Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Deal Worth Making

Steve M. notes that Senate Democrats have made their case that Trump should be impeached and believes that the congressional Democrats and their eventual presidential nominee eventually will "be better off if the trial is over soon, and is perceived as one-sided and unfair."  He wonders why "all the Republicans (are not) rushing to embrace" the proposal of Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that both John Bolton and Hunter Biden testify. He argues

If I were a Republican, I'd embrace it, for the most cynical reasons. If Democrats get John Bolton, Republicans will get Hunter Biden. If the Democrats' list lengthens, maybe Joe Biden is next for the Republicans, or maybe it's Adam Schiff or the whistleblower. The more witnesses the Democrats get, the more Republicans have a chance to make the case all about the Bidens, House Democrats, and the Deep State, after which they can use their superior messaging skills to proclaim that all their narratives have been borne out by witness testimony. (Schiff can hold his own, and I imagine the whistleblower can as well, but do you trust Hunter Biden on the witness stand? Do you trust Joe Biden, who can be maddeningly inarticulate, and who often seems to go into debates, especially in this election cycle, showing signs of having underprepared?)

Do you think testimony from Bolton, Mulvaney, or other witnesses on the Democrats' wish list will bust the case wide open? Why? Just because Bolton, in particular, appears willing to offer a firsthand account confirming Trump's guilt? The whole point of Alan Deshowitz's presentation last night in the trial was: It doesn't matter if Trump did it. You can't impeach him even if he is guilty of everything mentioned in the articles. Forty-plus percent of the country has believed from the beginning of Trump's presidency that literally nothing he does can be called a crime, or even an error in judgment. To these people, Trump is amazing. They're unbudgeable. Nothing said against him in the trial will matter to them. And if it doesn't matter to them, it won't matter to the Republicans who represent them in the Senate, who'll be thanked for their votes to acquit even after damning witness testimony.

This is accurate and insightful as far as it goes. However, there is a trade Democrats should offer.

Polls indicate that many Democratic voters have as their highest priority finding a nominee who would defeat President Trump.  It's impossible to determine now who that candidate is. However, a couple of Republicans, including Iowa senator Joni Ernst, think they know.

In an ad looking toward a possible presidential candidacy in 2024, Republican governor Rick Scott, as reported by Politico, "also vowed that, if witnesses are called in Trump’s impeachment, he’ll make sure Biden is called to testify." And it's clear he's not talking about Hunter because

“If that happens, he will be too cowardly to show up,” Scott said. “But if he did show up, here’s what I will ask him: Mr. Biden, why did you as vice president of the United States threaten a foreign country and force them to fire a prosecutor, who was investigating a company that was paying your son $83,000 a month?”

Earlier, this month, the Emperor himself:

Though probably wrong, Washington Republicans certainly seem to believe that the former senator and vice-president is the strongest candidate against The Chosen One. That is the reason- though only part of the reason- that they lust after the testimony of Hunter Biden. 

O.K., Democrats should say, "we'll play along,"  You want Hunter Biden we'll give you Hunter Biden. But we don't want John "Bombs Away" Bolton in return. We'll permit the testimony of Biden the Younger- but only after Donald J. Trump testifies.

Republicans would nix that deal because there is no one they want to shield from testifying more than Mr. Trump. They understand that as their king went down in flames, so, too, would their political career..

We'd be back where we are now, in which Republicans don't want witnesses while Democrats and the voters emphatically do. Only at that point it would be even more obvious that Republicans don't want witnesses, and that they denied the public an opportunity to hear from the one individual at the very center of this scandal.

Steve M., therefore, is right- Democrats should reject a Bolton for H. Biden deal. But a counter-proposal is nearly always appreciated by onlookers (voters, in this case) and a refusal by President Trump to testify would make very clear what still appears murky to some Americans.

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