Archive for February, 2020

We Have Seen this Movie Before

“Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Here in 2020, the Democrats seem to have forgotten or never learned the lessons of 1972 and are on the path to a reprise. In case you weren’t around then, they lost the presidential election to the incumbent Republican, winning only a single state (Massachusetts) in the Electoral College.

Let’s set the stage. We had a Republican president, Richard Nixon, with solid control of his party and extremely disliked by the left. Although we didn’t know it at the time, he was also quite willing to support illegal activities and “dirty tricks” against the opposing party. Our current president, who admires Nixon but says it was a mistake to have resigned, is very public about his intention to use the power of his office against the opposing party, given that he has already tried it, been impeached for it, and walked away with an acquittal.

The Democrats were the party of youth — the leading edge of the baby boomers who opposed the Viet Nam war (and especially being drafted to fight it) and embraced the chant “power to the people”. The Democratic convention, promising to be totally inclusive and politically correct, was chaotic, contentious, and self-destructive. Schedule discipline disappeared, everybody had to have their say, and the nominee didn’t get to give his acceptance speech until after midnight, when most Americans had already given up and gone to bed.

It was not a performance that inspired confidence that these people could run the country.

The convention is still a ways off, but the Democrats running for president are showing all too well that they would rather fight each other than work together to beat Trump.  A comment I saw on Facebook described the last debate as “a circular shooting contest.”  The public (to the extent anyone was watching) will remember the accusations (mostly based on political correctness and liberal orthodoxy), including those against the eventual nominee.

If this pattern continues, the convention could be a rerun of 1972.  Similarly, believing that some kind of new ultra-liberal wave is just waiting out there is likely to produce the same result that it did in 1972.  That wave will once again be AWOL.

Mike Bloomberg is the only candidate showing that he sees the big picture and is spending, not only to boost his candidacy but to counteract Trump’s heavy advertising already running in many states.  Without Bloomberg’s ads, people in these states would be hearing only pro-Trump advertising.  Yes, his performance in the debate was weak, but in a mud-wrestling match, nobody comes out looking good.

The Democrats, and Democratic nominee, have to start showing that they actually know how run a railroad — this railroad called the federal government.  Their recent record is not good: the Iowa caucuses.  The 2016 election where the DNC had such an amateurish IT organization that their emails were easily hacked into. They were largely clueless about social media attacks, and their TV advertising was dated and uninspiring.

The game this time is going to be four years more advanced.  Plus, reports have now confirmed what we expected, or should have expected: the national security agencies have confirmed Russian intention to influence the US election again, specifically to support Trump.  Trump does not like that truth, and is using his powers as president against it.  Are the Democrats preparing for the real game ahead?  Or are they just going to repaint the flagpole?

At least say it on the record: Trump was wrong

In the next few days, there will be a ceremonial vote in the Senate trial that will acquit Trump of both articles of impeachment. There is zero chance that a two-thirds majority will vote to convict. It is likely that no Republicans will vote to convict, and even a few Democrats from states where Trump won in 2016 may also vote against it.

All but two of the Republicans have voted against calling witnesses – people that could provide first-hand information. That is a position that means “My mind is made up. I already know the facts.” However, some Senators have said publicly that they don’t need more witnesses because they already accept that yes, Trump withheld the Ukraine funds in order to pressure Ukraine’s President to announce an investigation that might be damaging to Trump’s opponent in the upcoming US presidential election. In other words, yes, it was a quid pro quo, and yes, it was wrong to have done that. Some senators said “inappropriate”, but in any event rejected Trump’s claims that he did “nothing wrong” and that his phone call and other actions were “perfect.” There are no Senators who have publicly said Trump’s actions were “perfect”, but all by their vote to acquit are at least saying those actions were not bad enough to require removal from office.

That, at least, is a logical, if also debatable, position. I said the same thing during the Clinton impeachment — he did some things that were wrong, but they were not remotely serious enough to justify conviction and removal.

So what, then? Just walk away with nothing more that “acquitted” as the result? There is another option – censure – which would at least say formally that the President’s actions were not “perfect.” The Senate can use censure to express disapproval for the record but not remove the office holder or legally restrict his future actions. A vote on censure would require all Senators to state publicly and for the record whether they believe the President did anything wrong at all.

Their duty to the Constitution and to their constituents requires them to be on the record on that point. If they refuse, the voters are entitled to conclude that they don’t have the guts to own their opinion.

Here is a more thorough description of the desperate state of Republican members of Congress under Trump.