Saturday, November 23, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 47

Well, now that Wayne Messam, the Mayor of Miramar, Florida has finally exited the Presidential contest on the Democrat side, the race can really begin in earnest, right?

This was a news-heavy week, and one where a ten candidate debate took a backseat to many hours of testimony and partisan wrangling before the House Intelligence Committee. We learned this week, if there was any doubt, that Donald Trump will soon be impeached and the process will intensify. The sworn testimony of witnesses did not go well for the Trump White House. The facts of what Trump and his underlings, both inside and outside of government did, are hard to deny and the motivations are clear. Still, in spite of it all, there are no signs of Republicans, even in relatively small numbers determining that they will support the Impeachment vote or removal in the Senate. Thus, Trump looks likely to be acquitted and of course re-nominated. He will then have to face the voters and a Democrat opponent who will have endured a brutal process of their own. Will the people then determine that the rule of law matters more than the pursuit or wielding of power? Will fear of economic upheaval through drastic policy initiatives make all of that moot?

We are living in a time where our politics, from the Oval Office on down are as mean and personal as they have been in the memories of anyone living. People have come to accept that as a matter of fact. At the same time, a film extolling the virtues of the late Mr. Rogers is likely to be a big box office winner this week. What a dichotomy we find ourselves in as the final weeks of this decade tick down. You cannot get much different than Mr. Rogers and Mr. Trump.

Where we last left off, voters in conservative Louisiana were voting in the Gubernatorial run-off. As I predicted, a close contest went to the incumbent Democrat, John Bel Edwards. Since Trump actively campaigned against him, this was chalked up as another loss. However, Edwards is about as conservative on social issues as it gets for Democrats and thus hard for some in the party to celebrate his win, considering the absolute dismissal they have for anybody who might hold Pro-Life views.

On Wednesday night, ten Democrats took the stage in Atlanta. For the most part, Joe Biden had his best debate, at least until the final portions. Then, he made some gaffes, and those continue to get replayed. Still, nobody really went after him too effectively and he might have won based on that. Instead, there were some modest efforts to stop the momentum of outgoing South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who has soared to the top of the polls in Iowa and may very well be on the rise in New Hampshire as well. Mayor Pete, one of the youngest candidates to ever be a serious contender for the Presidency is beloved by many white liberals and also by Democrats who think he fits an electable profile. Young voters and gay voters love him and are excited about his campaign. However, African-Americans, who make up a significant portion of the Democrat electorate are extremely lukewarm on this candidacy per polls. Some point to some questions regarding race during his time as Mayor. For others, his youthfulness and the fact that his gay have caused many Democrats (who are considered to be hip and "woke" by many in society) to rule him out right from the start.

As the debates continue and new candidates try to find their way into the fray, much of the nomination contest remains uncertain. What will happen if Buttigieg wins Iowa and then either neighboring Senator Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire? Where will Joe Biden have placed? Can he afford to finish in third or fourth place in those states and then rely on strong support from African-Americans in South Carolina to give a new birth to his campaign or will the damage be done?

Many in the field are biding their time hoping to pick up if Biden stumbles, while others are now also looking for a time when Buttigieg may fade off and they can pick up his support. What is also true is that Warren and Sanders continue to compete for the same share of the vote. For months, Warren was said to be beating Sanders in that lane race, but over the last month, Sanders may have inched back ahead of his colleague. Warren has taken hits for perceived unelctability and finding it difficult to explain how to pay for her proposals such as Medicaid for All. Recently, she revised her goal to say that it might take three years to enact what she had suggested would begin right away.

For one thing, the heart attack had by Sanders is almost forgotten at this point and has maybe even helped him. Those who admire a bleeding heart liberal mean it literally as well as figuratively. While some fans of Warren are scared she may not be able to beat Trump, those who like Sanders either do not believe that it applies to their candidate or do not care. They are true believers, not pragamitists.

One could write a book or screenwrite a mini-series based on the testimony in Washington this past week. Distinguished Americans both non-partisan, and those associated directly with Trump, such as the case of Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, have made it clear that Trump, despite words to the contrary, did expect a quid pro quo from  Ukraine in which military aid was held up until they would announce that they were investigating Hunter Biden and long debunked stories about interfering against Trump in the 2016 election. Significantly, Trump believed that Ukraine just had to announce the investigations, not actually do them. So this was definitely all about the Bidens and all about his political standing. Yes, the money that Congress appropriated to help Ukraine was eventually released, but only after this scheme went public. Who benefits most from harm to Ukraine? Russia and Vladimir Putin of course.

Without being able to dispute the facts, Trump partisans took to attacking the witnesses or claiming what they said helped Trump in some pretty severe cases of goal post moving. Some side with Trump and say everything he did was "perfect" while others are willing to admit he did something wrong, but would prefer some sort of "censure" rather than removing him from office so close to an election. That line of thinking will be important to watch in the weeks ahead, especially since Trump is almost certain not to go for it and is saying now he wants a full trial in the Senate and the right to call all sorts of Democrats as witnesses, including the Bidens.

The fact that even Republicans critical of Trump's foreign policy such as "retiring" Congressman Will Hurd, a promising young star from Texas are saying that they do not believe these facts rise to the level of impeachment is a sign that the vote to impeach and ultimately the vote in the Senate will be nearly all along partisan lines. Thus, we know how the story will end, at least how it will end this winter. What exactly would rise to the level of impeachment for these Republicans?

This process will continue to divide the American people in the coming political year, but to me, the verdict of history is more important. This is a mirror held up to who we are as a society. How we got to the place we did, where character and honor is secondary to wealth or perceived accomplishments is a long story. This battle was a big part of the 1996 campaign that I remember so well.  The Democrats won that one and now when they find themselves on the other side, they are reaping what they once sowed.

Some like me though are on the same side now as I was then. Honor is more important than wealth. Danger is preferable to disgrace. In the words of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an American patriot and war hero, who despite being the target of partisan attacks, spoke out in Congress this week, in a way he never would have had the freedom to do in his native Soviet Union, "in America, right matters."


Post a Comment

<< Home