The Silver Lining for Democrats

There’s this scene from the movie Die Hard, in which the villain, Hans Gruber, is looking for a diversion so he and his murderous gang can make off with the bearer bonds that are locked in the vault at Nakatomi Plaza, when two agents from the F.B.I. decide to cut the power to the tower. The power, as it turns out, is the thing keeping the vault from automatically opening up.

Upon realizing his good fortune, Hans turns to one of his cohorts and remarks, “You ask for miracles, I give you the F.B.I.”

Look, guys, I realize it’s been a tough few days since Sgt. Schultz, AKA, Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of the Mueller report. Personally, I was so depressed, I decided to watch a Knicks’ game on Sunday. I thought it would better than banging my head against the wall. It really wasn’t.

And I know that watching President shit-for-brains and his contingent of enablers gloat has been insufferable. Kevin McCarthy, who brings new meaning to the term minority leader, is calling for Adam Schiff to step down from his position as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is really quite hysterical when you consider that for two whole years that committee was run by Devin Nunez, a man who had more frequent flyer miles to the White House than a flight attendant has on the red eye to Chicago.

But, cheer up, my buckaroos. For like the aforementioned movie, fate appears to have intervened to save the day, even if may not seem that way right now. Before you suggest that maybe I did, in fact, bang my head against that wall, let me explain.

First off, all we have is Barr’s summary, and that summary appears to have taken some peculiar liberties that a less conflicted attorney general would never have taken. For instance, when your lead prosecutor says the subject of a criminal investigation – which is what Trump was and is – cannot be fully exonerated, it is proper to say that there is insufficient evidence at this time to proceed with an indictment, therefore we are referring the matter to Congress for further adjudication; it is not proper to say, as Barr did, that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” The former leaves the matter open for further investigation by the appropriate branch of the government; the latter closes the door entirely. Even a first-year law student would know that in a criminal proceeding, unless you’re up against a statute of limitations, you keep the case file open as long as possible.

And that’s why it is absolutely essential that Democrats get their hands on Mueller’s report; and by report, I mean the full report, not a summary. If Barr wants to give it to the committee chairs first, fine, but then both Houses should get a copy and then the American people must see for themselves what Mueller found out in his own words. If they have to subpoena the DOJ to get it, then do so. They should also call Mueller to testify in an open hearing and let him give his side of the story. Even if he can’t divulge grand jury testimony on still active cases, something is better than nothing. As for calling Barr, I seriously doubt that would help. At this point, he would only repeat the same drivel he gave at his Senate confirmation hearing. Two times zero is still zero.

But the real silver lining here is that, thanks to Barr and maybe even Mueller, Democrats can now focus on the real issues that will determine the 2020 presidential election. Let’s face it, had Mueller come back with a scathing report recommending Trump and his whole family be indicted for collusion and obstruction, as fulfilling as that would’ve been for those of us who know he’s dirty, it would’ve changed nothing.

Admit it: there was no way that Democrats were going to remove Trump from office through impeachment. No amount of evidence presented by Mueller would’ve moved the needle among Republicans enough to get to the magic number of 67 “yes” votes to convict in the Senate. You know it and I know it. All a recommendation of indictment by Mueller would’ve accomplished is to further polarize a country that is already on a razor’s edge. If you think Trump’s smugness was too much to take, imagine his response had the Mueller report been as bad for him as all us were hoping for. The Battle of Gettysburg would’ve looked like an arm wrestling match by comparison.

Now times that response by a factor of ten going into next year. Imagine Trump’s supporters going bat-shit crazy, 24/7 about Mueller, the Democrats and the “coup.” Imagine every single Democratic candidate having to deal with this day in and day out throughout the entire campaign. This, not healthcare or the middle class, would be the defining issue going into the most consequential election since the Reconstruction era. Trump’s base would turn out in droves to save their hero, while the Democratic base, disheartened and, perhaps, disillusioned would likely stay home. The result? Four more years of Cadet Bone Spurs slowly turning the United States of America into a banana republic.

With the prospects of a Trump impeachment now completely off the table, Republicans will be forced to come up with actual ideas. The last time they had to do that it didn’t go well for them. Turns out the GOP isn’t all that popular when it comes to their policies. That’s what happens when you try to take away people’s healthcare coverage and you give billions of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, while screwing hard-working, middle-class families out of their deductions. Ever wonder why not one Republican ran on the new tax law last year?

Democrats desperately needed the narrative to change and now that it has, they can do what they did so well in the 2018 midterms: talk to the electorate about meat and potato issues that affect their daily lives. Wonks like me may fixate on Russian collusion and obstruction of justice, but out there in real America, voters, for the most part, could care less about those things. What they care most about are issues like rising healthcare costs, paying for their kids tuition, the potholes on the roads, their taxes that keep going up and the fear they won’t be able to retire.

I’m not suggesting that a foreign government conspiring to undermine this country’s electoral system is not a serious threat to our democracy. Or that this president, whether overtly or not, did everything within his power to discredit a legitimate investigation into that meddling. Far from it. What I’m suggesting is that, given what has just transpired, it is time to shift gears and move on to greener and more productive pastures. The House should continue to hold hearings, though if I were running the show I’d concentrate on things like Trump’s financial records and tax returns. Remember, that’s how they got Capone.

And on the campaign trail, it is imperative that each and every candidate turn the page right now. If you want to remove Trump from office, do it through the ballot box. Instead of focusing on his scandals, which is what he wants, focus on his policies. There is very strong case to be made here.

Exhibit number one comes courtesy of Trump’s own justice department, which on Monday said it would support the decision by District Judge Reed O’Connor which held that since Congress voted to rescind the tax on the Affordable Care Act’s mandate, that meant the entire law was unconstitutional. If the decision is upheld by the Supreme Court, millions of people would lose healthcare coverage and millions more would be at the mercy of pre-existing clauses that were rendered illegal by the Act.

It is a brazen and despicable move, but hardly surprising given that since he took office, Trump has tried repeatedly to repeal the law that bears his predecessor’s name. So obsessed is he with destroying the legacy of Barack Obama that he had what can only be described as a meltdown on Twitter last weekend that was directed almost exclusively at John McCain, a man who’s been dead for almost a year, but whose “no” vote on the floor of the Senate allowed the ACA to survive.

And now that obsession has given the Democratic Party an enormous opportunity that it otherwise wouldn’t have had. Trump’s vindictiveness and his propensity for needlessly shooting himself in the foot are still his biggest liabilities going into the 2020 election. The best thing Dems can do is let him and his entire party bleed out.

Think about it: Twenty-four hours ago the major news story that most of the media was talking about was the Mueller report. Now it’s healthcare. And that’s because a very insecure, incredibly petty little man, who caught the break of a lifetime through the generosity of his own attorney general, couldn’t leave well enough alone and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

To paraphrase old Hans, “You ask for miracles, I give you the G.O.P.”

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?