Friday, November 22, 2019

Too much television

I've never been inclined to binge-watch TV — even the most dramatic and convoluted fictions just can't hold my interest for more than an hour or two.

Then I got hooked on the impeachment inquiry — not for new revelations nor even for the inevitable confirmations of my preexisting beliefs.  I was hooked on the human drama: the personalities of the witnesses, and their distinctive responses to the singular circumstances of Congressional scrutiny.  It was "reality television" at its best.

The career diplomats (aka "deep state") expressed a degree of moral clarity rarely encountered in our day-to-day lives.  I felt I could trust Alexander Vindman with all my passwords and account numbers; Marie Yovanovitch's grace under fire tempted me to join in the standing ovation she received as she exited the hearing room; Fiona Hill's testimony, of course, was literally breathtaking; and the earnest courage of the less senior diplomats, who disobeyed Tr*mp's orders to ignore Congressional subpoenas, was genuinely inspiring.

The most interesting character study, though, was Gordon Sondland.  Gregarious, self-assured, and puckishly self-deprecating at times, he came across as somehow likeable as he sought to thread a narrow path between perjury charges and presidential revenge.  His role in the Congressional teledrama was, to me, Shakespearean: a "man of parts" brought down by vain ambition — and wishing he'd blown that million bucks on anything else.

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