The End is Near

Alan Zendell, December 11, 2018

As 2018 lurches to a close and the news media binge over indictments and irrational tweets, each with its own spin added, it’s important to not be swept up in their hysteria. Try to screen out all the nonsense and flack, and concentrate on what’s real.

One real thing we know is that the new Congress will be sworn in on January 3rd. That’s still 23 days off, but the current Congress will be in recess for most of that time. Trump and the Democrats will spar over the border wall and keeping the government open, Congress may send the President a binding resolution rebuking the Saudi Crown Prince, and Robert Mueller will continue to reveal information about his investigation, but no significant business will be concluded before the year-end recess.

In the meantime, the media, in their continual competition for ratings, will spin and hype every bit of news, real or fake. Talking heads will pontificate about Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Russia, trade wars, climate change, the economy, and whether Trump will be impeached. Remember, all those “experts” have been wrong about almost everything and they’re all paid for their input, so they’ll keeping talking even if they have nothing to say. Ignore all of them and stay focused on what’s most important to you.

Trump will probably reach some token agreement with China so both countries can save face, but don’t expect it to affect your life significantly. He probably will not reach an accord with Russia, but that won’t directly affect you either unless you have family in Ukraine. The truth is, no one has any idea what will happen in 2019. Financial markets will struggle to attain stability but if things don’t go well with trade, corporate earnings, and (un)employment, they may have to drop first.

The most entertaining show will be put on by the Democrats, who will struggle mightily not to squander their first Congressional majority since 2010. They’ll squabble and try to put on a good face so they can make the case that they can be trusted to govern in 2020. Progressives will push some form of universal health care, but it won’t come to a serious vote in this Congress as long as Conservatives control the Senate and the White House.

What will likely happen is that the Democrats will fight among themselves over how to deal with the president. Jerry Nadler (Judiciary) and Adam Schiff (Intelligence) will keep their committees busy drafting subpoenas. Expect sparks to fly and the Twitter wires to smoke as the Democrats launch an all-out effort to see Trump’s tax filings and financial records, including every deal he’s ever attempted to close with Russian operatives.

They’ll be salivating when they’re sworn in on January 3rd, but it’s not entirely clear what they expect to accomplish. Do they really intend to try to impeach Trump? The cooler Democratic heads know that’s not a wise course. If there’s not indisputable evidence of “Crimes and  Misdemeanors” against the people, impeachment won’t pass muster in Mitch McConnell’s Senate. And if there is, the Republicans themselves will act, just as they did in 1974.

No doubt, millions of people would love to watch Trump crash and burn. It would feel as good as watching Rocky Balboa knock out Apollo Creed (the first time.) I’m not immune to vengeful lust, and if anyone deserves to be disgraced and humiliated, Donald Trump does. But – would impeaching him be good for the country?

I can’t escape the irony that James Comey, who may be more responsible for our current debacle than anyone else, got it right the other day. The country needs to be rid of Trump and all the hate and divisiveness he fostered and enabled, but the killing blow should be delivered at the ballot box in resounding numbers. We can’t vicariously defer to a public executioner. We have to do it ourselves one vote at a time.

My guess is that the Democrats’ strategy will be to harass Trump during every day of the next Congress. Make him fume and rage and let him hang himself with ever more unhinged behavior. Let him disintegrate in plain sight the way Nixon did, and hope cooler heads (Alexander Haig, where are you when we need you?) can hold everything together until the next election.

As Trump makes himself irrelevant and Republicans who are up for re-election in 2020 see the handwriting on the wall, enough of them may realize that their futures depend on demonstrating that they’re actually capable of governing to break the Congressional gridlock and accomplish something useful.

Sound like a fantasy? Maybe, but it’s my fantasy, and I won’t give it up without a fight.

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