvious ways. He has to put on a show for the troops, and this is the best he can do with the material he has.

If I had been writing about this yesterday, I would have concluded that the stakes are just too high to laugh at the Democrats’ impeachment Schiff Show. But now that we’ve seen the debut performance, the stakes no longer seem quite so high, do they?