Saturday, October 12, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 41

The prospects of a Presidential impeachment and the reactions toward it continue to dominate the political discussion. The last time a President was impeached, Jesse Ventura was the newly elected Governor of Minnesota and somebody much talked about as a potential Independent candidate. The former professional wrestler of course did not run that cycle nor in any since, in spite of some occasional chatter. Recently, the scarcely noticed one term Governor has said he is considered running in 2020 as an Independent.  I will be surprised if that happens, but it just might be that Ventura is now old enough to realize it is "now or never" if he ever wants to attempt the experience.

The same could probably have been said four years ago for Donald Trump. He went from an afterthought all the way to the Presidency. Again, the Ventura thing would be an even bigger long-shot to be sure, but he would have the potential take votes away from Trump among those who like the concept of a tough talking "pro wrestling style" politician along with protectionist views on the economy and isolationist views on foreign policy and "endless wars."

Much of this week on the policy front has focused on Trump's decision to withdraw troops from a part of Syria, which will then lead the Kurds, longtime U.S. allies, to potential annihilation from Turkey and it's authoritarian regime.Such a move is consistent with Trump's campaign promises to "bring troops home" and to stay out of conflicts in the Middle East. However, this policy is being roundly denounced by just about every politician outside of Rand Paul. Even Democrats whom for decades have called on the U.S. to be more restrained in military engagements are saying the Administration is making a mistake here. Many Republicans, who typically defend Trump on about everything, and whom have stood by him in the wake of the Ukranian related stories are expressing their disappointment and disbelief. For example, John Shimkus, a conservative Congressman from Downstate Illinois has said that because of this decision by the Commander in Chief, to remove his name from the list of people supporting Trump for reelection. It just so happens though that Shimkus is not seeking reelection and is thus less subject to political backlash. A sinking ship is still sinking though and it is fairly irrelevant how the holes got there to begin with.

Along those lines, Trump has continued to lash out at Utah Senator Mitt Romney over the past week. The words and Tweets may not matter much to Romney, but they are designed as a message to other Republicans who might dare step astray of defending Trump. To me, it seems that this past week has seen an escalation in desperation in regards to the way Trump and his allies are approaching impeachment, now in its third week as a reality. Despite proclamations that such a move would backfire on Democrats, polls are not showing that. In fact, one poll this week from Fox News, shows that 51 percent of Americans believe Trump should be removed from office.

Hearing those results from Fox News, whom Trump believes should literally be working for him, seemed to set him off, and escalated a previous series of warnings to the "fair and balanced" network about their coverage of him. While the primetime hosts on Fox News (with the curious exception of Tucker Carlson who has expressed misgivings over the Ukraine call) is still seen as in the tank for Trump, the newsrooms are said to be divided. Friday saw the abrupt departure of longtime anchor Shephard Smith who has at times been vocally anti-Trump while on the Fox News Channel.

The bunker mentality continues to settle in as Trump die-hards are saying they are done with Fox News after the latest polls showing a rough ride for the incumbent as well as widespread anger of Matt Drudge's "Drudge Report" a once friendly Trump online source of news stories that some believe has now turned against him. I do not know if that is necessarily the case, but the defensiveness on the part of Trump acolytes is hard to ignore these days. It should be remembered that Drudge literally made his name on a previous impeachment saga.

Trump still appears to enjoy rallies in front of adoring audiences. This week, he ventured into urban Minneapolis and drew a big crowd in a state not won by Republicans since 1972. He says he can turn the state red although current polls seem to say otherwise. At appearances like this, Trump genuinely demonstrates significant vocal stamina in speaking for long amounts of time. Except this to continue as well as the new strategy of profane denouncements of impeachment and his political opponents. The chants of "lock him up" , a version of which was once aimed at Hillary Clinton is now aimed at Joe Biden and his son Hunter. In spite of some predictions that Biden would immediately sink in the polls with all this talk about Ukraine, his national polling stances look pretty consistent. Of course, he still has much to worry about before he is close to winning the nomination.

The incumbent also trolled his old rival this week by Tweeting that Hillary Clinton should run against Elizabeth Warren for their party's nomination. I talked last week about how many Republicans have this vision of just such a thing happening Clinton's response was "Don't tempt me." Yeah, she wishes she was in a better position to run.

Twelve Democrats will  meet on CNN this week for the next in the series of debates. They will be faced with a two-front challenge of both attacking Trump and trying to differentiate them from their primary opponents. Impeachment will remain in the headlines, but next weekend, there will be talk about Bernie Sanders' health, Joe Biden's standing, Elizabeth Warren's political ceiling, and the potential for anybody else on stage to somehow break through.


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