The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

It’s the height of summer, and Iowans will cast the first votes in the presidential election in the snows of winter. But in the ranks of political punditry, the forecasts for 2020 are already dire and cloaked in certitude.

The prevailing belief is that Democrats are courting disaster by veering left, spurning sober moderation and obsessing over the plight of groups divorced from the American mainstream. Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle fears Democrats are signing “an electoral suicide pact.” They could push working-class folks, suburban women and anxious independents into the small hands of Donald Trump.

The conventional wisdom rests on some undeniable facts. in the past few years, the Democratic party has gotten more liberal and more attentive to the concerns of women, racial and religious minorities and LGBTQ people. Some candidates have expressed views that would not win cheers at the average Rotary Club luncheon.

Republicans think they got an early Christmas gift when everyone on the second debate stage raised a hand for extending health insurance to undocumented immigrants. The “Medicare for All” contagion may not infect centrist voters who fear tax increases and loss of private coverage. Kamala Harris’ resurrection of the issue of mandatory busing to integrate schools may hurt Joe Biden, the candidate considered most likely to pull blue-collar whites away from Trump.

But at this point, neither high anxiety among Democrats nor premature celebration from Republicans is in order. Some important realities should be kept in mind, such as:

— It’s early — very early. In August 2011, Rick Perry was the highest-polling Republican candidate, and Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. At this point in 2007, the GOP front-runners were Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. In July 2003, Howard Dean bestrode the Democratic field like a colossus. Maybe Harris will triumph by making Biden look like Bull Connor. Maybe Elizabeth Warren will climb to the nomination on a stack of policy plans. Maybe Bernie Sanders will win by shouting everyone down. Or maybe they’ll all turn out to be meteors rather than stars.

— Moderate voters are not potted plants. Biden is still atop the polls, the seasoned veteran of two winning national campaigns as Barack Obama’s running mate. The other day, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin offered a list of things Biden must do to win. The object of her free advice has won seven Senate elections; Rubin has not. We should not overlook the possibility that Biden knows what he’s doing.

— Policies, even eyebrow-raising ones, are overrated. Ideology counts for a lot more with party die-hards than with swing voters. Candidate Trump took positions more extreme than the Democrats have, calling for a ban on Muslim arrivals, endorsing the torture of suspected terrorists, vowing to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and threatening to punish women who get abortions. Plenty of Americans voted for him despite those positions, not because of them.

Democrats may get the benefit of many doubts in 2020 because Trump and his party decry every position Democrats take, no matter how temperate, as a symptom of fanatical, America-hating radicalism. The boy who cried wolf eventually ensured that he would not be believed, making it easy for the wolf to eat him.

— Trump is incurably unpopular. From the day he took office to the present, more people have disapproved of his performance than have approved of it. A May Quinnipiac poll found that 54% of Americans say they “definitely” won’t vote for him.

Nationally, Democrats outpolled Republicans in the 2018 House elections by 8.6 million votes. The GOP insists Democrats are out of touch with the average American, but they’ve won the popular vote in six of the last seven elections. The Electoral College won’t always come to Republicans’ rescue.

A strong economy is normally a huge asset for an incumbent. But during the longest expansion in American history, with most people agreeing that the economy is doing well, most think the country is on the wrong track. A good economy may not buoy Trump, and any setback could sink him.

Republicans would like to believe that the Democrats’ gross defects and crazy opinions will doom them in 2020. But they may learn from this election what many Americans learned in the last one, and have often been reminded since: Your worst nightmare can come true.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}