In political scandals, the actual deed never gets anyone in real trouble. It’s the coverup that matters. Donald Trump knows this, which is why he admits to everything. “Yes, I did try to pressure the Ukrainian president. So what? It was the right thing to do.”
Whether or not you agree that it was the right thing to do, a coverup is not part of the narrative. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are trying to change that. Their strategy is to insist that the White House is trying to hide something by not allowing any witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial.
So far, Trump and Mitch McConnell seem to be in full control. But if the conversation changes from whether Trump did anything wrong to whether Trump was trying to cover something up they could find themselves behind an eight ball.
Update: January 12, 2020: Pelosi works on changing the narrative on ABC News’ “This Week” today: “Dismissing is a coverup. Dismissing is a coverup.”
The whole impeachment drama is starting to shape up less as an investigation of what Donald Trump might have done wrong and more of a constitutional battle. Trump’s position seems to be that a sitting president is immune from criminal prosecution, and Congress cannot investigate him for impeachment if its motive is ‘political’.
There is support for the first point. Many constitutional experts feel that presidents can only be criminally indited after they leave office. The reason? The Constitution provides a special way way to take a president down: impeachment.
Ttump is wrong on his second point. The Constitution does not give the president a pass if he feels that the impeachment is politically motivated. In fact, it almost always is. The president has to turn over the information that Congress requests. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld that principle back in the Nixon Watergate days.
Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are wasting an opportunity, They should print up little copies of the Constitution in booklet form. Blue covers with an American flag. Hand them out at every rally, debate and voter registration event.
Claim the Constitution as their issue.
Before the Republicans do.
During his campaign for president, Donald Trump famously employed tactics learned as a WWE wrestling personality. For example, he tried to unnerve Hillary Clinton by stalking her during their first debate.
So far in his presidency, Trump has appeared in public alongside fawning staff and sympathetic Republican politicians. But things will be different during his upcoming State of the Union speech.
Sitting right behind his lectern will be the person who just bested him politically, Nancy Pelosi. The cameras will be watching her like a hawk for any reaction to Trump’s speech: a frown, a smirk, a frozen smile, anything.
Trump will do his WWE best to goad her into a reaction that makes her look bad. Without a doubt he will turn around and fire a comment directly at her. The only question is how many times he does this. (The over/under is two.)
The bigger issue is whether Pelosi will be ready for it. One certainly hopes so, because a one-sided WWE match is really boring.
Hillary Clinton continues to be in the news once a week. And, unlike her husband, it is not for humanitarian or charitable reasons. No, Hillary continues to be in the thick of it politically.
The question is why. She is an accomplished policy wonk, but a failure as a politician. Sure she won election as a senator from New York in the afterglow of her husband’s presidency, but that was really his victory, not hers, as he was still president when the election took place.
On her own, she is a political disaster. She lost the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination to Barak Obama. She lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. Both times, she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Nevertheless, Hillary persists in the political arena (sorry, couldn’t resist). Why? Possibly because her ego won’t let her stand down. Or because Donald Trump keeps bringing her up to deflect from his own issues. Or because the media knows a juicy story and won’t leave her alone.
The biggest reason, however, is that a year after the election the Democrats don’t have any new leaders. Bernie Sanders was never a Democrat in the first place, and quickly moved back to his own path after the election. Nancy Pelosi is a great political operative but is completely tainted politically as a far left liberal. Chuck Schumer is the closest the Dems have to a leader, but he has been in Congress for 35 years and in the Senate for 20 and is old news.
Until the Democrats get some new leaders, the spotlight will default back to Hillary. Which is unfortunate for the Democrats, because she is not doing them any favors.
Does the Democratic Party stand for anything other that ‘not Trump’? One has to wonder. Since Donald Trump won the presidency they have lost two special elections. The key point both Dem candidates were campaigning on was simple and negative: reject Trump. They lost.
At least Trump has a positive message: We’re gonna shake things up with that fossilized bunch of do-nothing blowhards in Washington. And while we are at it we’ll fight for the people that have been left behind by technology, gloabalization, environmentalism, etc.
The Democrats? All they seem to be saying is: “Trump a horrible person. It’s amazing that people are stupid enough to support him. He is going to ruin the country.”
Dissing Trump and his supporters is not a party platform. The Democrats need a positive message, one that resonates right in the gut of the people that agree that Washington is broken and who are hard working but being left behind economically. These folks should be the Democrats’ core constituency but they have given them up to the Tea Party and Trump.
Until the Democrats come up with a compelling, gut-grabbing positive message they will not be able to win many elections. It will probably take a change in the Democrats’ leadership away from elites like Nancy Pelosi for this to happen.