Who knew that House Republicans would embrace civil disobedience? About two dozen legislators led by Republican firebrand Matt Gaetz stormed the House Intelligence Committee meeting this morning to disrupt the proceedings, where Pentagon official Laura Cooper was supposed to testify about the transfer of funds to Ukraine. Against all the evidence, the congressmen keep claiming the hearings represent a kind of Star Chamber. They only left after they had the chance to gorge themselves on Domino’s pizza. At least they didn’t order chicken kiev. The stunt probably had President Trump’s blessing, who has been worrying that the Republican dominoes are about to fall as fresh revelations about his attempts to muscle over Ukraine emerge.
Trump has good reason to worry. For one thing, the loyalty of Republican senators to him has to be a question-mark. As evidence of a quid pro quo (QPQ) continues to surface — the New York Times reports that Ukraine was aware of a military aid freeze in early August, contrary to Trump’s asseverations — Republicans are starting to cast a more skeptical eye upon Trump’s political mortality. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a frosty rebuttal to Trump’s claim that he had told him that his call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was perfectly ‘innocent’. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have all raised their eyebrows over Trump’s conduct. Others could follow.
Or not. If Trump has shown one thing, it’s an uncanny survival instinct like something out of the movie The Revenant. Already Democrats are quaking about their own field — too left, too old, too moderate, too something. Both the Times and the Washington Post have run pieces in the past day about the anxieties of the bedwetters in the party. Depending on whom Democrats select they may need a copious supply of Depends. Hillary Clinton is supposedly mulling a run, but only if Joe Biden steps down. Hillary is reportedly elated that an internal State Department investigation gave her associates a clean bill of health on the handling of her emails, the issue that so vexed her campaign in 2016. Covetous glances are also being cast in the direction of Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile Oprah Winfrey is apparently exhorting Bob Iger, the head of Disney, to enter the race.
So far, however, Joe Biden has been crushing it, at least if you trust the latest polls. CNN, for instance, has Biden at 34 percent with Elizabeth Warren trailing him at 19 percent. Biden, more than any other candidate, is the one that Trump clearly fears, which is why he went to such lengths to try and tar him with the shenanigans of his son Hunter. As William Galston observes in the Wall Street Journal, the idea that the persuadable voters are an endangered species is bunk. On the contrary, the path is open for Democrats as long as they run a moderate candidate. He notes, ‘voters who may well decide the election don’t fit the profile of either Mr Trump’s most ardent supporters or the Democrats’ most fervent progressives. They are closest to the New Deal liberals who dominated the Democratic party when it enjoyed a governing majority.’
Maybe it really will be back to the future for the Democrats in 2020.