Already a proven mess of a process, The Speaker may have made things worse for her party with her poor timing.
After a ridiculous amount of time in stasis House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today has announced to her party that she intends to finally send the articles of impeachment to the Senate by next week. The gambit by her to sit on the voted-upon articles for weeks has yielded none of the expected returns she was hoping for, and now Democrats campaigning in Iowa may be paying a significant public relations price as a result.
Once received by the Senate it will be up to Leader Mitch McConnell when to proceed with the impeachment trial, then once he does it will mandate thee attendance of all Senators. This will include those currently on the campaign trail for the Presidency. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar. The vitally important Iowa Caucus is 25 days away, and now Nancy Pelosi may have hamstrung four campaigns in the important weeks leading up to that key vote.
As she announced her intention to withhold the articles Pelosi stated it was with two intentions; she attempted to insist on how Mitch McConnell was going to conduct things in the Senate, and she had an eye on developing further evidence against the President. Both of those efforts have been fruitless. McConnell has barely paid any heed at all to what Pelosi implored of him, and the second reason has been a doubly troubling return. Not only has nothing new been gleaned during her delay, but the fact that more evidence was desired only underscored how weak the conclusions reached in the House have been.
Now Nancy is bringing the articles to the Judiciary Committee for an approval vote so they can then be sent over to the Senate. This requisite move is just another that displays the farce that took place in the impeachment proceedings; the House Judiciary is a required participant in the process, yet Adam Schiff had barred involvement by Judiciary members in his closed-door meetings ahead of the impeachment. But this has been the norm of the entire impeachment storyline — the bulk of the narrative has been about the process, and not the findings.
Once that Judiciary vote is held — Tuesday the 14th is the expected date — then McConnell will be set to schedule the Senate trial. This becomes a windfall for the flagging Presidential campaigns of Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, both freed of the Senatorial requirement. Yet the timing by Pelosi is bad for the overall campaign season, not just those Senators who may have efforts in Iowa suspended.
The ramping up of the impeachment will be an event that dominates the news cycles. While that is purportedly considered a negative for President Trump it becomes another feature distracting away from the prattling candidates. Compound that coverage with the hyperactive bleating of the Middle East and the blatantly hoped-for attitude in the mainstream press for war, and it becomes yet another reason to take the focus away from the campaign trail. Impeachment will just become another distraction.
Well done Speaker Pelosi — you have taken more needed oxygen away from the voices clamoring for Presidential attention.
(CNN)House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have been bested by Mitch McConnell yet again. The two Democrats attempted to create impeachment leverage where none existed by withholding the Articles of Impeachment passed last month against President Donald Trump.But like your Aunt Frieda threatening not to bring her awful fruitcake to Christmas Dinner, their plan didn’t work. Nobody wanted it in the first place.
McConnell won this round against his Keystone Cops opposition because he has something Schumer and Pelosi don’t: a reasonable argument.The Senate majority leader has insisted from the beginning that if the House were to impeach Trump, the Senate should treat him the same way it treated Bill Clinton in 1998. So, McConnell has steadfastly argued for the same rules package that passed the Senate 100-0 in the Clinton iteration. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” makes a pretty sensible argument. The Democrats have raged against his position. This is different, they say. They are right — this is different. The articles of impeachment against Clinton were bipartisan, and the ones against Trump aren’t.Given the hyper partisan nature of this impeachment against Trump, McConnell’s offer for the Clinton rules should have been greeted by Democrats with open arms. But instead they have demanded to treat a Republican president different from the way a Democratic president was treated not so long ago under the guise of producing a fair trial.
It’s the height of hypocrisy for Schumer to lead this charge. He used his impeachment vote in his 1998 Senate campaign as a political weapon, promising donors and voters that supporting him would lead to Clinton’s acquittal. In fact, some might even call what Schumer did a quid pro quo — you support me, and I’ll vote to acquit your president. Today, he tears into McConnell on a near daily basis for not being an impartial juror. What a joke. Schumer voted for the Clinton rules package back then and opposes it now because, well … I guess opposing Donald Trump is a helluva drug.Democrats have repeatedly made their feelings on Trump known. Just Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren said: “I am willing to listen to the Trump administration put on a defense … (but) I don’t see how it’s possible not to vote for an impeachment.”She’s not alone, of course, but her words are just the latest gut punch to Schumer’s claims that the Senate should turn into some episode of Perry Mason. Even Schumer himself said back in 1998 that the Senate is “not like a jury.”The days of Pelosi being hailed as some next-level genius impeachment strategist I guess will have to come to an end for the liberal pundit industry. Her plan to withhold the articles of impeachment to create that “leverage” over McConnell failed spectacularly. No Republicans were harmed, pressured, or otherwise inconvenienced in the making of this sad, sad film.
Under the rules pushed by McConnell, same as for Clinton, the US Senate will begin the impeachment trial by listening to presentations from the House managers and the President’s lawyers. Then there will be a question and answer period for senators to get information from the presenters.And then the Senate can decide what it wants to do about witnesses. Maybe they will want to hear from some. Maybe they won’t. Even if they do, don’t bet on a quick resolution. No matter what former National Security Adviser John Bolton says about being willing to testify under subpoena from the Senate, it is likely the White House would invoke executive privilege to try to prevent his testimony.What’s more, if he’s so interested in telling his story now, why does he need to wait for a subpoena? Bolton could simply write down everything he knows and send it to Congress right now if he wanted. But he hasn’t done that, I suspect because he wants the appearance of looking like he wants to talk without the actual responsibility of doing it.
Bolton’s announcement won’t change McConnell’s thinking on how to process this impeachment, and underscores what a blunder it was for Pelosi and Adam Schiff to have failed to subpoena Bolton in the first place.And now McConnell has exposed them for what they are — desperate partisans who aren’t interested in using impeachment the way the founders intended, but rather as just another tactic to be deployed in the hopes of trapping some Republican senator in a vote that can be used in an attack ad.They failed to convince a single Republican in the House that impeachment was necessary. They failed to pressure Mitch McConnell’s conference to do their homework for them.
And they will fail to remove President Trump from office when all is said and done, instead delivering him to a perch of exoneration from which he will bludgeon them for weeks.This could not have gone more poorly if the Democrats had tried. Any Republican senator on the ballot this year knows it would be suicide to join Pelosi or Schumer’s hapless crusade now. Better to let the people decide Trump’s fate in November than allow the Washington partisans to try in January.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats behind closed doors Tuesday that the she would continue to hold the passed articles of impeachment back from the upper chamber until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered details on how a trial will be conducted.
Pelosi’s comments as reported by the Washington Post showcase the Democrats’ latest power grab to bend the impeachment proceedings in the Senate to their will demanding the testimony of new witnesses.
After the House passed two articles of impeachment, one for abuse of power and one for obstruction of Congress by an almost uniform partisan vote, Pelosi announced she would be withholding the articles from moving forward to the Senate.
Pelosi’s decision to bring a halt to the impeachment process comes as Democrats aim to amp up pressure on Republicans to conduct the trial in the Senate on the Democrats’ terms even after operating an unfair process rushed in the House.
The impeachment proceedings lodged against President Donald Trump were kicked off by an anonymous whistleblower complaint alleging Trump conspired with the Ukrainian president to interfere in the next U.S. presidential election. The complaint, marked credible and urgent by the intelligence community inspector general but not by the Department of National Intelligence sparked rampant speculation by impeachment-hungry Democrats and the mainstream media as a smoking gun to end the Trump presidency.
Soon after knowledge of the complaint surfaced in the media however, the White House declassified and released an unredacted transcript of the July 25 phone call in question under the complaint between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Democrats have tried incessantly to paint the call as damning evidence illustrating that Trump invited Ukraine to get involved in the next election by investigating the Biden family in exchange for nearly $400 million in military aid. The withheld aid was ultimately released without a Ukrainian investigation.
In reality, a true and honest reading of the transcript exposes an American president urging the Ukrainian leader to root out corruption in the eastern European nation and requesting that Zelensky investigate the origins of Ukraine’s peddling of the Russian collusion hoax in the United States.
In more than two months of rushed proceedings, Democrats failed to unearth evidence worth of a “high crime and misdemeanor,” that warrants the extreme measure of impeachment despite the entire process run in the lower chamber being slanted to disadvantage Republicans. To the contrary, the Democrats’ own witnesses exonerated Trump of any wrongdoing regarding Ukraine.
Democrats impeached the president anyway, and now Democrats are demanding the Senate call additional witnesses to prolong the process and find the incriminating evidence to oust Trump from the Oval Office. Incriminating evidence will be hard to find however, as the House hearings exposed to the public, there isn’t any.
Pelosi’s present play to prohibit the process from moving onward has further undercut the entire premise of a rushed procedure in the House, which sought to remove the president from office as quick as possible citing Trump’s hold on power as an urgent threat to the survival of the republic.
McConnell has made clear his desire for a fair and quick trial in the Senate and has pushed back on Democratic demands to call more witnesses to prolong a process that has been a sham from the start launched in a desperate effort to reverse the results of the 2016 election.
Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham proposedchanging the Senate rules regarding impeachment altogether to remove Pelosi from the process and begin the trial proceedings without the House speaker’s approval.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, joined by a dozen Republican senators has proposed dismissing the impeachment trial altogether.
No one can be sure what her intent is. I’m not sure she even knows but her decision to wait before transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate is setting a bad precedent that puts politics ahead of the U.S. Constitution.
For all the work that’s gone into addressing the charges against President Donald Trump, it’s hard to argue they rise to the level of impeachable offenses. The charge of obstruction of Congress could just as easily be presented as a justifiable defense of executive power for which ample precedent exists. The allegation he abused the power of his office is likewise flawed. While U.S. policy toward Ukraine is legitimately a subject for congressional oversight it is hardly the stuff of which previous presidents were threatened with removal from office.
Remember, early on, how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opined on the gravity of impeachment and the need for bipartisanship? She got the latter at least, but not as she hoped. It was the Democrats who split their votes. Not a single Republican voted for impeachment. Three Democrats did along with Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard, who wants to be president and who voted “Present.”
Oklahoma Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, a cool-headed senior member of the House of Representatives, may have put it best when he recently tweeted: “After running a totally partisan and closed impeachment process in the House, [Pelosi] now wants an open and bipartisan process in the Senate? That is the height of political hypocrisy!”
He’s right. The process leading to the president’s impeachment was manifestly unfair, with the minority party in Congress’s right to mount a defense of the president routinely impeded by the process the Democrats devised.
Now Pelosi is sitting on her hands, waiting for Senate to approve rules for a trial to which she can agree because they will be, as she put it, “fair.” She’s entitled to her opinion, one supposes, but she’s failing to carry out her duties as leader of the House by doing so. She’s also creating a problem she’s not aware of for, if Harvard’s Noah Feldman is right and the president is not deemed to have been impeached until the articles are forwarded to the Senate, why should anyone be planning for a trial? Wouldn’t that be premature?
Democrats hoped the Mueller Report would show collusion with the Russians but that went nowhere. They had to settle for an innovative interpretation of a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The Democrats allege Trump proposed a quid pro quo—military aid for Ukraine in exchange for a public announcement of an investigation into alleged corruption by Hunter Biden and, by extension, his father, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden who, the polls suggest, is most likely to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
It’s a stretch, but the case was made anyway even though both Trump and Zelenskiy deny any such arrangement was ever on the table. And without the Democrats willing even to acknowledge the younger Biden’s paid membership on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was the point man for the U.S. government on Ukraine policy looks suspicious. Even the elder Biden has a hard time grappling with the question when it’s been put to him. But who among us won’t say, at least in their heart of hearts, that payments of a million dollars a year to the well-connected son of an important U.S politician by an energy company operating in a country with all the political integrity of Chicago, Illinois isn’t worth looking into?
What Pelosi wants is at least one more bite at the apple, maybe more. Her minions have been trying to impeach the president for most of his administration. The votes taken just prior to Christmas on articles of impeachment were not the first and, if you can believe what’s being said over the holiday recess, may not be the last. As Politico is reporting, “The House is open to the prospect of impeaching President Donald Trump a second time, lawyers for the Judiciary Committee said Monday.”
Will it ever end? Probably not. Just as Bill Clinton gave us what came to be called “the permanent campaign,” Nancy Pelosi and her allies are giving America “the permanent impeachment.” For all her high-minded talk about the gravity of the situation and the steps being taken by the House, she’s messing around with the Constitution while trying to overturn the results of the last election and influence the outcome of the next. She might succeed, at least as far as the latter effort is concerned, but not in the way she intends.
How good is the U.S. economy? So good that even CNN, the monomanically anti-Trump television network, was forced to admit it last week.
“As 2019 comes to a close, the US economy earns its highest ratings in almost two decades,” CNN reported, dourly relaying findings of a poll it commissioned. “Overall, 76% rate economic conditions in the US today as very or somewhat good, significantly more than those who said so at this time last year (67%). This is the highest share to say the economy is good since February 2001, when 80% said so. Almost all Republicans (97%) say economic conditions are good right now, as do 75% of independents and 62% of Democrats. Positive ratings are up across parties compared with August of this year, when 91% of Republicans, 62% of independents and 47% of Democrats said the economy was in good shape.”
It’s no surprise that Americans are pleased with their economic situation this holiday season. Consider the data: The unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, indicating essentially full employment. Anyone who wants a job can get one, in other words. Wage growth, long stagnant, is ticking up, likely because of full employment — and, perhaps because illegal immigration has been somewhat curtailed. Total gross domestic product is chugging along, growing at more than 2 percent annually. The stock market is stratospheric, buoying not only individual investors but also anybody who has a retirement account. What’s all the more striking is that earlier this year there was plenty of loose talk about a looming recession. Sure, that could still happen (and eventually it will), but it doesn’t seem to be on the immediate horizon.
The strength of the economy can be chalked up to Republican tax cuts (which unfortunately also contributed to yawning federal deficits), deregulation and the unrelenting optimism of the American consumer. Some 70 percent of U.S. GDP is attributable to consumer spending, so the economy rises and falls with it. That Americans are spending on everything from houses to cars to dinners out contributes to economic growth and healthy jobs figures — which in turn likely contribute to more consumer spending. This is a classic virtuous cycle.
The strength of the economy no doubt has political effects as well. President Donald Trump will certainly benefit. Even CNN conceded that Americans’ bulging wallets will “[potentially boost] President Donald Trump in matchups against the Democrats vying to face him in next year’s election.”
“As perceptions of the economy have brightened, the poll also shows matchups between the top Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination and Trump tightening. In October, four Democrats tested in hypothetical head-to-head contests with Trump among registered voters led by anywhere from 6 to 10 percentage points, all advantages outside that poll’s margin of sampling error,” CNN continued. “Now, just two of those candidates hold edges at or above the error margin: former Vice President Joe Biden leads Trump nationally 49% to 44%, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tops Trump 49% to 45%. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg each run about even with the President.”
Mr. Trump will face significant headwinds in next year’s election to be sure: a fired up opposition, various global crises and an intemperate personality that many Americans, understandably, find distasteful. But he will no doubt delight in asking Americans: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” For large majorities, the answer will be yes.
It’s official. Black Lives really don’t Matter. At least not inside the Democratic Party.
For a party so thoroughly obsessed with race, it is amazing just how white they are.
If you were one of the Americans who declined to tune into last week’s Democratic debate, you missed just how thoroughly white the party of Barack Obama has become.
There was one candidate white as the snow drifts of Minnesota, two white socialists from the Northeast, a bumbling white former vice president and a white billionaire. And then a white mayor of a university town in Indiana.
The only drop of pigmentation on the stage came in the form of businessman Andrew Yang, who also happens to be the least insufferable of the bunch. Actually, Mr. Yang can be downright interesting at times and seems like he is at least trying to be honest when he speaks — something you cannot say about anybody else presently running for the Democratic nomination.
Obviously, the vast, vast majority of normal Americans have long ago moved on from paying any mind to such irrelevant nonsense. But the Democratic Party remains obsessed with race and making everything about race. So, if we are going to judge anyone by those standards, we should start with the Democratic Party.
Adding actual injury to insult, one of the dazzlingly white Democrats on the stage last week actually spent her entire white-privileged adult life pretending to be a woman of “color” to take advantage of programs designed to help actual people of color overcome past inequalities.
Part of me really hopes that Sen. Elizabeth Warren wins the nomination so that political opposition researchers can dig up all the deserving people who were denied opportunities at Harvard so that Ms. Warren could play cowboys and Indians.
Nowhere do Democrats’ pandering claims about Black Lives Matter ring more hollow than in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Gov. Ralph Northam remains in office despite his sordid history of wearing blackface, dressing up as — or alongside — a Ku Klux Klan member and calling himself “Coonman,” which many perceived as a racially motivated pejorative. Such a scandal would sink any politician.
But Ralph Northam? The leader of the Virginia Democratic Party? Nope.
Turns out, if you really don’t give a rip about all your party’s platitudes about racial sensitivity and how Black Lives Matter, you can do whatever you want and never pay a price. Also, it helps to be utterly shameless.
Nobody is prouder of this than Mr. Northam himself.
“I am the leader of this party,” he bragged in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch as the anniversary of his blackface scandal drew near.
“Virginians have stuck with me and I am proud that they have,” he said, modestly, without providing evidence for such a claim.
“If you look at my life, at least my adult life, it’s been one of service,” he said. By “adult life,” Mr. Northam presumably meant his post-blackface life.
By Red State•
I have to admit that my biggest surprises of this election cycle have been the speed with which former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s favorite underling, Kamala Harris, crashed and burned and the difficulty that Elizabeth Warren has zipping to the head of the field. If you check my writing earlier in this year, I fully expected the 2020 contest to be a Trump-Warren cage match.
That has not materialized. Harris is out. Warren is engaged in a race for second place with superannuated commie Bernie Sanders. And, as in most competitive endeavors, the technical term for someone finishing in second place is “loser.”
Why might that be? The New York Times has an answer, the major media are just too biased towards centrist candidates.
Last month, [Politico founding editor and current columnist John F.] Harris wrote a column that I can’t get out of my head. In it, he argued that political journalism suffers from “centrist bias.” As he explained, “This bias is marked by an instinctual suspicion of anything suggesting ideological zealotry, an admiration for difference-splitting, a conviction that politics should be a tidier and more rational process than it usually is.”
The bias caused much of the media to underestimate Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Donald Trump in 2016. It also helps explain the negative tone running through a lot of the coverage of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders this year.
Centrist bias, as I see it, confuses the idea of centrism (which is very much an ideology) with objectivity and fairness. It’s an understandable confusion, because American politics is dominated by the two major parties, one on the left and one on the right. And the overwhelming majority of journalists at so-called mainstream outlets — national magazines, newspapers, public radio, the non-Fox television networks — really are doing their best to treat both parties fairly.
Once you start thinking about centrist bias, you recognize a lot of it. It helps explain why the 2016 presidential debates focused more on the budget deficit, a topic of centrist zealotry, than climate change, almost certainly a bigger threat. (Well-funded deficit advocacy plays a role too.) Centrist bias also helps explain the credulousness of early coverage during the Iraq and Vietnam wars. Both Democrats and Republicans, after all, largely supported each war.
The theory goes this way. Because the media are unwilling to give a fair hearing to outside-the-box ideas, those ideas never take off. And the columnist points to many things that were not considered moderate and now are.
The abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, labor rights, the New Deal, civil rights for black Americans, Reagan’s laissez-faire revolution and same-sex marriage all started outside the boundaries of what either party favored.
I think that is a fairly shallow understanding of any of those issues. For instance, when you read the Republican platform for the 1860 election, it is pretty obvious that at least one party was running for office on the idea of abolition of slavery. If this columnist is in doubt, the slave state governors were not.
All in all, I think this theory is one of those self-pleasuring exercises to which our media is prone. If you look at the coverage given any campaign by the media, you will actually find next to no coverage of any significant issue. If you’re getting your economic commentary from any outlet that employs Paul Krugman, you’re really doing it all wrong. Quite honestly, the media are not at all reticent about pushing outlandish ideas when their reporters are sympathetic to the cause. If you’re trying to tell me the media did not push homosexual marriage and are not agitating for a pride of place for transgenderism now, you’re nuts.
Neither Warren nor Sanders failing to excite the masses is a mystery. Everyone knows Warren is a fraud and a liar. Even if you think President Trump is also a fraud and a liar you are forced to admit that Trump is, at least, an entertaining one who doesn’t care how you spend your money or how many sheets of toilet paper you use per bowel movement. Sanders is a communist. He’s a guy who honeymooned in the USSR while it was aiming nuclear missiles at the United States. No number of position papers and supporting experts is going to get that past a majority of Americans.
As to some of the other specifics. Americans aren’t, at least for another few decades, going to support a “wealth tax” because most Americans hate the IRS much more than they hate rich people. And a lot of us have a sneaking desire to be wealthy one day. Americans aren’t going to support Medicare for All because we saw how the government’s ability to make a soup sandwich out of a functioning program by the Obamacare debacle. Seniors don’t want the system changed. People who have other means don’t want to be a part of it.
The reason why nutty ideas don’t make it to the top tier is because Americans are a fairly conservative people unless faced by extraordinary circumstances. The media don’t push the nutbaggery their staff would support because in order to be credible you have to at least pretend to have a grip on reality. Media coverage of issues actually follows policy debate, it doesn’t lead them.
The claim that the media try to treat both parties fairly is so bizarre as to rate a 911 call and have the nice guys with the butterfly nets and Thorazine cappuccino show up to save the writer from himself.
Nope. It isn’t centrist bias holding back Warren and Sanders. It is their own flaws and the silliness of the policies they are pushing, both of which are readily discernible to even a casual observer, that is causing them to flounder. If there were a centrist bias, then Joe Biden, at least in this Democrat field, would be well over 50%. But he isn’t because there isn’t such a bias and even if there were, the media doesn’t have that kind of impact on the electorate. Or maybe Joe Biden isn’t a centrist. He’s the guy campaigning on free sex-change operations in prison.
This is just another example of a moribund industry trying to puff up its own importance. It is superficial and silly and a perfect metaphor for our political punditry.
Column: Thank his opponents
President Trump ends 2019 in a better position than when he started. The year began with the swearing in of Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House. The Mueller probe dragged on. The legislative agenda of Trump’s first two years in office had petered out. The Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden, was beating him by double digits in the polls. A little more than halfway through the year, bond prices signaled recession.
Look where things stand now. Pelosi’s decision to impeach Trump already has cost her a seat and stands zero chance of resulting in a Senate conviction. Not only has Mueller shuffled off the stage, but Michael Horowitz’s report on FBI malfeasance also raises serious doubts about the credibility of the government and media elites who spent years arguing that Trump and his associates were Russian agents. Mitch McConnell blocks liberal bills from the House while confirming additional conservative judges. Biden is damaged and the problems of his candidacy manifest as he sleepwalks toward his party’s nomination. The economy is gangbusters.
Nothing the Democratic majority has done has hurt Trump’s approval rating. At this time last year, he stood at 42 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. As I write, the RCP average of Trump’s approval rating is 45 percent and disapproval is 52 percent. Trump’s numbers are remarkably stable and closely track President Obama’s at this point in his presidency. Biden began the year with big leads over Trump. Since then his margin has dwindled to 4 percent. And that’s before Trump drops $1 billion in negative social media on him (or whoever the nominee is) next year.
Of course, Trump cannot say that he has been consistently popular. The opposite is true. And a 4-point victory for Biden still would be a victory—though not necessarily under the rules of the Electoral College. What Trump can say is that efforts to remove him from office have failed, or are about to fail, and have not prevented him from delivering the disruptive change that his supporters desire. Trump’s destiny is not to be a broadly popular president, if that is even possible anymore. He has been a consequential president. And may well be a reelected one.
Trump’s opponents have contributed to his success ever since he became the focal point of our national life in 2015. He fashioned himself into a political bulldozer and rolled over decades-old dynasties, demolished Republican shibboleths, ground into dust codes of presidential behavior, and plowed through entrenched obstacles to conservative policymaking in the bureaucracy and courts. Throughout it all, he has benefited from the contrast between his policies and results on one hand and the possibility of the “bold, structural change” desired by woke Democrats on the other. He also has made the most of his adversaries’ weaknesses: not just the character traits he turns into nicknames but the zealotry that manifests itself in overreach and radicalism.
The hinge point of Trump’s good year was Friday, March 22, when the Justice Department acknowledged receipt of the Mueller report into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Two days later, Attorney General William Barr released his summary of the report’s contents. The full report was made available to the public on April 18. It was clear by then that despite all of the time, energy, resources, and indictments and convictions, Mueller had not uncovered a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia and was not willing to assert that the president obstructed justice. Mueller’s testimony before Congress on July 24 was a flop. The Russia investigation that had begun in the summer of 2016 and consumed the media since it was made public the following year ended in a whimper.
It was shortly after Mueller’s appearance on Capitol Hill that Trump had his “perfect” call with President Zelensky of Ukraine. The whistleblower complaint that was filed with the intelligence community inspector general afterward, and made public on September 26, set into motion the president’s impeachment, culminating in Wednesday’s House vote. No president wants to be impeached, and no president ought to be impeached in the absence of compelling and damning evidence, but there is an argument to be made that in some ways impeachment has benefited Trump.
For one thing, impeachment has focused Trump’s attention. In between the end of the Mueller investigation and the beginning of the impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in a series of incendiary battles with left-wing Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and the late Elijah Cummings. While Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are unpopular, the controversies nevertheless stirred up issues of race and gender that make suburbanites extremely uncomfortable.
Absent impeachment, these last few months might have been spent in endless social media flame wars with celebrities, progressives, wayward Republicans, and whoever else wandered into the crossfire. Instead, President Trump and the GOP have been “on message” against the whistleblower, Adam Schiff, and Nancy Pelosi to a degree that is nothing short of remarkable. Think about what they might accomplish if Republicans were similarly focused on the state of the economy.
Impeachment crowded out all else. This made freshmen Democrats from districts Trump won in 2016 anxious. Pelosi had to give them something in return for impeachment that they could take back to their districts. That something was the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement—which just happens to be a top priority of the president’s. At the end of this process, Trump will have kept his job through at least January 2021 and pocketed a significant diplomatic accomplishment and campaign promise. No small feat.
Impeachment also distracted from the Democratic primary. There are six weeks until the Iowa caucuses and hardly anybody besides the candidates and their immediate families seem to care. The Ukraine scandal involves the Democratic frontrunner but in an unusual way. Trump’s desire that President Zelensky look into the energy company Burisma, where Hunter Biden sat on the board, confirmed Joe Biden’s status as the preeminent threat to Trump. But it also reminded people that over the years members of the Biden family have benefited from Joe’s high office. And Biden’s clumsy response to allegations of unseemly profit-seeking was another reminder of his weaknesses as a candidate. This flawed frontrunner, already defined by his son’s influence peddling, maintains his lead in the polls because Democratic primary voters see his 14 rivals as too radical or unelectable.
President Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago impeached but defiant, with a new NAFTA and a “Phase One” China deal, Space Force, 185 federal judges, the lowest unemployment in half a century, a stock market that has increased by 50 percent since Election Day 2016, a unified party, and an opposition barreling toward a confusing and bruising primary. Trump won 2019, but this is the preseason. The real game begins in 2020.
The highest law of the land is the Constitution, not the House of Representatives.
The prevailing rationale for the entire impeachment procedure has been that the House of Representatives is the ultimate authority governing the impeachment process. Forgotten in all the blather about the actions of the House is the fact that the highest law of the land is not the will of the House but the Constitution of the United States of America. The Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution explicitly grant to every citizen of this Republic the inalienable right to due process, including the right to face his or her accuser and the right to defense in a court of law.
The “due process amendments” apply to the President of the United States as well as all others. The House denied those rights in this case. The President should file forthwith a lawsuit against the House asking the court to set aside the entire procedure. Likewise, the Senate should refuse to consider the House action until the Supreme Court renders its verdict.
Why is this important? Because the precedent set by this House action portends the doom of our democracy. The House has proven that no elected official is safe from unlawful dismissal from office by the majority vote of the opposition party. In this case, the Democrat majority has unlawfully indicted an American President duly elected by the people without any semblance of due process as established by law and custom.
In addition, the action resulted in re-defining “high crimes and misdemeanors” to include actions which are not crimes by any accepted practice. In this case, “abuse of power” is not a criminal offense because it is simply too vague to be provable. Likewise, the exercise of Executive Privilege is customary and has been accepted practice for the entire history of the Republic.
Consider the consequences of this current action. All that stands between this President and his removal from office is the incidental fact that his party controls the Senate. Suppose he wins reelection but that the opposition party wins control of both Houses of Congress. The current House of Representatives has proven that partisan politics is the primary factor in the decision as to whether or not to vote for his removal from office. Otherwise, there would have been bipartisan support for the House action. This partisan loyalty was also proven in the Clinton case, when both Houses of Congress voted along party lines. It is therefore reasonable to assume that all actions of impeachment and removal will continue to be governed by partisan loyalties.
Back to our example then. Having failed to remove the President from office the first time, it is entirely predictable that the Democrats would try a second time. This time the Senate would convict. Then suppose the President refused to leave office voluntarily and instead, as Commander-in-Chief, he called up the Army to declare martial law and arrest the Democrat members of Congress. Presto: we are now a “Banana Republic” where the military controls the government and dictatorship is a whisker away. Democracy rapidly becomes a thing of the past. No office is safe from partisan impeachment including Supreme Court Justices.
We cannot let this happen. But, if the current House impeachment is allowed to stand, our democratic elections are doomed to fall.
The Republican Party has a choice to make about its future. It can either adapt to America’s societal and demographic changes or rely on its current strategy. One of these options leads to a party that reflects the United States; the other renders the party obsolete.
Many on the right have argued that the GOP must broaden its base by assertively courting minority voters if it wishes to remain relevant. So far, many in the party have ignored or even resisted such outreach. However, if a recent announcement from Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is any indication, a new approach is on the horizon.
Hurd, who retires next year, is starting an organization that will support diverse candidates in primary races across the country. The group, known as Future Leaders Fund (FLF), will “go into primary races around the country where there are good, conservative, and diverse candidates to build the future of the Republican Party,” according to its website.
FLF’s objective is to help the GOP shed its “party of old white men” label by creating “a diverse crop of future elected officials to be ambassadors to our party,” who will “attract new voters disenfranchised by the socialist left to join our party.”
The group plans to spend millions of dollars next year to ensure that minority, female, and young candidates get on the ballot. During the announcement, Hurd explained his reasons for this new endeavor: “America is becoming more diverse, while the Republican Party is becoming less popular with minority voters,” he said, pointing out that the GOP “lost 76% of minority voters.”
The representative then issued a stark warning: “If the Republican Party doesn’t start looking like America and resonating with all Americans, then there won’t be a Republican Party in America.” Hurd, the only black Republican in the House, announced that he would not seek re-election next year. He endorsed Tony Gonzalez, a Hispanic American, to replace him. After announcing his retirement, he indicated that he was not finished with politics, and it appears this initiative will occupy his time in 2020.
Until the present, the Republican Party has focused the bulk of its campaigning and messaging efforts on white voters in rural and suburban areas. Since the 1960s, this strategy achieved varying levels of success. Nevertheless, this approach will likely become ineffective going forward because the nation’s demographics are changing. The solution is simple: The Republican Party must adopt a plan that will expand its base.
Hurd and other conservatives are correct in this assessment. Unless the GOP reforms into a party that looks like the rest of the country, it will become irrelevant. Some on the right are resistant, arguing that engaging with minorities constitutes the same type of pandering that Democrats love, but this argument misses the point. Interacting with minority voters is not pandering. It is stimulating dialogue and demonstrating the areas where conservative solutions can make a positive difference. To keep the GOP vital in the years to come, the party must enlarge and revitalize its base.
As it stands now, the entire effort is drenched in partisanship.
Democrats on the Intelligence Committee have spent the vast majority of their impeachment hearings trying to persuade voters that bureaucrats believe Donald Trump is impulsive, self-serving, and misguided — all of which is unsurprising, and completely irrelevant to the matter at hand.
Quite often, in fact, the most breathless coverage of these tedious hearings has absolutely nothing to do with the allegedly impeachable offenses of quid pro quo or “bribery” — or whatever focus group-tested terminology Democrats are deploying today. Take the newest blockbuster witness, Fiona Hill, a Russia expert whose testimony nearly every outlet promised would be “explosive.” She “lashes Rs for siding w Russian theory instead of us on 2016,” Politico’s Jake Sherman informs us.
Having a witness repeat “Russia” a whole bunch of times in front of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment panel isn’t nearly as fascinating or significant as reporters might imagine. Certainly, it has little to do with the supposed investigation undertaken to ferret out impeachable behavior.
For one thing, Hill’s broader contention is dubious. While Trump hasn’t called out Russia for interference, various other GOP leaders have done so on numerous occasions, including in a Senate intel report. And a person can simultaneously believe that both the Russians and Ukrainians meddled in 2016 to various degrees (and the Iranians.)
Even if one doesn’t, though, failing to adopt the Democrats’ histrionic tone over the threat of Twitter bots is neither criminal nor unconstitutional. (Reacting to 2016 as if it were Pearl Harbor, in fact, is likely quite pleasing to Putin.) If selling conspiracy theories to the American public for partisan reasons were a crime, Representative Adam Schiff would be serving consecutive life sentences in Supermax.
Hill ended up making a compelling case that she, and others, disapproved of the White House’s haphazard handling of foreign policy. But she offered no evidence of “bribery.” Yesterday, Ambassador Gordon Sondland also offered compelling testimony that he disapproved of how the White House was conducted foreign policy over Ukraine. Yet, Sondland, like all other bombshell witness, offered no real evidence of any arrangement proving Trump traded on U.S. military aid for a Biden investigation. Indeed, Sondland basically conceded that he didn’t believe Trump cared one way or another whether Zelensky launched an investigation — Trump simply wanted the Ukrainian president to announce one.
None of this means it didn’t happen, it only means that the dramatic tone of the coverage is unwarranted and the hearings have been a waste of time. Everything we know now that matters we already knew when first reading the report of Trump’s call with Volodymyr Zelensky. Either you believe Trump should be impeached for asking a foreign leader to investigate his opponent’s son for corruption or you do not. It’s unlikely we will ever have any hard proof of whether or not there was a quid pro quo.
To me, there’s little question such a call from the president — whether he was explicitly favor trading or not — is at the very least unethical and at most an abuse of power. Is it impeachable? That’s a political decision. Because, no matter how hard liberals try and convince you otherwise, the Trump presidency doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Republicans believe they’ve been living life under two sets of rules. Considering what previous administrations have gotten away with — and what many of the people now clamoring for impeachment helped them get away with — it’s difficult to blame them. Perhaps if Democrats and operatives within government hadn’t spent three years cooking up a fantastical Manchurian Candidate conspiracy to delegitimize Trump this impeachment inquiry might be playing out differently. As it stands now, the entire effort is drenched in partisanship. Which makes it extremely unlikely that many voters will be pried from their previously held positions. Nothing that’s been said during these hearings changes that fact.
Column: Positions and personality trump party and region
Next year you will enter the Twilight Zone where the governors of Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland are Republicans and the governors of North Carolina, Kentucky, and Louisiana are Democrats. It is the middle ground between working-class realignment and the rising American electorate, between polarized parties and disaffected independents, and it lies between the pit of man’s ideology and the summit of his pragmatism. This is the dimension of American politics that reveals the overriding importance of a candidate’s personal qualities and issue positions. It cannot be ignored.
The coverage of recent Democratic victories in Kentucky and Louisiana has emphasized President Trump’s failure to drag Republicans past the finish line. Analysts have focused on Democratic strength in the suburban regions of these states, as well as in the suburbs of Mississippi where the Republican won by a surprisingly slim 5 points. Both of these storylines are important. But so is this one: Candidate attributes and positions matter more than a state or nation’s partisan tilt. President Trump and his 17 Democratic challengers might want to pay attention.
The relationship between individual characteristics and party allegiance was clearest in the Bluegrass State. Republicans won every statewide office but governor. Incumbent Matt Bevin had the unhappy distinction of being the least popularstate executive up for reelection in 2019. It showed. His abrasive personality hurt him in negotiations with teachers’ unions and in the implementation of work requirements for Medicaid recipients. The memory of his 2014 primary challenge against Mitch McConnell still stung. Bevin fought the Republican-controlled legislature, blocked people on Twitter, and made up nicknames for his opponents. Stop me if this is sounding familiar.
Bevin’s Democratic opponent, Andy Beshear, was the son of the previous governor. Beshear attacked where Bevin was weakest, on education and health care, and did his best to avoid cultural issues such as gun control (he supports red-flag laws) and abortion (he’s pro-choice). He campaigned as if President Trump and impeachment did not exist. “This race is about nothing going on in Washington, D.C.,” he said on the trail. His localization of the race worked. Beshear attracted a high crossover vote—16 percent of Republicans. A Libertarian spoiler candidate also helped.
If Bevin strayed too far from the political golden mean, John Bel Edwards never wavered. When he was elected in 2015, Bel Edwards recognized the tenuous nature of his position as the Democratic governor of a deep-red state. He opposes gun control and abortion and worked with the Trump administration on criminal justice reform. He signed a pro-life heartbeat bill that alienated him from abortion rights groups but cemented his identity as an independent-minded Democrat. His Medicaid expansion enrolled half a million people who are wary of Republican cuts. He ran for reelection as the defender of the cultural and political status quo against businessman Eddie Rispone, who despite having an inspiring personal story lacked stage presence and was unable to tie Bel Edwards to the progressives in charge of the national Democratic Party. The incumbent won 51 percent to 49 percent.
Likability and empathy matter more than wonkiness and purity. In 2004, more voters held a favorable opinion of President Bush than of John Kerry, and Bush enjoyed whopping margins among voters who cared most about strong leadership, having clear positions, and telling the truth. In 2012, more voters held a favorable opinion of President Obama than of Mitt Romney, and voters said Obama was more in touch with the people. He also won among voters who said caring for others was a priority. In 2016 the electorate held unfavorable opinions of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but Clinton lost to Trump by 17 points among voters who disliked them equally. Trump narrowed the “cares about me” gap to 23 points from 63 points. And he won by an incredible 68 points on the most desired candidate quality: the ability to bring change.
Democrats have candidate attributes in mind as they evaluate potential 2020 nominees. A November 19 Gallup pollshowed that 60 percent of Democrats would rather have a nominee who has the best chance of defeating President Trump than one who agrees with them on the issues. A majority of Democrats surveyed said that Joe Biden is the most electable, with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren far behind at 16 percent and 15 percent. Half of Democrats would rather have a moderate as the nominee than a liberal or a conservative.
Biden’s strength among moderate Democrats and lead over Trump nationwide and in swing states are responsible for his frontrunner status. But the first caucus is more than two months away, and the rules of the Democratic primary give the party opportunities to choose an unlikable and extreme nominee. They have plenty of options.
Nor is President Trump out of the game. The New York Times/Siena poll of the battlegrounds found him within the margin of error against Biden. A November 20 poll of Wisconsin registered voters from Marquette University Law School has Trump leading Biden, also within the margin of error. Trump’s debut reelection ad acknowledges that “he’s no Mr. Nice Guy,” but touts a record of accomplishment that even Democrats recognize as impressive. And he will have plenty of time and resources to define his opponent negatively.
How ironic if Democrats so concerned with electability in the primary find themselves backing a flawed and uninspiring candidate in the general. Because, you see, fate can work that way in the Twilight Zone.