Good Friday Morning! It’s incredible what a difference a week makes. The media fanned the flames so hard when tensions with Iran went up that they crashed the selective service website, and now, we’re back to talking impeachment and the President signing new trade deals. It’s like nothing ever happened. My column, linked below, argued that the media was disastrously crying wolf in the Iran story. They’ve learned zero lessons from that coverage. For all the talk of fake news and biased news stories — the failure to accurately report during the fog of war was egregious.
Speaking of fog, we’ve finally entered the Senate trial phase of impeachment. Last week, in quick hits, I talked about the political strategy that could dominate this process, and impact the 2020 election. I’m going to return to that topic this week, and plug in a few news stories that have made me think more about this upcoming month or so — links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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The media cries wolf too many times on war with Iran – The Conservative Institute
Republicans hold all the cards on impeachment – and the Democratic primaries – The Conservative Institute
Political games in Senate impeachment
The House finally decided to vote and sent the articles of impeachment over to the Senate. They made a big procession of it for the cameras and marched the materials to the Senate. It was an entirely eye-rolling process, but one twitter user improved it by speeding it up and adding the song Yakety Sax. It’s worth a moment if you have it.
One of the most frustrating things during the House hearings was the utter detachment from reality so many journalists exhibited. That detachment is likely to continue throughout the Senate trial.
I’ve long said that what Trump did with the Ukrainian call was impeachable. But there’s a vast difference between legal definitions of impeachable behavior and making the political case for removal. Almost all the commentariat on the internet and cable television has conflated those two points, and that’s sincerely wrong. Democrats have made a legal case for impeachment — but they haven’t made a political one.
The politics of impeachment
The politics of impeachment hasn’t changed. You know all those House Democrats who didn’t want to vote on impeachment and went along with it anyway because they didn’t want to face a primary challenge? That’s going to happen again in the Senate — those Republican Senators who face tight re-election fights, don’t want a primary challenge. And for many of them, the filing deadline for a primary challenger is still open.
If Democrats wanted to make a political case for impeachment, they wouldn’t have sent over Adam Schiff to make the case. Schiff is a partisan hack who has been wrong at every step and continually preaches to the choir, turning off every single potential bipartisan vote. Remember — Republicans in the House who disliked Trump, and were open to voting on articles of impeachment all voted against it — and that’s because Schiff’s committee botched impeachment at every step.
The Republicans Party is profoundly divided on the topic of Trump, and there were retiring members of Congress who would have voted for impeachment had Schiff called witnesses they wanted to hear, and subpoena appropriate evidence. Schiff didn’t do that. He won’t be able to bring in more evidence and witnesses in the Senate because Mitch McConnell won’t clean up Schiff, Pelosi, and the House’s mess. The Senate vote will be strictly on the disaster that Schiff put together.
If Schiff couldn’t convince a single Republican in the House — what do you think he’ll do in the Senate? Suddenly gain charm? He’s the gift that keeps giving to Trump. The polls won’t move, Schiff will muck everything up, and the Senate will vote — at some point, to acquit Trump. And that’ll be a wrap on the dumbest impeachment process in American history.
If I seem a bit harsh on this point, it’s because I’ve had it with all these #Resistance fan-fiction lawyers on cable news and Twitter, claiming everything from Senate oaths are being violated to John Roberts stepping in to help impeach Trump. I’ll give you a sure-fire way to wade through impeachment punditry: if CNN and MSNBC bring on a person with the word attorney in their bio who claims some secret maneuver will impeach Trump — they’re wrong. They’re so crazy that they should turn in their bar cards and law degrees. CNN, in particular, has disgraced the entire legal community with the idiocy they air.
CNN and MSNBC combined to give Michael Avenatti, the lawyer resistance hero, 108 appearances on their networks, and $175 million in free advertising. They even pumped him up as a Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party. They anointed him a savior of the republic. He’s currently in jail — without bond — awaiting new criminal charges. The remaining lawyers opining on these networks aren’t much better.
CNN Hoses Bernie for Warren
I initially set out to write out how I thought impeachment was getting used to screen everyone’s view from the real story: the Democratic Establishment’s attempts to move Bernie Sanders out of the race. That section is going here because every time I engage on the impeachment topic, I end up ranting about it, as I did above.
But I am getting back on track.
My column at the Conservative Institute that’s coming out today covers the smear job that CNN and Elizabeth Warren did to Bernie Sanders. I am loathed to defend a socialist with whom I disagree about everything. Still, my goodness did Bernie Sanders ever get hosed by CNN during the final debate before the Iowa caucuses.
If you’ve missed it, Elizabeth Warren accused Sanders of sexism. She informs that during a secret one-on-one meeting between the two in December of 2018, Sanders said a woman couldn’t win the general election. Warren is trying to paint herself as a victim in an attempt to claw away Sanders supporters. The accusation, which was leaked via “anonymous sources” through CNN, then got cranked up another level when CNN stepped in to finish the Warren hit. Rolling Stone covered it like this:
CNN debate moderator Abby Phillip asked Bernie Sanders in the Tuesday debate in Des Moines:
“CNN reported yesterday — and Senator Sanders, Senator Warren confirmed in a statement — that, in 2018, you told her you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?”
Not “did you say that,” but “why did you say that?”
Sanders denied it, then listed the many reasons the story makes no sense: He urged Warren herself to run in 2016, campaigned for a female candidate who won the popular vote by 3 million votes, and has been saying the opposite in public for decades. “There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States,” he said.
Phillip asked him to clarify: He never said it? “That is correct,” Sanders said. Phillip turned to Warren and deadpanned: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”
That “when” was as transparent a media “**** you” as we’ve seen in a presidential debate. It evoked memories of another infamous CNN ambush, when Bernard Shaw in 1988 crotch-kicked Mike Dukakis with a question about whether he’d favor the death penalty for someone who raped and murdered his wife, Kitty.
I’m a pretty conservative guy, and I’ve written about media bias extensively. This debate is easily one of the more transparent hits on a candidate that I’ve seen since one of the moderators stepped in to help Barack Obama in a debate over Mitt Romney.
Bernie is the new threat
I don’t believe any of this is happening in a vacuum. At the beginning of the year, a flurry of stories came out about how Bernie Sanders was surging in both support and the polls. I tend to think these stories were overblown — Sanders hasn’t expanded his base, he’s just reasserted his second-place status — but they drove all the media narrative.
First, the campaigns reported their fundraising numbers, and Sanders wiped the floor with the rest of the field. Elizabeth Warren, a media darling, was a distant fourth. After that story, a few days later, polls started coming out showing a resurgent Sanders in all the early states. The poll stories led with the line that “Democrats were fretting over Sanders.” Then, a few days after that, the Associated Press ran a story that the Democratic Establishment had started raising alarms over Sanders’s prospects of winning. They printed the following segment:
Less than four weeks before Iowa’s Feb. 3 caucuses, Sanders’ critics are making a concerted effort to turn up the volume.
The ranks of the concerned include many Democrats tasked with preserving the party’s majority in the House and expanding its minority in the Senate and governors’ mansions across the country.
California Rep. Ami Bera, a leader in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “frontline” program to protect vulnerable House members this fall, warned that a Sanders nomination would force more than 40 Democratic candidates in competitive districts — most of which were carried by Trump four years ago — “to run away from the nominee.”
Specifically, Bera cited Sanders’ signature health care plan, which would replace the nation’s private insurance system with a government-run Medicare for All system.
“You have to take Sen. Sanders seriously,” said Bera, who has endorsed Biden. “Those are going to be tough positions for our members to run on.”
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, who led the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm the last time Trump was on the ballot, warned that Republicans “are really good at making elections about who’s at the top of the ticket.”
“I come from a state that’s pretty damn red. There is no doubt that having ‘socialist’ ahead of ‘Democrat’ is not a positive thing in the state of Montana,” Tester, who has not endorsed any 2020 candidate, said of Sanders. “He can overcome that, but I think it’s something he’s going to have to do.”
Those are the two big names in House and Senate politics raising the alarm over Sanders — and they wouldn’t be saying that without the blessing of Pelosi and Schumer. The Democratic Establishment, just like in 2016, does not want Sanders to win.
Impeachment is the Sanders muzzle
If you’re the Democratic establishment, here’s whats happened in the last few days. Elizabeth Warren drops a hit on Sanders via CNN that by all available facts looks false, but CNN is treating as the gospel truth. Pelosi finally sends the articles of impeachment over to the Senate, which means Senators have to leave the campaign trail and sit quietly in the Senate, listening to Adam Schiff and his cohorts drone on and on.
The only two remaining non-Senate candidates are Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, two establishment lane guys, who can run freely while Sanders is tossed to the side. Warren’s hit goes unanswered by Sanders.
Was this all done on purpose? Who knows. I can’t prove a thing. But I do know that cable news networks have moved into wings of each party. CNN and MSNBC for Democrats and FoxNews for Republicans. When the establishment uses a network to target an outsider, it’s telling (FoxNews did this to Trump, supporting Cruz until they finally gave up and went with Trump).
All of which makes me wonder, do Democrats care about the results of the impeachment trial, or do they just want it to drag out as long as possible to hamstring Bernie’s chances?
Do you know what would be really wild? If Bernie called all of this out and opposed impeachment on those grounds. It’s a longshot… but if he really believed his burn-it-down rhetoric, he’d turn his flamethrower on the Democratic Party. He had a chance with Hilary Clinton and her emails in 2016 and passed. He’s got a second chance here…
Links of the week
Eleven US Troops Were Injured in Jan. 8 Iran Missile Strike – Kevin Baron, Defense One
On National Review’s (Several) Disgraceful Swipes at Jews – Bethany Mandel, Ricochet
Lawsuit Claims Epstein Trafficked Girls in the Caribbean Until 2018 – Ali Watkins, New York Times
Michael Avenatti Arrested by Feds at California State Bar Hearing: Stormy Daniels’ ex-lawyer was taken into custody by federal agents during a disciplinary hearing at California’s State Bar Court. – Jason McGahan, Daily Beast
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
WASHINGTON, D.C.—After yesterday’s solemn impeachment procession across the Capitol Rotunda, a procession that was accompanied by 37 elephants, 42 jugglers, three fire sword-swallowers, and one tiny clown car, Mitch McConnell took possession of the articles of impeachment.
McConnell promised to take good care of the impeachment articles, solemnly vowing to place them in a very special rectangular filing bin reserved for impeachment proceedings.
Thanks for reading!