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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Case for Narrowing Democratic Messaging on Impeachment

Just how should Democrats make the case for impeachment? Marik Von Rennenkampff, a former State Department analyst and Obama appointee to the Defense Department  shares some thoughts in his link-rich article “Why aren’t Democrats weaponizing Fox News on impeachment?” at The Hill:

If historically-timid Democrats take their dedication to the rule of law and the Constitution seriously, they’ll realize that much of Trump’s political base is impervious to arguments – no matter how logical or factually sound – made outside of the truth-starved, conspiracy theory-peddlingright wing media bubble. Welcome to Trumpian America.

With that reality in mind, Democrats should relentlessly promote the astutely spirited analysis of Fox News’ chief judicial correspondent. Judge Napolitano has stated on multiple live television interviews that in pushing a foreign leader to perform a political “favor” for him, Trump engaged in “criminal and impeachable behavior.” In an era where powerful right wing echo chambers reign supreme, Napolitano’s assessment is a messaging gold mine for constitutionally-minded (yet painfully PR-illiterate) Democrats.

Yes that Fox News. Now take a deep breath and read on.

Indeed, given Fox News’ catnip-like effect on Trump’s red-meat base, one must ask why Democrats are not squeezing every ounce of messaging value out of Napolitano’s spot-on legal analysis. Democrats, apparently, continue to lack the go-for-the-jugular mentality that their right wing counterparts have successfully embraced for decades.

Judge Napolitano’s blistering take, especially in the context of the roiling internal conflict between Fox News’ reporting and commentary divisions, should be a Democratic talking point, repeated ad nauseam, in every single media appearance. The same goes for Fox News characterizing a series of text messages exchanged by U.S. diplomats as “devastating” to Trump. Equally noteworthy is a former Republican senator’s stunning suggestion that “at least 35” of his former GOPcolleagues would privately vote to impeach Trump.

The beauty part is that weak-kneed Republican Senators and House members are extremely worried about the votes of Trump’s MAGA-hats, most of whom either watch the hell out of Fox News or take their voting tips from friends and family members who do so. As Rennenkampff notes, “Relentless promotion of these explosive Fox News pieces knocks the GOP on its heels and forces Trump’s base into the challenging position of defending its own propaganda machine.”

It may be that few hard-core Trump supporters will be swayed by such a campaign. But confronting GOP politicians with Napolitano’s “blistering take” accompanied by the Fox logo should make them squirm. Further, Rennenkampff writes,

Democrats can start with the issue of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. Why, after five years, did Trump suddenly and unilaterally halt critical American military aid to an ally at war? Trump’s own national security team – let alone Congress, which authorized the funding – was left utterly baffled and blindsided by the decision. The same goes for the Ukrainians.

Make that “an ally who fought alongside Americans against Isis.” Rennenkampff adds that, “While Fox News has reported that Trump engaged in an impeachable “quid pro quo,” his abrupt halt of U.S. assistance to Kyiv strikes at the heart of the crisis.” Also, there’s the corruption redolence: “Democrats should also investigate whether Trump pushed the Ukrainian government to drop criminal investigationsinto his campaign manager’s enormously corrupt dealings in exchange for then-newly approved lethal military aid..In much the same vein, the firing of a widely-respected American diplomat in order to enrich Trump’s cronies reeks of swampian corruption.”

Even if Trump’s base is unmoved by all of the above, holding the Republican politicians who rep them accountable to Fox News reports favoring impeachment could help Dems, if not with impeachment, then perhaps with 2020 election ads.

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