Opinion by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon has spent the past few weeks thinking about the truly important things in life (booing French pole vaulters, yelling “Zika” at Hope Solo, trashing service stations, etc.) rather than waste his time on such mundane affairs as the impending impeachment. But, all good things must come to an end, so it’s back to the grindstone, at least until the Paralympics come to town on Brazil’s Independence Day, September 7th.
The timetable for impeachment has now been agreed upon by the President of the Senate and the President pro tempore of the Senate, STF Presiding Justice Ricardo Lewandowski. Basically, the prosecution will present its case to the full Senate this week, and the defense will present its case immediately thereafter.
According to the plan, Senators will not, as is their custom, leave town en masse on Thursday evening, in order to spend the weekend with family and friends, returning to work only on the following Tuesday. Rather, there will be extraordinary sessions Friday, Saturday, Sunday and even Monday. The reason is that the pro-impeachment partisans want the Independence Day celebrations to be presided over by President Temer rather than by Acting President Temer.
The proceedings will be televised, but if you’re looking for high courtroom drama, don’t get your hopes up. After all, this will be at least the fourth time the prosecution and the defence have had to plead their respective cases—the House Impeachment Committee, the full House, the Senate Impeachment Committee, and now the full Senate.
Moreover, after those presentations, each and every Senator will be granted ten minutes of fleeting fame as they justify the way they intend to vote. This spectacle will surely be terminally boring, as we can expect the same sort of irrelevant twaddle that hundreds of members of the lower House spewed forth during the hearings there.
Worse, yet, this procedure is not only ridiculous, it makes a mockery of the due process of law. The Senate is now sitting as a jury in a trial. Imagine, if you will, a criminal case where the judge invites the jurors to stand up on their hind legs after the closing summations from counsel, and announce their position on the guilt or innocence of the defendant before they are cloistered for their deliberations!
If drama is to happen, it will take the form of a personal appearance as a witness by the defendant, now scheduled for Monday August 29th. Dilma Rousseff is widely expected to repeat the litany she has religiously followed since her ousting: she is personally honest, she committed no crime, impeachment is a parliamentary coup and there ought to be new elections for President and both houses of Congress this year.
If she does testify, she can be questioned by Senators; if so, we can expect sparks to fly and raucous cheers and jeers from the assembled Senators and onlookers. Come to think of it, it’s not all that different from the Olympic Games.
The Curmudgeon will doubtless be glued to the tube during the impeachment proceedings, and promises to pass out his own version of medals afterwards.