NDN Blog

Biden Or Bust, Vetting Bernie, Four Ways To Combat Trump

From this morning’s Politico: “For the establishment, I think it’s Joe or bust,” said Simon Rosenberg, NDN president, who served as a senior strategist for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2018. “Biden is the only one who has a path to defeat Bernie. It would involve him winning South Carolina and then performing well enough in the early March states to keep the race competitive,” Rosenberg said. “I don’t think Bloomberg can recover quickly enough from the hits he’s taken in recent days to remain competitive or win the nomination.”  

Implicit in this argument is our take that while Mayor Pete and Senator Warren have done well, they haven’t done well enough to be competitive after the early March states.  But at this point one of them staying in the hunt is far more likely than Bloomberg getting himself back into a race he should never have entered in the first place. 

Defeating Bernie at this point will not be easy but it’s not impossible.  A thorough vetting of Bernie has only just begun, and his disastrous 60 Minutes interview last night is a good sign of how rough it’s going to be for him now. He insultingly couldn’t explain how the basics of his health and economic plans would work, and showed an admiration for the Cuban Castro regime that was just jawdropping (and shows how little he understands about leading a party into an election, not just an insurgency). Dr. Rob Shapiro has a smart look at how little reality there is to what Bernie is promising to do, and Ron Brownstein also has a good take on Bernie’s fantasy promises. 

Bernie’s covering up of potentially disqualifying health issues and his long history of pro-gun, anti-immigrant politics are also sure to come to light in the coming days.  That Trump, Russia, and Fox News are all promoting his candidacy remains an extraordinary concern, as does his leadership role in the Socialist Workers Party in 1980, an American affiliate of the Communist Party in the days the Soviet Union still existed. 

If Biden wants to win he will also have to quickly overhaul his strategy and his campaign.  He is ceding way too much of the under 45 vote to Bernie, and got into the digital organizing part of modern politics way too late.  He should address the youth problem by immediately appointing a youth strategy team which should be co-chaired by Rep. Abby Finkenauer among others. 

New polling shows why the stakes of the Democratic Primary are so high – Trump is losing the 2020 election right now, and the GOP’s hold on the Senate has shown real signs of erosion in recent weeks.  Trump’s job approval sits about where it sat on election day 2018 when GOPers lost by 8.6 points in the House, and using Real Clear Politics Biden leads in every battleground state right now including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin (MI and PA are gone for Trump, Texas is very close to being competitive).

In the Senate, new polls have McSally trailing Mark Kelly 46-39 in Arizona and Collins trailing Sara Gideon 43-42 in Maine. In North Carolina, a new poll which did not test D/R head to heads has Trump’s job approval at 45-52, while Senator Tillis’ approval rate is only 38% - taken together these three polls suggest that the Democratic quest to take the Senate back is within reach.    

As for the battle to prevent our Mad King from doing further harm to our Republic, Simon’s new piece lays out four ideas for what the House and Democrats can be doing now to more aggressively challenge the escalating lawlessness of the Trump regime.    

Trump, Russia, And The 2020 Elections — Four Things We Can Do Now

This piece was originally published on Medium.

While there are limits to what Congress and Democrats can do in the face of an out of control President and his cowardly enablers in the Senate, I offer ideas for four things we should consider doing in the days ahead:

Launch A Broad Security Review — Over the next few months, the four main House Committees concerned with defending the nation — Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Homeland Security — should conduct a broad, coordinated review of the nation’s security in the wake of years of gross mismanagement and corrupt self-dealing by the President and his advisors. The American people have a right to know what has been done in their name, and months of public hearings will help inform the political debate this summer and fall.

Particular focus should be given to the President’s relationship with Russia, and the dramatic steps the President has taken in recent years to support Putin’s ambitions on the global stage. The process should begin next week with hearings about what Russia has been doing to help the President’s re-election, and what steps are being taken to shut down the operation itself and prevent further damage to the election which is currently underway.

Secure Our Elections — Events of recent days have shown how unready we are for what is to come in 2020, and proud patriots of both parties should work to restore the integrity of the ODNI, shut down any foreign influence operation underway here in the United States, re-open the FEC, and pass some of the many bipartisan election security bills Moscow Mitch and the President have been sitting on in the Senate. In a recent opinion piece, NDN called on DHS to establish a “gang of six,” a regular convening of the heads of the six federal political party committees as a way of acknowledging the critical role these institutions play in protecting our elections and domestic discourse.

In that same piece NDN called on the six federal party committees to make two structural changes to better allow them to better manage their new cyber responsibilities:

1) Appoint a Senator or House Member Vice Chair for Cybersecurity and Countering Disinformation from one of the Congressional committees of jurisdiction like Homeland Security or Intelligence. Their subject matter expertise and security clearance will make it easier for the each Party Committee to interact with DHS and the intelligence community, particularly in a time of crisis

2) Hire a Chief Security Officer with a true cyber and technical background and ensure they are in the management team of the committee, a direct report to the executive director or chief executive. The DNC’s appointment of Bob Lord as its CSO is a step in the right direction.

Establish A Bicameral Rule of Law Rump Group — Recently we suggested that leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi appoint a bi-cameral rump group of Democrats whose mission it is to fashion a broad strategy to push back against the President’s assault on the rule of law and help the public understand the gravity of what we are witnessing.

Our thought is to keep it small — under 10 Senators/House Members or so — and start with the former state AGs in the Senate — Blumenthal, Harris, Whitehouse. For more on this idea visit here.

The DNC Should Adopt The Social Media Framework Endorsed By The State Parties — In June of last year the state Democratic Parties endorsed a framework that would govern the use of illicit tactics used by Russia against the Democratic Party in 2016 by Democrats in their own campaigns. The DNC should adopt this framework, and encourage every Democratic campaign to adhere to its requirements in the coming election. Democrats just have to do everything they can to make it more difficult for our politics to descend into an era of what I call “Moscow Rules.”

There has never been a moment like this in American history. Our President aspires to be a king, not just a President, and he is also showing clear signs of mental decline and what may best be called madness. There are no pivots from this awful reality, no waiting for Mueller, no “let’s focus on health care.” This is an all hands on deck moment in the history of our Republic, and Congress must do more than express concern — it must act. I’ve offered some ideas on how to proceed, but whatever the plan it must begin in the days ahead.

Dems Fight It Out, Delusions of A Mad King, Nevada This Saturday

Notes on 2020 - There has been lots of polling over the past few days and it tells a simple story – the Democratic race is very competitive and what happens in Nevada and South Carolina is really going to matter. Perhaps the most important development has been the slew of good polls for VP Biden in NV, SC, and other states showing him very much in the game.  Tomorrow’s Nevada debate, with Mike Bloomberg on the stage, will be a significant moment. Lots of drama ahead for the Democrats.

One bit of drama we hope we don’t see again is the troubles which plagued Iowa and which may repeat in Nevada this weekend. NDN believes it would be wise for DNC Chair Tom Perez to take some concrete steps to improve his operation in the coming days, sending a clear signal that he knows he needs to do better, and regain the trust of Democrats across the country.  This will be particularly important if Dems look like they are headed to a brokered convention, something which will put a much greater burden on the DNC to carry a negative message against Trump for the next 4-5 months, build a true general election operation for the nominee, and manage a divisive and challenging convention.  

As for Trump, his numbers remain bad and he has not shown any kind of significant bump from his illicit acquittal.   There is no doubt he is building a powerful juggernaut, which is why Dems not having a nominee until late July will be so problematic.  But some perspective here please.  Trump only won 2016 with the extraordinary trifecta of Russia’s enormous intervention, a left leaning third party candidate, and the Comey letter;  the GOP has had three truly awful elections since including the 8.6 point win for the Dems in 2018; incumbents in the low 40s as Trump is now almost never win; and do we expect him to behave more like Reagan and less like Caligula in the coming months?

The big story with Trump remains his dangerous disregard for the rules and laws which make our democracy, and all democracies, work.  In just the past few months he has solicited campaign help from a foreign nation, illegally held back information for a legitimate Congressional investigation, and corrupted the Senate Impeachment trial, and he now appears to be trying to turn the Department of Justice into an arm of his political project and campaign (something he did with the White House and State Departments in the Ukraine affair). 

What worries us the most is that the latest revelations about Trump and Barr are not just corrupt and illegal, but represent an attempt by the President to replace the story of the past few years with a new, fictitious, and delusional one.  It feels really crazy and dangerous  - as if the President has really lost contact with the real world, becoming in every way the Mad King our Founders so feared.  It remains shocking that the Senate GOPers and Barr are playing along with this destructive and out of control man. 

Our List of High-Volume, Pro-Trump Twitter Accounts

As we have previously discussed, we’ve begun a project to locate and publicize high volume pro-Trump accounts on Twitter. These “amplifiers” are a critical part of the modern social media ecosystem and are also an important part of how Trump and his allies move their narratives through the body politic here in the US. It's our sense that all of us need to get a better understanding of these accounts and how they influence our domestic discourse. 

As our research has evolved, so has Twitter. In September of 2019, Twitter began suspending thousands of accounts for manipulation as part of their ongoing battle against disinformation. We went ahead and reviewed our database to check in on which accounts were active. Out of the 441 accounts, we found that 59 are no longer active. These 59 accounts range from some of the highest-performing to some of the lower performing accounts. As our landscape continues evolving, we will be sure to keep checking on how many accounts in our database are suspended for violating Twitter’s platform.

You can find some of the most aggressive accounts below, or you can see all 441 of the accounts we’ve found so far in the attached pdf. You will now notice a column indicating if the account is still active. Feel free to use this information for whatever work you are doing in this space. Our goal is get a better sense of how many of accounts like these are out there – is it a few hundred? A few thousand? More? Help us figure that out.

 

Dems Battle It Out, Nevada Caucus Concerns

We know that Bernie and Mayor Pete will do well tomorrow night.  As the various trackers are very bouncy right now, we don’t really know much else other than that the candidates who finish fourth and fifth will be in serious trouble.  As Nevada isn’t for another 12 days – the longest stretch without voting in the Feb window - the New Hampshire bounce could be more important than ever.  538’s national poll tracker has Biden/Bloomberg/Buttigieg/Klobuchar at 48% combined support, Sanders/Warren at 35%.  Questions remain about how low Sanders’ ceiling is – he’s not where he wants to be given his name ID and the money he’s spent.  And we worry that the President’s/GOP's months long illicit attack on VP Biden did take a toll on the former Dem frontrunner – a terrible outcome for our democracy. 

Trump remains in dangerous electoral territory, down 8 in the latest 538 job approval tracker, 51.7 disapprove/43.9 approve.  Despite the expected incoherent bluster from the White House over the end of Impeachment, whatever small improvement we’ve seen in the President’s numbers hasn’t been enough to make him competitive this fall.   Regular reminder – Trump has led his team to terrible defeats in the 2017/2018/2019 elections and there’s no evidence that he’s found some new formula for success.  A President with 52% wanting removal will never have an easy time getting re-elected; the fallout from his illicit dealings will continue to damage him; and all of us should remain worried/vigilant about the expansive new powers the Senate gave to him last week. 

Our take on the app fiasco is that it was an early test of the Democratic Party’s readiness for this new post-2016/Russia world of disinformation and cyber insecurities, and the Party failed the test, terribly.  The DNC should join Iowa’s call for an independent investigation into what happened, stop blaming the states for what was clearly a joint failure, and restore the critical partnership between the DNC and the states needed to win the 2020 election.  The DNC and the Nevada Democratic Party also must take immediate steps to assure the public that we are not headed towards another fiasco/security breach in the Nevada caucuses; our friends at the OSET Institute offer some concrete steps they could take today.  You can find NDN’s extensive work in this space here

On To New Hampshire, Impeachment Ends, The App Fiasco

The race for the Democratic nomination enters an important new phase this week.  Impeachment ends today, and it means that the attention of many Democrats will turn to the Presidential race.  What they will find is a wide open race, with six candidates, including Mike Bloomberg, slugging it out over what is an incredibly intense five week stretch.  In part due to the election night app fiasco, Iowa didn’t do what it often does and winnow the field.  So we have an exciting few weeks ahead with a wide open race, and two candidates – Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar – still very much alive and in contention for the nomination.  The New Hampshire debate this Friday is really going to matter – do make sure you watch.

Like many, we are disappointed in the Senate GOP’s embrace of Trump’s ongoing cover up of his crimes, and worry about where this leaves our Republic.  In a recent piece we wrote how important it was for Democrats to embrace the success of their time in the White House as the foundational argument needed to defeat Trumpism and illiberalism in the coming days.

This morning Simon offered an extensive reflection on the app fiasco, and how all of us – not just the DNC and Iowa Party – have to learn from the mistakes made.  We are in the midst of a wrenching transition to a new era of politics marked by cyber intrusions and disinformation, an era we describe as operating by Moscow Rules, and the need for a fundamental re-invention of our parties and other democratic institutions to prosper in this new era is now more urgent than ever. 

Where Bolton Is Headed - Putin

"Where Bolton Is Headed-Putin" originally appeared on the website, Medium

I want to posit that when John Bolton’s story comes out, however it comes out, the most shocking revelations will be about Donald Trump’s treasonous fealty to Vladimir Putin.

We know that the President’s rough treatment of Ukraine’s Zelensky benefited Russia. Trump’s top Russia experts told us so, under oath, in the House hearings. And the President told us so in that infamous July 25th phone call — his first “favor” was actually for Russia and Putin, not himself.

We also know thanks to reporting from the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman that Bolton refused to go television in late August of 2019 to defend the President’s incredible advocacy for Putin at the just completed G7 meeting in France. Over the objections of Ukraine and the European Union, the President made the relaxation of sanctions imposed on Russia for their illegal annexation of Crimea a central issue in the talks. It was rightly seen as an outrageous PR gift to President Putin at the time, and one which of course has to now be seen as a critical part of Trump’s month’s long illicit shakedown of Zelensky.

We also know that the New York Times headline the day after Bolton departed the White House read “Trump Leaves Open Possibility of Easing Iranian Sanctions to Spur Nuclear Talks.” The Times pieces goes on to report “his subtle yet startling signal about relaxing the sanctions came just a day after the president unceremoniously ousted John R. Bolton, the White House national security adviser who opposed détente with Iran.”

Let’s try to put all this together. Bolton joined the Administration in April of 2018. He was there in Helsinki, when the President shamefully said he trusted Putin over America’s intelligence agencies. He was there in December of 2018 when the President abruptly announced America’s first abandonment of Syria, a geopolitical gift to Russia and its regional ally, Iran, a move that caused Defense Secretary Mattis to resign. He was there in early May of 2019 when, after speaking to Putin on the phone, the President abruptly reversed course in Venezuela, essentially once again giving a nation over to the Russians. He was there when the President lavishly praised Russia’s close ally, Viktor Orban, in the Oval Office even saying that Orban was “like me” (we know now that Bolton opposed allowing Orban to come to the White House, and that he used that meeting to help turn Trump against Zelensky and Ukraine).

It was in the late summer of 2019 when Trump gave Bolton reasons to get truly alarmed. He was there as the entire Ukrainian “drug deal” played out over the summer and early fall, including the President’s truly unbelievable suck up to Putin at the all-important G7 in late August. He then had to contend with the President inviting the Taliban to Camp David to finalize a peace deal that would humiliate the United States and provide another boon to Russia. But it was the President’s floating of the relaxation of the “maximum pressure” regime on Iran, Russia’s close ally, which seemed to be the last straw.

And for good reason. While we know the President was deferential to Putin in their public meetings, and had seemed to take a series of dramatic steps to align the US with Putin’s global ambitions in recent months in Syria, Europe, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Afghanistan, the true test of Putin’s influence over Trump would always be Iran. While nodding to Putin across the rest of the world, when it came to Iran, Putin’s ally, the President was with Iran’s enemies, the Gulf Arab states and Israel, in a big way. The President’s first foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, re-imposed sanctions, and began his campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran. He threatened Qatar for being too friendly to Iran. We know of his deep intimacy with Israel’s Bibi, and the President even looked the other way when the Saudi’s dismembered a journalist living in the US, working for the Washington Post. Weakening the Trump/Bibi/MBS alliance seemed beyond even Putin’s reach even though like Ukraine this one really mattered to him — he had soldiers fighting and dying in Syria.

Iran hawks had reason to worry about the President’s commitment to their project when he began his first pull out of Syria in December of 2018, a move seen as benefiting Iran and Putin. But it was his shifting of his position on Iran in early September, detailed above, that clearly was the last straw for Bolton and a sign that Putin had run the table with his apprentice in the White House. In reading through contemporaneous news accounts of the President’s repeated gifts to Putin, Bolton appears consistently on the other side — opposing Orban’s visit, the about face in Venezuela, the Ukraine and Afghanistan polices, and finally this new “détente” with Iran.

In the months following Bolton’s departure, events have shown that his concerns about the President’s Russian drift appear to have been more than justified. In one of the more dramatic and dangerous foreign policy acts in American history, the President finished his Syria pull out in mid-October, abandoning our allies the Kurds, risking the return of ISIS, angering our European allies, and fundamentally tipping the scales in the Middle East in Putin and Iran’s direction, all at the expense of the Gulf Arab states and Israel. Zelensky still hasn’t gotten his Oval Office meeting, and every day he and his Republican allies bash Ukraine for being a corrupt cesspool. And in something which deserves far more attention, veterans groups have criticized the Administration for not moving against a newly discovered Russian foreign influence campaign targeting vets here in the US.

But it is what has happened with Iran since Bolton departed which should have American policy makers most concerned. Inspired by the President’s apparent bowing to Russia’s will in the region, the Iranian regime became far more aggressive. It attacked Saudi oil facilities — no US response. Iran downed a US drown — no response. It then began a campaign to bully the US out of Iraq, a campaign which led to the death of an American contractor, the assassination of General Soleimani, an Iranian strike on a US base which caused extensive damage and wounded dozens of our soldiers, and a formal request for the US to leave Iraq altogether — which was the goal of the Iranian/Russian campaign from the start.

With Bibi’s loss of immunity today, and more unacceptable behavior from the Saudis in recent months including the still unfolding terrorist attack in Pensacola, the Russian/Iranian alliance while having taken some casualties in recent months seems to have come out of this skirmish stronger than ever.

The Washington Post reported this morning: “Bolton was regularly appalled by what he saw from the president, the people close to him said. He wondered at times if Trump was acting in America’s best interest or if he was inspired by nefarious reasons, according to a person familiar with the book.”

“Inspired by nefarious reasons.” We don’t yet know what John Bolton is going to say about his time in the White House. What we’ve learned so far has been pretty explosive, and it seems likely that he will be called to testify in the Senate Impeachment trial. But if I am right, and the tale he tells is about an American President repeatedly doing the bidding of Russia to the detriment of the national security of the United States, then we are not just looking at the end of the Trump Presidency but a scandal of potentially world altering proportions.

Crossing The Rubicon

The descent of the GOP from Reagan to Trump, and its increasing acceptance of illiberalism and actions at odds with our democratic tradition to gain/maintain power, is perhaps the most important political story of our time.  As I argued in this long form magazine piece from 2012, once Communism fell and a new age of globalization began, the American right failed to reinvent itself around new circumstances, becoming an angry reactionary force which has chosen the corrupt path of cheating and degrading our democracy to win rather than doing the hard work of modernization that every political party must do as times change. 

In 2000, the GOP gained power through a party line SCOTUS decision which prevented votes from being counted (remains astonishing); in 2002, it lied about the cause of a war of choice to America and the world; it went on an orgy of illegal voter suppression/redistricting in the 2010s which led to unlawfully gained power in state after state in the Union; it illicitly stole a Supreme Court seat in 2016/17 and jammed a terribly flawed nominee through in 2018; its nominee won a very close election in 2016 through the help of a foreign power and a dramatic late intervention by the FBI, and the GOP has worked as a party to illegally cover it all up for years.  So perhaps it is no surprise that we are where we are today, with the GOP unified in once again covering up for this obviously venal President, even to the point of turning the Constitutionally mandated  Senate “trial” into perhaps the first in our history without witnesses and evidence. 

This week feels a bit like a “crossing the Rubicon” moment for the once proud party of Reagan and America itself, particularly after last night’s revelations that John Bolton will be the fourth Trump aide to confirm the President broke the law and abused his power (joining Mulvaney, Sondland, and Parnas). Will the Senate and the Chief Justice really still allow the corruption of the trial as the President calls for? Will the Senate really sanction the effort to rig an upcoming election, certainly one of the gravest crimes an American President can commit, and one which we know from history and the present day can lead shortly to tyranny? The President’s defense is dangerous, and constitutionally ignorant.  Impeachment is not extraordinary this close to an election; it is required if the crime is an attempt to deny citizens their right to fairly choose their own leaders.  Impeachment was included in our Constitution for a situation just like this – an errant President using the awesome power of their office to prevent a free and fair election, and thus the remedy of removal through the upcoming election is simply no remedy at all.  Many of the world’s worst leaders – Putin, Maduro – have gained power through corrupt elections and Potemkin edifices of democracy.  Is this where the Republicans really want to take us this week?  

Failure to allow witnesses and documents in this trial at this time will be among the worst betrayals of our nation and our Constitution in American history.  It may very well leave us a republic in name only, as we will at that moment be led by the kind of Mad King without checks and balances that the Founders so desperately feared.  I am not sure our democratic experiment has seen as many moments as consequential as the one ahead – a moment which unfortunately may be far too much a Rubicon moment than any of us could have imagined even a few months ago.  Let us hope that reason and patriotism prevails, and that this Impeachment “trial” has those elements so critical to the rule of law and our republic itself – germane evidence and witnesses. 

NDN's Greatest Hits

NDN's most important work from before the years before Trump. 

Most Significant

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade Jan 21, 2014 - The global system created by Presidents FDR and Truman has done more to create opportunity, reduce poverty and advance democracy than perhaps any other policies in history. 

TIME Features NDN Economic Analysis, Chart, Labels It "Most Important Chart in American Politics" Feb 5, 2013 - Michael Scherer of Time reports on the influence Dr. Rob Shapiro's analysis has had on shaping recent thinking about how the American economy is changing.

"Forward, or Backward?" - The Descent of the GOP Into A Reactionary Mess 10/25/12 - In a new magazine essay, Simon argues that the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant the Republican offering is becoming.  In both Spanish and English.

The 50 Year Strategy, November/December 2007, Mother Jones. Simon and Peter Leyden offer a landmark vision for how progressives can win and prosper in the decades to come.

The New Landscape of Globalization 6/20/07: By Robert J. Shapiro We can address the challenges of the 21st century economy without sacrificing the benefits of globalization and technological advance, principally by expanding public investments in critical areas and reforming health care and energy policies.

Just Really Good

The Pernicious Politics of Oil Dec 16th, 2016.  Petro-powers are challenging the global order, and the next president seems uninterested in stopping them.

Crafting an American Response to the Rise of the Rest, January 21, 2010, Cross posted on NDN.org and Salon.com.  Simon argues that the second generation Obama narrative must be a strategic response to the most significant transformation taking place in the world today, the rise of new global economic powers, or what Fareed Zakaria has called the “rise of the rest.”

Tapping the Resources of America’s Community Colleges: 7/26/07: By Robert J. Shapiro - Young Americans are increasingly adept at working with computers, but many American workers still lack those skills. Here, we propose a direct new approach to giving U.S. workers the opportunity to develop those skills.

A Laptop in Every Backpack 5/1/07: By Simon Rosenberg and Alec Ross.  We believe that America needs to put a laptop in every backpack of every child. We need to commit to a date and grade certain: we suggest 2010 for every sixth grader.

 

The Foreword to Crashing the Gate, 3/7/06 (a book by Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong) Simon Rosenberg -  If we really want to build a modern movement, progressives of all stripes must learn to work together, to tolerate and respect our differences, to debate but not to fight, to understand that we are all playing different positions on the same team.

America Not Winning, Bernie Stumbles and Biden Leads - Notes on 2020

The images that we see today of the Senate Impeachment trial and the President at Davos while in many ways distant from one another speak to the same story – the savaging of America and its democracy by the President and his party.  The President arrives in Davos a reviled global leader, unfaithful, unsteady, and increasingly seen as dangerous.  As conservative columnist Max Boot wrote last night: “The number of people abroad who express confidence in the US president fell from 70% in 2013 to 28% in 2018 while the number who see the U.S. as a threat climbed from 25% to 45%. More Germans now view Trump as a danger than Kim, Putin, Xi, and Khamenei combined.”

Here at home, the President’s illiberal disdain for our democracy and its inherent limits and virtues will be on full display over the next few weeks. While many had anticipated that Senator McConnell would “rig” the trial for the President, few anticipated the extraordinary lengths he has chosen to go and how closely he has aligned the once august US Senate with the President’s historic venality. This type of contempt for democratic norms and institutions is part of a broader embrace by the Republican Party of what we call "Moscow Rules" in our politics. Our hope is that GOP Senators and the presiding Judge improve the absurd package McConnell has proposed, and allow a fair hearing of what sure appears to be extensive crimes committed by the President and many who work for him. 

Over the past few weeks we’ve argued that it was going to be far harder for McConnell to get the Senate to acquittal than conventional wisdom holds, and his actions in the last 24 hours actions are not those of a leader confident of winning.  A just released CNN poll shows that Mitch is right to be worried, as it confirms that he and the President are losing the big arguments that they need to win this Impeachment fight - 69% of Americans want to hear from new witnesses; 58% believe that he abused his power; 57% believe that he obstructed Congress; by 51%-45% Americans want the Senate to remove him; his job approval is 43% approve, 53% disapprove; Americans disapprove of the GOP's handling of the Senate trial by 54%-39%; and only 37% approve of Trump’s handling of the Senate trial.  These are shockingly poor numbers on issues of such importance to the President (ones consistent with the last few weeks of polling) and suggest that whatever the outcome of the trial, the President has become a spent force in the life of our country. A majority of Americans are ready to see him go. 

As for the Democrats, we share 538’s assessment that Joe Biden has the best chance of winning the nomination.  The last two polls taken in Iowa have him ahead, and 538 has him leading in all four early states right now. Bernie Sanders’ attacks on Biden and Warren have felt desperate, were poorly executed, and probably have done him more harm than good. It is a reminder that as someone who isn’t now and has never been a Democrat, Bernie has never shied from attacking Democrats and the Democratic Party itself. It remains a bit shocking that a career politician who has spent his career outside the Democratic Party believes he could ever effectively lead it. 

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