Those Democrats in DC

The main complaint I have with how the Democrats in DC are handling this impeachment question is that they just don’t seem to be very good at it.

Of all the cities of the world, you would think in the political/media bubble we call Washington they could find better help. 

As it is, we’re having difficulty perceiving a strategy with a clearer and more compelling message. All that might help the real decision-makers (meaning U.S. voters) better understand what Trump has done to the presidency.

“Strategy” means having a coherent game-plan that helps you see further than the end of your own nose. “Message” is about helping regular folks (outside DC) understand the complicated details. None of that seems to be happening, nor apparently has the need of it occurred to anyone in the party’s leadership.

With all that Trump has done and failed to do, this should not be as hard now as the solons are making it seem. I have concluded that if there’s one organization in America completely capable of blowing a golden opportunity, it is the Congressional Democrats. They are giving us a new appreciation for what Will Rodgers said, a hundred years ago: ‘I belong to no organized political party – I am a Democrat.’

Just one example: Take the Mueller Report.

Raise your hand if you’ve read the Mueller Report. Raise your hand if you know three people on your street who have. Anyone? See, that’s the problem at present. The problem with approaching the 448-page Mueller Report is exactly that: It’s 448 pages. I suspect few Americans have had the time or inclination to consume such an intimidating brick of a book, what with work and family and car-pools and all.

But Mueller’s report is, in fact, a masterwork of investigative details about Russian meddling in our 2016 election (see Volume 1) and the extent of brazen White House attempts to cover it up (see Volume 2). It’s all there, never mind the blacked-out lines the lawyers call “redactions.” It is quite clear and quite damning: The Russians meddled. The Trump campaign operatives, wanting dirt, eagerly worked with those Russians. And, afterward, a cover-up was attempted.

Back to my point: With the magnitude of 400-plus pages, you don’t actually educate anybody by dumping it on newsstands and bookstores. What you do (normally) with such heft and complexity is extract the main take-aways, show the key message points, and print them onto big posters. You take all that to coordinated presentations across America, and go through them clearly and patiently. Like smart communicators do. (Ross Perot was better at this, rest his soul.)

But no. On Wednesday last, the Democrats on the House committee relied on a TV show. They seemed to bank on one-off stagecraft, hoping for snappy sound-bites, and imagining that regular Americans looking on at home would put it all together in their heads. Not likely.

(Note to File: Forget the Republicans. They were playing their own game. GOP committee members seemed less troubled by what the Trump campaign had done with Russians than by any authorities having the audacity to look into it.)

It was not Mueller who stumbled on Wednesday. It was the Democratic majority that blew an opportunity for national clarity. They squandered hours of priceless national TV coverage that actually could have helped the American people understand this mess.

They gambled that Mueller would make it easy for them. They anticipated he would deliver them helpful quote lines into the television cameras and microphones. He preferred not to.

It’s not that easy. None of this should ever be that easy.