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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Elaine Godfrey explains why “The Democrats Aren’t Really in Disarray Over What to Do About Mueller: Lawmakers are, for the most part, united behind three immediate goals” at The Atlantic: “A review of Democratic lawmakers’ statements and interviews with more than a dozen Democratic House aides demonstrate that while there are some stylistic differences in how lawmakers are choosing to respond to the Mueller report’s findings, almost all of them agree on three immediate goals: They want to read the full, unredacted report. They want both Attorney General William Barr and Mueller to testify before Congress. And they want each of the relevant House committees to proceed with their investigations. They may argue in the meantime about what the end goal of those efforts should be, but overall, claims of Democratic dysfunction belie these points of consensus…Democratic lawmakers across the ideological spectrum have reacted to the report with varying degrees of urgency and outrage, but almost all of them—progressives and moderates alike—are demanding the same follow-up steps, starting with the release of the unredacted Mueller report, which House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler subpoenaed on Friday…Democrats have an incentive to appear on message, which could account for some of the agreement. There are genuine tensions in the party about how aggressively Democrats should go after the president in light of the special counsel’s findings.”

At Politico, Steven Perlberg’s “How the Intercept Is Fueling the Democratic Civil War: The national security site has found fresh energy as a savvy, progressive attack dog in national politics. But is it undermining its own side?” provides a number of provocative observations about the Glen Greenwald-founded, Pierre Omidyar-funded online news outlet, including: “The Intercept faces a political question, as well: As the Democratic Party strives to mount a coherent attack against a president it loathes, will the site’s belligerent strategy be effective, or will it handicap the only Democrats who have a serious chance of capturing the White House? Depending on whom you ask, the Intercept is either cleansing the Democratic Party and pushing it to be more accountable to voters and regular people—or it is a Breitbart of the left, trafficking in drive-by hit pieces, an approach that will ultimately undercut the larger goals the site supports. Says one Democratic operative, frustrated with the Intercept’s relentless attacks on the Democratic center: “Grim apparently doesn’t ever want to win an election again and is dead set against anyone who does.””

The winner of the 2016 popular vote for President of the United States has some advice for Democrats regarding impeachment: “My perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of [Russian President] Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country…We have to remember that this is bigger than politics…Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress share the constitutional responsibility to protect the country … It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless…For today’s Democrats, it’s not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it’s essential … It’s critical to remind the American people that Democrats are in the solutions business and can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

From “Kate Manne on why female candidates get ruled “unelectable so quickly, in a vox.com interview by Ezra Klein: “Because I think of misogyny as a hostility women face, rather than a psychological property men feel, I think it’s been coming across pretty clearly in the population-level patterns of how much support female candidates are getting compared to white male candidates. It’s depressing watching the four Bs — Biden, Bernie, Beto, and Buttigieg — rise in the polls and generate enthusiasm beyond the substance that may be there while women trail behind them with no plausible explanation for why we see that striking pattern. It’s always possible it’s just due to the female candidates being less exciting, but I have a hard time believing it in this race…My worry is electability is a smokescreen for for this sadly common thing, which is not wanting to support a female candidate…If we knew for sure that a candidate couldn’t beat Trump, that would be reason not to support them. But electability isn’t a static social fact; it’s a social fact we’re constructing. Part of what will make someone unelectable is people give up on them in a way that would be premature, rather than going to the mat for them. If you’re really worried that an otherwise excellent candidate won’t be elected, isn’t that a reason to fight if there’s a decent chance that people can be brought around and convinced?”

If elected, former Vice President Joe Biden at age 78, would become the oldest person ever inaugurated President of the United States. But the other side of age is experience. In “Biden Would be Arguably the Most Experienced New President Ever,” Kyle Kondik writes that  “Biden has spent 44 years in major elected office: He served from 1973 to 2009 in the Senate, and then an additional eight years as vice president. He had successes in that role, and Biden’s time as vice president makes him a credible presidential contender, as VP expert Joel Goldstein argued in a Crystal Ball piece earlier this year. If one also counts Biden’s pre-Senate elected experience, two years on the New Castle County Council, he has 46 years of elected experience…Biden’s 46 years of formal public office experience would dwarf that of the current leader, Democrat Martin Van Buren, whose 31 years in public office currently stands as the highest total of public office experience of any incoming president, according to Vox’s count. The leaders in military experience are Whig Zachary Taylor and Republican Dwight Eisenhower, both of whom served for roughly four decades in the military prior to being elected president.”

In “Impeachment: The False Choices,” Robert Kuttner writes at The American Prospect: “If some Democrats think that an impeachment will crowd out discussions of, say, debt relief for college students, or shoring up Social Security, or a massive public infrastructure program, or an expansion of Medicare, they misunderstand politics, and underestimate the voters…People are actually capable of focusing on more than one thing. And the more Trump is consumed by defending himself against the corrupt reality of his presidency and calling on Republicans to spend political capital to save his sorry neck, the more he is weakened in general…Moreover, as Elizabeth Warren put it so well, there is a constitutional duty to impeach, whether or not it is politically convenient. In fact, there is no contradiction between pursuing an impeachment and debating other issues where Trump’s position is unpopular.”

“The point of the next several months is to build a national dialogue about the Trump administration’s rampant corruption,” Alex Shephard writes in “Should Democrats Impeach Trump? Wrong Question. Allowing the president’s crimes and misdemeanors to take a backseat to impeachment’s political implications does little to emphasize the rule of law” at The New Republic. “There is no vexing, existential, binary quandary that needs an immediate answer. “To impeach, or not to impeach,” that is not the question. Impeachment, after all, is a process—a lengthy one at that—and not a magic wand. Democrats can and should build the case against Trump—and, perhaps, the impeachment case against Trump—publicly, in the form of hearings and other investigations. Through the public testimony of Robert Mueller and William Barr, and of administration officials and Trumpworld associates like former White House Counsel Don McGahn, former Communications Director and Trump confidant Hope Hicks, and, perhaps, members of Trump’s own family, a narrative of this administration’s high crimes and misdemeanors is likely to emerge.”

Shephard continues, “Contrary to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments last month—“Impeachment is so divisive to the country … I don’t think we should go down that path”—it is that path that will help locate a national point of consensus. Pelosi may have been right in concluding Trump is “just not worth it,” but the Constitution is…For other Senior Democrats, however, there is a third path, and it’s probably the best one—one that takes into account the president’s wrongdoings, and likely the politics, as well. Now that the Mueller report is out in the open, House hearings can probe the president’s many scandals—not only looking at obstruction of justice and “collusion,” but also a host of other issues, from the Trump administration’s shameful handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to the president’s financial dealings and cozy relationship with strongmen, industrialists, and oligarchs…It’s a wide-angled approach, but one that endeavors to put the scope of the president’s misconduct on full display. These hearings may very well turn up impeachable offenses, but they also have the secondary effect of highlighting the Democrats’ best message heading into 2020: That they are a party bent on restoring good government, not just on ousting a bad president.”

At HuffPo, Ariel Edwards-Levy reports “Most Democrats harbor a deep dislike for Fox News, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. But fewer than 1 in 5 have a problem with Democratic candidates choosing to appear on the network, with most saying they don’t have any opinion on the matter…The new survey found that nearly three-quarters of Democrats hold an unfavorable view of Fox News, with 59% saying they feel strongly unfavorable toward it…Only 6% of Democrats describe themselves as regular viewers…Just 18% of Democrats say that Democratic presidential candidates should refuse to make appearances on Fox News. Twenty-seven percent say that candidates should go on the network, but 55% ― the majority ― say they either aren’t sure or don’t really care.”

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