“The Political Perfect Storm” -- Sunday Political Brunch -- January 19, 2020


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – I loved the movie, “The Perfect Storm!” It’s the confluence of Murphy’s Law in which if things can go bad, they will go bad. And when you have a whole bunch of things potentially going south at once, all bets are off. Between the impeachment, the Iowa Caucuses, and the general running of the country, the whole shebang could be on a collision course. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Timing is Everything” – No matter how this impeachment process ends, I think there will always be questions about the timing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The impeachment articles were approved weeks ago on December 18, yet it is only just now that they were delivered to the Senate for trial on January 15, and you get the feeling she wanted to wait even longer. One of the key cornerstones of politics is momentum. In other words, “If you catch a wave, ride the wave fast for as long as you can!” If you mistime it, you miss the wave! Some Democrats have told me privately that they think Pelosi dropped the ball on this for weeks, and that she’s now in a position of weakness, not strength.

“Elements of the Storm” – Here’s the dilemma now. You have an impeachment trial about to begin, with no finite ending. You have a primary season about to begin, with finite deadlines in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina right off the bat. Then you have the sudden swing of unexpected events, such as the drone attack on Iranian General Soleimani. In football, you protect the ball, when you have the ball. Speaker Pelosi had weeks to control the ball, but now possession has shifted to the Senate, Trump, her fellow Democrats running for president, and the unpredictability of world and national events. Her influence may have peaked, and waned. We’ll see.

“The Primary Problem” – While you have candidates who legitimately want to beat Trump at the ballot box (and they have a chance), have some of them now been “handcuffed?” Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar will have to be Senate jurors in Trump’s trail. They can’t be hobnobbing in Iowa and New Hampshire, and beyond for a few weeks (except maybe a quick weekend trip). But you can see where this gives a tremendous advantage to former Vice President Joe Biden, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Retail politics in Iowa and New Hampshire are essential, and these are the only two who can do it full-time.

“Women’s’ March” – There will be another women’s march in Washington, DC, this weekend, which should get significant coverage on Saturday and Sunday, as it has since Trump was elected. It’s very colorful, but it’s also brief. Movements such as this only succeed if people do more than just vent. You need to field a slate of candidates at the local, state, and national level who will run with passion for the cause. This could be empowering for anti-Trump forces (as it was in the 2018 midterms), but it remains to be seen if they can generate significant momentum from this since they are competing with the above-mentioned events for attention.

“USA v. The Enemy” – One of the things that will soon rear its head in this campaign is patriotism (real or perceived). Look, President Trump took what he calls a defensive and aggressive strike against Iranian General Soleimani, and Soleimani is now dead. The fact that Trump threatened to target 52 Iranian sites if there was retaliation should not fall on deaf ears. In 1979 there were 52 Americans who were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, and many Americans are still angry and resentful. For Trump to pick the number 52 is no coincidence. He claims not to be a professional politician, but this is a masterful political play, right out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook. Don’t underestimate the strategic side of Trump.

“The Jurors Speak” – This week I had the opportunity to speak with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) West Virginia, who was sworn-in as one of the Senate jurors. She said, “You know most people have already made up their mind here, I think, not Senators so much, but general public. But I think they expect me to do what my constitutional duty is, which is to sit in my chair, be quiet and listen and pay close to the evidence on both sides and then make an informed decision and that’s what I plan to do.” Both of Capito’s Democratic opponents in this year’s re-election bid want President Trump removed from office.

What are your thoughts on the impeachment trial? Just click the comment button and let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV Stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Political Contributing Writer for “The White House Patch” at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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