A Week Of Three Stories

Sunday’s subject is most often the biggest political story of the week just passed. This week there were three huge stories that I have not covered to this point. There is a lot to try to cover so let’s explore.  

The first story started on Monday night and who knows when and if it will fully conclude. Of course, I’m speaking of the Iowa Democratic Caucus. At this point we know the most important things. Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders effectively tied in the delegate allocation which is all that really counts. Elizabeth Warren came in third which, while a bit weak, was good enough for a traditional “ticket out of Iowa” (this year there were more than three – more about that later). Joe Biden finished a very disappointing fourth and Amy Klobuchar fifth. No other candidate’s finish warrants a mention.

Iowa doesn’t end up being a major player in the final analysis but it is huge for early momentum and fundraising. Here are a few observations:

Buttigieg’s finish harkens back to Barack Obama’s somewhat surprising win in 2008. That made a lot of Democratic skeptics take a second look and they liked what they saw. There is no question that a lot of today’s Democrats have some doubt as to the viability of an openly gay candidate in a national election much like they questioned whether a black candidate could win nationwide in 2008. Buttigieg also has the good looks and youth that is somewhat reminiscent of John F. Kennedy who had to overcome the seemingly insurmountable handicap of being Catholic in 1960. Is Pete another Obama or Kennedy? Time will tell.

Iowa’s Democrats tend to be more liberal than Democrats as a whole. (On the other side Iowa’s Republicans tend to be more conservative than Republicans as a whole. This is part of what makes Iowa a very interesting purple state.) Did that help far left Bernie Sanders?

If Joe Biden comes in fourth again in New Hampshire – which at this writing looks very possible – the pressure is really on him to win and win big in South Carolina. He may still end up being the nominee but this is a dark hour for him and the heat is on.

Normally a fifth place finish in neighbor state Iowa would be a terrible blow for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. With the delay in reporting and all its surrounding controversy that finish got lost in the shuffle and ends up being just barely good enough.

Who knows when and if we will ever get rock solid final numbers but we have enough to concern me. The turnout was far from 2008’s record turnout. Does that reflect a lack of enthusiasm? Could it be that a lot of people were undecided and happy with any of two or more choices therefore decided to stay home?

I’m not going to get into whether Iowa should go first and/or if it should convert from a caucus to a primary today; perhaps another day. That being said, one reason to hold a caucus is that it is a wonderful opportunity to recruit volunteers. With what I’ll term a disappointing turnout will the Iowa Democratic party be able to have a sufficient ground game in the fall to defeat the vulnerable Joni Ernst along with Donald Trump and in the process net a swing of twelve Electoral College votes?

With Wednesday came the Senate verdict in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. On the first count only Republican Mitt Romney of Utah broke ranks with his Party to vote guilty. Much has been made of the courage that took. To me the biggest profile in courage was Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama. Jones is the only Democrat in serious jeopardy of losing his Senate seat in 2020. He is in a deep red state where Trump is extremely popular and only won his special election because the Republican nominee was credibly accused of child molestation and statutory rape. Even then Jones’ victory was extremely narrow. Since the result was never in doubt the safe political thing to do was vote not guilty thereby not giving your opponent any more ammunition to use against you. Jones voted the evidence, his oath and his conscious.

The larger issue is that by letting Trump skate the Republicans gave him a green light to do whatever he wants for the rest of the term very much including cheating in the 2020 election. You haven’t heard the last of me on this subject and its repercussions!

I’ve witnessed a lot of strange things during the Trump era but to date none stranger than the pep rally in the East Room on Thursday. Trump went on for over an hour calling out sycophants by name to give them their moment in the right wing sun and fundraising film clip. In the process he outlined his enemies list and promised revenge in no uncertain terms.

It has already begun. Attorney General Bill Barr announced a Justice Department policy – remember the FBI is part of the DOJ – that no investigations of a presidential campaign could even commence without his express approval. Does anyone serious think he will approve an investigation into the Trump campaign? The campaign of a Democratic candidate is a very different story.

Several Republican senators have requested financial records from the Treasury Department pertaining to Hunter Biden. The requests were honored at warp speed. This is the same Steve Mnuchin led Treasury Department that has taken a lawful Democratic House request for Donald Trump’s financial records to the Supreme Court.

On Friday Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified under subpoena, in the House investigation was escorted from the White House. Thursday Trump named him on his enemies list. You connect those dots. Expect more of this.

While it wasn’t as blatant in the past this is far from the first such instance of suppression, intimidation and retaliation. Remember James Comey’s firing? How about Andrew McCabe being denied his pension at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute? Then there is the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. How about Bill Taylor – who also testified in the House hearings – being recalled from Kiev? I’m sure there are others I can’t think of at the moment.

Here is the lesson that Democrats and other patriotic Americans either learn or will live to regret not learning: Trump has been unleashed. His history tells us that he will only be bolder and bigger in his sins. The 2020 Democratic candidates have to be ready for asymmetrical warfare, not standard free and fair elections. The American voters have to consider the sources and sensibility of the information they receive between here and the time they cast their votes. If the American republic is to be saved it is now clearly up to “we the people”!

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