Monday, June 19, 2017

Democrats and the intensity gap

The Republicans have been a lot more intense in general than the Democrats for aquarter-century or more. Here's an example: Political Ad Uses Scalise Shooting As Its Subject Morning Joe/MSNBC 06/19/2017:

The Democrats can certainly sling accusations. But in confronting the Republicans, corporate Democrats are used to coasting, “'History is on our side,' Pelosi told The Chronicle last week in an interview in her offices just outside the House chamber." (Carolyn Lochhead, Pelosi sees forces aligning to retake House in 2018 San Francisco Chronicle 06/18/2017)

History, and a majority of voters, were on Hillary Clinton's side in 2016, too.

Robert Reich recently warned about complacency on the Democrats' part (Don’t Slow Down on Impeachment Yes! Magazine 06/09/2017:

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) is already drafting articles of impeachment related to Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, believing there’s enough evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice to begin an impeachment inquiry (not to mention Trump’s blatant violation of the Constitutions emoluments clause by profiting off his presidency, and much else).

But Democratic leaders are pushing back, warning there aren’t enough facts to justify an impeachment inquiry at this point, and, in any event, such an inquiry would politicize ongoing congressional investigations.
Reich's judgment of that approach by the corporate Dems: "Baloney."

The real reason Democratic leaders don’t want to seek an impeachment now is they know there’s zero chance that Republicans, who now control both houses of Congress, would support such a move. So why engage in a purely symbolic gesture?

Democratic leaders figure that between now and the midterm elections there will be even more revelations from non-partisan sources – future testimony by Trump operatives like Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, early reports from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and leaks to the press – that will build the case, and fuel more public outrage.

That outrage will give Democrats a strong chance of taking back the House and maybe even the Senate. Then they’ll really impeach Trump.
Reich is obviously more than skeptical about that approach. History is also on the side of such skepticism. After all, at this point in the Presidency of George W. Bush, there was also a good chance that the 2002 Congressional elections would swing the Democrats' way.

Then came 9/11, and the runup to the Iraq War, and supposedly cautious Democrats like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry decided the smart move was to vote for Bush's war resolution to invade Iraq. History was on the Dems' side then, too, but the vote didn't exactly look that way.

The Democratic vote actually caught up with History in being on the side of Democrats in 2006, when the Dems took the House. Then they spent two years hedging their fight against the Cheney-Bush Administration in order to not ruffle the feathers of Republican voters in the 2008 Presidential election. Since History brought us a recession in 2007 that flowered into spectacular financial crisis of 2008, the Presidential election did swing Obama's way that year and left the Democrats in solid control of both Houses of Congress. A majority the Democrats frittered away with the quixotic pursuit of Bipartisanship.

Carolyn Lockheed explains the way this plays into the chronic Democratic caution and temptation to keep their heads down and rely on inertia:

More than investigations or even impeachment, winning back control of the House in the 2018 midterms would disrupt the governing capacity of the Trump White House, just as the GOP takeover of the House in 2010 crippled President Barack Obama’s presidency and Democratic victories in 2006 paralyzed the remainder of President George W. Bush’s second term.

Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats next year to retake the House, and typically, when the president’s approval rating is below 50 percent, “the average seat gain for opposing party is 36 seats,” said Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz.

Trump’s popularity is a shade lower than Bush’s in the 2006 midterms, during the depths of the Iraq War. And it is substantially lower than Obama’s in the 2010 midterms. Both Bush and Obama were below 50 percent approval at the time, but Trump’s current 38 percent is a record low for a president just six months into his term.
But she also reports that "some analysts" say "the party’s Bernie Sanders liberal wing could undermine the advantage." Because obviously identifying too closely with the country's most popular politician (Sanders) and his program could sabotage History once again. Or something.

Reading things like this make me tempted to agree with Cenk Uygar's occasional comment that the Democrats are "paid to lose" by big donors.

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