How Democrats Should Play Their Hand October 02, 2019

Now that the polling is starting to show support for Trump’s impeachment, the cynic in me is worried that Democrats could still blow this thing. Remember, this is a political party that can screw up a sunset. So, how should Democrats proceed?

But before I get to that, I want to give a shout out to Nancy Pelosi. While many – myself included – were screaming for her to begin an impeachment inquiry months ago, she refused to budge. Instead, she’s been incredibly disciplined and strategic throughout this whole process, biding her time, waiting for just the right moment to pounce. I’ve learned many times not to underestimate this Speaker. Trump, it appears has stumbled right into her trap. That being said, Democrats’ success hinges on them being as disciplined and strategic as Pelosi in their inquiry.

I’ve gone back and forth with this. My gut tells me that Democrats should go for the jugular with this president by piling on as much shit as they can, even if it means going into next year. We are, after all, talking about the most corrupt and lawless president in American history. The guy has left enough bread crumbs to construct a bakery.

But my head tells me that would be a colossal mistake. The reason the polling has swung so decisively against Trump in just the last few days is because, unlike the Mueller Report, which was 448 pages long and dealt with many issues that were difficult for people to parse through, this issue is pretty cut and dried. The President of the United States, on a phone call to Ukrainian president Zelenskiy, used his position of authority to illicit help from him to advance his political prospects against a potential rival in the 2020 election. Both the written transcript that the White House released and the written complaint that the whistleblower presented to the Inspector General confirm this.

There, that’s it. Simple and straightforward. No convoluted details that can be open to interpretation. It’s called quid pro quo, and whether you’re the head of a Fortune 500 company or the guy filling your tank at the local gas station, people get it. Trump can spin it all he wants, but this time his own big mouth was what got him in trouble. Not Robert Mueller and not the mean old Democrats.

So with that in mind, I’m thinking the best way to nail this asshole is to listen to Pelosi and keep it simple. Stick to the phone call with Zelenskiy, and any and all parties connected to it. If they won’t cooperate, hold them in “inherent” contempt. Let them know you’re not fucking around. Borrow a page out of Trump’s playbook: don’t drill out, drill down. Yes, Trump has committed more offenses than a leopard has spots, but you’re not going to get anywhere going down that rabbit hole. Besides, most of the American public knows he’s corrupt. What you want to do is damage him so much that he’s mortally wounded come next November.

Much has been said and written about how many Republicans in the Senate might vote to convict Trump. Chris Cillizza thinks that as more and more details emerge in this scandal, enough of them might jump ship to save their hides and vote to remove him from office. I respectfully disagree. While I agree it would be logical for the GOP to abandon this president and, as former Arizona senator Jeff Flake wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, “save its soul,” that isn’t likely to happen. You have to have a soul in order to save it. And like their lawless leader, this motley bunch has no moral compass, either. Apart from appointing conservatives to the bench, rolling back regulations and giving massive tax cuts to the rich, there’s no evidence that this “grand” old party has any grand vision for the country whatsoever. Jesus, Tony Soprano’s crew had more integrity.

And Flake is hardly in a position to chastise his former colleagues. He was the one who cut and ran rather than stay and fight. His decision to not seek reelection translated into a pickup for Democrats in last year’s midterms. Besides, what are people like Flake, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld selling? A kinder, gentler vision of a bankrupt agenda? We tried that with George H.W. Bush. It worked so well Bill Clinton beat him in the 1992 election. Face it, most of Trump’s critics within the Republican Party approve of his policies, they just don’t like his demeanor and rhetoric. Sorry, GOP, you dance with the devil, you go home with the devil.

This isn’t about removing Trump from office via impeachment; it’s about putting the Senate in play for 2020. Like I wrote in an earlier piece, there are several Republican senators up for reelection next year in swing states that are not looking forward to casting a vote either for or against conviction. If they vote to convict, they risk the ire of this president; if they vote to acquit, they risk pissing off moderates who will be critical to their chances of winning.

By my count, four states are currently up for grabs: Maine, North Carolina, Colorado and Arizona. I never thought I’d see the day when Arizona became a swing state, but this president’s policies have made that possible. Depending on what Steve Bullock does, it’s possible that Montana might come into play as well. Ditto for Georgia if Stacey Abrams decides to jump into the race for either of the two Senate seats in that state.

The best strategy for Dems is to move quickly with at least one, possibly two articles of impeachment against Trump by Thanksgiving and then refer it to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell is on record as saying he will go forward with a trial. Assuming old turtle face keeps his word – and that is a big assumption – sometime right around the Iowa caucuses, we should have the final tally. I’ll be optimistic and say maybe three or four “brave” souls vote to convict. The rest will stick with this president like Krazy Glue. What is more likely to happen is that Republicans will vote to censure Trump for his conduct rather than convict him.

But the damage will be done. A badly wounded president and a precarious Senate majority will limp into the fall election next year, and whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be able to run on a platform of restoring integrity and honor to the White House. Whether that’s Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren is yet to be determined. I still think Biden is the best candidate, but there’s no denying Warren’s appeal. She’s run a very solid campaign so far.

This is far worse than Watergate. And Trump is far more dangerous than Nixon. Democrats must make that obvious to the nation or it’s over.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

What say you, the people?