This is one of those times when I’m glad I abstain from the two-party system on the grounds that I am a journalist. Why? Because I don’t have a dog in the fight. I really don’t care about the health of the GOP or the Democratic Party … nor is the health of either a reflection of my proclivities or abilities as a voter. That fact, in turn, frees me to say what I think about what I see … and what I see is a Democratic Party that seems to consistently lack the necessary brainpower to employ sound political tactics or, even worse, to generate a winning strategy.
The DNC’s new Russiagate lawsuit is a case in point. Why would you go out of your way to politicize the story more than it already is? Why re-insert Hillary Clinton’s wildly unpopular name into the political discussion? And why insert your lackluster brand into a legal matter that has Trump consistently flailing on Twitter, has his legal team turning to Rudy “October Surprise” Giuliani and has seen multiple Trump-linked lackeys flipping into Mueller’s corner? Why not just get the eff out of the way and let Mueller do the dirty work for you? Instead, why not focus your efforts on “force multipliers” outside Russiagate … like healthcare, Social Security and the GOP’s budget-busting tax cut?
To wit, this VERY WEEK an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed the GOP tax cut DECLINING in popularity. And that was going to be the GOP’s main selling point in November! Also this week, Trump made a flaccid, widely-panned stab at selling that political lemon. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on that and on rising healthcare costs and to actively play-up the risk to Social Security and to pitch the return of fiscal responsibility … so that you can pad the waning enthusiasm gap you’ve enjoyed thanks in no small part to a “Putin’s Pussygrabber” narrative that’s already well established? Don’t you want to avoid overplaying your hand on an issue that, if you make it the centerpiece throughout the summer, is likely to turn into a fatigue-fueled backlash by October?
Even better, why not do what was done to you in 2016 and drive down turnout on the other side by driving up your opponent’s negatives? Why not focus on the undeniable culture of putrid corruption pooling about Trump in the steamy, swampy Petri dish that is his administration? IF I was advising them, I’d be telling them to turn Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke and Ben Carson and Jared Kushner and Besty DeVos and the whole Mos Eisley crew into poster children in Uncle Donnie’s Muscular Thievery Telethon.
I would turn Trump’s shameless money laundering of public funds and campaign donations through his personal businesses into a daily talking point on cable news blabfests. I would make “Trump’s Swamp” my campaign mantra. And I would actively demoralize the educated voters who helped him in 2016. Mostly, I would make Trump’s crass grifting and the self-interested collaboration of his Republican fellators the big stars of the show … and, thereby, turn the taking of the Congress into the ultimate swamp-draining event at the end of season two of Celebrity President.
BUT I wouldn’t make the election tantamount to impeachment or, more stupidly, play right into the “no collusion” narrative that states Russiagate is really just about being butthurt over 2016. For cautionary tales … look no further than Comey’s mixed bag of tricky positions and the way it quickly turned into a foggy mess. And look no further than Tom Steyer’s ill-conceived ad campaign calling for impeachment.
In fact, there’s a good reason why House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) repeatedly pooh-poohs impeachment as a crappy idea. That’s because the GOP really-really wants the election to be about impeachment … and that’s because getting victimization-focused Trumpsters to circle the wagons around their embattled Golden God is their best shot … and maybe their only shot … at generating real, transferable enthusiasm. Frankly, Trump voters and, in particular, Trump’s cadre of blindly faithful Evangelicals are loathe to admit that they made a mistake in 2016 and, if push comes to impeachment, the GOP believes they will show up in droves to protect their investment in Trump’s infallibility.
So, like the perpetual foils they are, the DNC comes along and preempts Mueller’s investigation to put its trademark on the very thing the GOP wants to turn into a political dumpster fire. Throwing gasoline onto that fire … when Mueller and Stormy Daniels are methodically wearing away at Trump’s thin veneer of gold-plating … seems to me to be either congenitally insane or irretrievably stupid (h/t Wendy).
Mostly, it looks desperate. And that’s not a good look when you are basically being handed the election on a Trump-branded platter.