According to Merriam-Webster, whoever she is, the phrase “silly season” is defined as “a period (such as late summer) when the mass media often focus on trivial or frivolous matters for lack of major news stories” and “a period marked by frivolous, outlandish, or illogical activity or behavior.” In terms of politics, I’ve often heard “silly season” applied to virtually any time when there’s all sorts of wild political rhetoric or other monkey business flying around.
Unlike, say, autumn, there is no definitive time frame designated as “silly season.” But judging by a couple of examples, it’s pretty safe to say that as far as New Mexico politics are concerned, we’re already deep in it.
Late last week, the state Republican Party in a news release took the rare — but warranted — step of criticizing one of its own candidates.
“Chris Mathys, a candidate for the 2nd Congressional district has made intentional misstatements of the facts and untrue accusations about many Republican legislators,” the release said.
That legislator is former state Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, who also is running for the seat now held by Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, who defeated Harrell in 2018.
This is apparently in reaction to a Mathys YouTube video that says, “In 2015 Yvette Herrell introduced [House Bill] 390 allowing abortion up to five months.”
I remember that day when Herrell introduced that bill. All the pro-abortion-rights Democrats on the House floor cheered, chanting, “Yvette’s one of us!” (Before I have to explain this to the humor-impaired, that was a joke.)
In reality the bill, which would have imposed more, not fewer, abortion restrictions, was passed by the House, which then was controlled by the GOP. Every Republican House member voted for it and all but a few Democrats voted against it. The bill died in the Democratic-controlled Senate — over the protests of Republicans.
Or as the state GOP said last week, “Contrary to Mathys’ claims, House Bill 390 was introduced in 2015 in an effort to protect the unborn. The bill made it illegal to perform dangerous, late-term abortions in New Mexico.”
The Republican news release said, “After calls from legislators as well as the minority leader of the House, Chairman [Steve] Pearce contacted Mr. Mathys via phone and he declined to take action and ceased communication with [the state party]. Former state representative and CD2 candidate, Yvette Herrell, has not contacted [the state party] nor asked the party to take action.”
But wait, there’s more evidence of silly season from last week.
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Gavin Clarkson issued a statement calling for impeachment — but not for the current guy facing an impeachment inquiry. Clarkson is calling for “retroactive impeachment” of former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden. For the latter, Clarkson repeats a GOP talking point that Biden improperly helped his son.
Said Clarkson, “The House can impeach and the Senate can convict someone even after they leave office with the penalty being a permanent ban from holding future office. The trial of War Secretary William Belknap clearly established a precedent that Congress retains impeachment jurisdiction over former officials, as did the 1797 impeachment trial of Tennessee Sen. William Blount, which proceeded even after he was expelled by his fellow senators.”
Belknap, who was war secretary under President Ulysses S. Grant, was indeed impeached after he resigned. However, the process had begun well before Belknap, at the urging of Grant, resigned.
As for Blount, he had been caught instigating an extensive land speculation scheme that involved a plot to allow England to gain control of Florida and Louisiana, in return for giving American merchants free access to both New Orleans and the Mississippi River.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 41-30 to hold impeachment hearings. On the same day, the Senate voted 25-1 to “sequester” Blount’s seat, which basically was the same as expelling him.
This idea of retro-impeachment could have legs. Could we go back and impeach Warren G. Harding or Grant himself? And how about that slimy Millard Fillmore? Surely somebody’s got some dirt on him.
Silly seasons greetings, one and all.