Mary Lou and I got our first pup, Annie, the winter before we moved to Arizona. Someone had abandoned a litter of border collie mix puppies though Annie was the only one rescued. I don’t want to think about what happened to the others.

We knew Annie was smart as we reveled in teaching her both to behave and do things she (and we) enjoyed. We taught her to fetch, of course, and we were charmed that she especially enjoyed when I threw her ball over the roof into the front yard because she so liked the challenge of finding the ball in anticipation of proudly returning it to be thrown again.

When Annie was 2 years old, Mary Lou flew from Bemidji to Arizona a week before I was ready to head down. Early in that week, Annie and I listened to Daniel Pinkwater (a children’s author) describe how he taught his pup to read. He put all the dog’s commands on 3x5 file cards and showed each to the dog while giving the corresponding verbal command. And that’s what I did with Annie.

Result? When Annie and I rejoined Mary Lou, our pup could read!

Why is this worthy of note? The answer comes from the drama currently playing out in Washington, D.C. While the Democrats appropriately required President Trump stand for an impeachment trial before the Senate, they erred in failing to include the president’s obstructing justice as reported in the Mueller Report. They also egregiously denied the Republicans the opportunity (1) to call witnesses and (2) to present their own evidence before taking the vote for impeachment. The Senate Republicans may be on the cusp of repeating those mistakes in (3) not allowing any witnesses and (4) so decreasing the chances of a decision made on the totality of the evidence.

A fifth mistake concerns the Founding Fathers' recognition that impeachment of an incumbent president is a political matter. I don’t know what that word meant in 1787, but I suspect it called for dispassionate debate of evidence and issues rather than today’s partisan arguments-based opinions (e.g., “…the conversation was perfect”) and conclusions drawn ignoring witness' statements (e.g., “there was no quid pro quo”) rather than reasoned arguments examining and conclusions summarizing available evidence. And the sixth mistake: The Senate majority leader’s coordinating with the President’s White House counsel which is an egregious blunder that flies in the face of the Founding Fathers’ intentions.

Which brings me to a question for you, my reader. How can Daniel Pinkwater and I teach dogs to read when 535 duly elected officials representing 327 million Americans can’t follow the Constitutional requirements they’ve sworn to uphold?

Hank Slotnick is a retired UND professor who, with his wife, winters in Pima, Ariz., and summers in Debs.