Our opinion: A dog and pony show

It’s not unusual for members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to stack the deck at hearings about issues they either want to promote or condemn.

Many of these hearings are held in a representative’s district, allowing them to parade “experts” who support their position, while at the same time showing their constituency that they are powerful enough to gather together those experts and other like-minded politicians for some public braying.

Seldom, however, have we seen such a partisan performance stacked so neatly for such a potentially important matter: the impeachment of an elected state line officer, the state attorney general.

But then, nobody ever accused Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, of understatement.

Earlier this week, as chairman of the House State Government Committee, he called such a hearing on consideration of a resolution to impeach Kathleen Kane, the first woman and Democrat to be elected attorney general.

Witnesses were carefully selected to give testimony about the various ways Kane has abused her office, the state constitution and their own conservative sensibilities. Kane was not invited to defend herself, nor were any other witnesses that might have held an opposing view.

Don’t get us wrong, the issue of whether Kathleen Kane is handling her duties properly is a legitimate subject for debate, but debate requires the offer of evidence and opinion on all sides of an issue.

When a Democratic member of the committee asked several times that the hearing be postponed, Metcalfe had him escorted to the door by House security. The rest of the Democratic membership of the committee followed him out the door.

Metcalfe, arguably the most conservative member of the General Assembly, is no stranger to the grandstand, but his antics actually work against that which he portends to stand for. That would be true if he were on the other end of the political spectrum. Thus constructed, Metcalfe’s hearing lacks credibility, and thus undermines his mission.

That grand old man of the Grand Old Party, Barry Goldwater, in his nomination speech for the Republican nomination for president, defended extremism in pursuit of worthwhile goals and demeaned moderation.

He lost.