Sunday, September 29, 2019

Welcome Aboard

In their puff piece, CNN's Dana Bash and Bridget Nolan recognized

When a group of moderate House freshmen Democrats moved from hard no to hell yes on starting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, they changed the dynamic for House Democrats, and indeed -- the course of history.

The reason they made their announcement and explained their reasoning as a group, in an op-ed in The Washington Post, is because they had already formed a bond over their national security background -- especially the five women: Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, both ex-CIA officers; Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania who was in the Air Force; Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia were Naval officers.

Joined by two male colleagues, they are in the process of making history.  They are centrists or center-left rather than progressives, thus individuals skeptical of impeachment but whose support in the House would be critical. They recently served in the armed forces and therefore possess are less likely than most Democrats to be smeared as unpatriotic. Moreover, they are female, which as Luke Russert could tell you, appeals to Speaker Pelosi.

Without irony, Bash notes that once they met on the 2018 campaign trail

They became fast friends, and called themselves the "badasses."

"I think badasses kind of came organically from the group since we all had either served in the military or in the CIA," Houlahan said.

(Warning: politically correct disclaimer ahead.) We honor and salute them for their service to country. But badasses? Not unless they're rehearsing for a stand-up gig at a comedy club.

While gushing about the congresswomen, Bash/Nolan claim (claims?)

Backing an impeachment inquiry is risky political business for these congresswomen -- some of the biggest political targets in the House. They are Democrats who won mostly in Trump territory by campaigning on kitchen table issues like health care and affordable prescription drugs.

Instead, it should be obvious, as Matt Stoller tweets, "the last five people out of hundreds to join in a decision are the definition of followers." Also

It is unfair to the Badass 5 to accuse them of being meek and having bad judgment.  Assuming (as Stoller and I would) that they are now making more sense than they did previously, they are merely meek but no longer lacking good sense and sound judgment. 

And they probably are more meek than even Stoller suggests. Although maintaining "if these (i.e., whistleblower) allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense, the B-5 add

We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.

We call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all authorities available to us, including the power of "inherent contempt" and impeachment hearings....

Notice the qualifying language "to consider the use of..." The Representatives have not "moved from hard no to hell yes on starting an impeachment inquiry," as Bash naively believes, but merely to consider actions including impeachment hearings. It's an improvement but let's cool our jets.

According to Mikie Sherrill, the news about Ukraine prompted the five to think "I think this has all changed. This is a bright line." There have been other bright lines, but at least they're not in the dark any longer.

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