The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 40
- Democrats’ eggs in the impeachment basket
- Biden keeps sinking
- Bevin a slight favorite in Kentucky
Impeachment: President Trump is not going to be impeached because of his chief of staff’s slip of the tongue — whether Mick Mulvaney was accidentally blurting out the truth or (as he now says) erroneously representing what had happened with respect to President Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Indeed, although Democrats are uniting around impeachment, and even drawing support from some House Republicans not up for re-election, their chances of actually removing Trump from office remain as close to zero as they ever were.
Given that they are now pretty much committed to voting on impeachment, Democrats face a serious vulnerability. All of their hopes are pinned at this point on getting the public — including significant numbers of Republicans — to support Trump’s removal. But once they do vote on it, they may find themselves to be the dog that caught the car. Aside from the partisans whose minds are made up, many Americans don’t understand impeachment yet, and may react negatively once it has actually happened. This is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi has avoided holding a vote to open a formal impeachment inquiry.
Again, Democrats’ problem is that there is no criminal basis for impeachment. Even if he acted inappropriately and abused power, Trump broke no laws in leaning on Ukraine’s president or even flagrantly asking for favors. Welcome to the world of diplomacy, where arrangements like Hunter Biden’s employment on a Ukrainian gas company’s board is actually pretty normal. It is the diplomatic modus operandi to make threats and deals and quid pro quos.
Democrats: The October Democratic debate was just one more sign of what we’ve long observed: Joe Biden is slipping. Is he falling victim to the same Trump curse that befell each GOP candidate in turn in 2015 and 2016 — back when each candidate fell away after taking him on?
The October debate was the first forum in which Elizabeth Warren was clearly the one to beat. She took quite a few blows — some of them well-laid — but she can still be pleased with and proud of the fact that everyone was gunning for her, whereas Biden was pretty much the invisible man.
Meanwhile, in addition to his subpar fundraising — he is now fundraising off his lack of cash — Biden finally released his cash-on-hand numbers. His pathetic $9 million treasury points to a campaign in disarray. His burn rate is far too high and his fundraising dangerously low. His campaign is lurching forward, fueled mostly by hype, and it’s anyone’s guess whether he can keep this up much longer.
A few observations about the other Democratic candidates:
Pete Buttigieg: The South Bend, Ind. mayor, who seemed to have peaked already, is not done yet. He is working to make himself the successor for Joe Biden’s moderate pole position. He is currently serving as the most visible foil to the more outlandish ideas coming from the likes of Beto O’Rourke and others, regarding gun confiscation and discrimination against religious sects. This seems like a long-shot strategy, but that Buttigieg is playing the vulture in this wayis a clear sign that everyone expects Biden’s candidacy to fall over and die any minute.
Kamala Harris: The bloom is off the rose. The sizzle is off the steak. Kamala Harris is just a subpar candidate, and the voters seem to have caught on beginning late in the summer. This once-viable candidate was brutally murdered on stage a couple of months ago by Tulsi Gabbard. The former California attorney general has never recovered from that verbal tongue-lashing. Not once in any of the debates since, or outside of them, has she managed to seize control of the stage the way she once did with her criticisms of Biden. She is now competing with Buttigieg for a distant fourth-place slot. Before you know it, Andrew Yang will be displacing her on her way down.
(Gabbard, by the way, has no chance at the nomination, but she is only helped by Hillary Clinton’s criticism that she is a Russian asset.)
Bernie Sanders is raising big bucks alongside Warren, but he isn’t expanding his support base. His dull, unimpressive showing at the October debate illustrates that he is desperate to regain some traction. He is hoping that his endorsement from AOC will right a ship that hasn’t had any direction for a very long time. Sanders should probably take his recent heart attack as a sign from God that he needs to quit the race. But of course, the moment he does get out, Warren will instantly benefit.
Kentucky: A late Mason-Dixon poll shows a tied race, at 46 percent, between Gov. Matt Bevin, R, and Attorney General Andy Beshear. Normally, this would be a bad sign for an incumbent. But in this case, we take it as a sign that Bevin should win.
Polling in Kentucky has strongly favored Democrats in recent years, as Bevin’s unexpected 2015 victory showed, and Mitch McConnell’s unexpectedly easy 2014 re-election. Especially at this moment, amid an increasingly partisan and ideologically charged national environment, Kentucky’s increasingly Republican bent is likely to help Bevin over the finish line in a tight race.
Bevin’s favorability is low at 36 percent and six percent net negative. But President Trump’s favorability in Kentucky is 55 percent, 22 points above water. Trump, whose influence in elections has been greater than his predecessors, should be able to pull Bevin up to victory.