In baseball and softball, there is a key rule of thumb when you’re on base, never run into a tag. If a ball is hit to the fielder ahead of you and you’re not forced to run to the next base, stay on your base, don’t run right up to a fielder so he/she can easily tag you out.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a number of Democrats have seen that the ball is now in the hands of Moscow Mitch McConnell and they have smartly chosen not to run straight into him and have impeachment swiftly tagged out.
Since the impeachment inquiry began, Pelosi has done a brilliant job in overseeing and strategizing the Democrats’ moves. This is another smart move. The Democrats’ leverage against McConnell and his rigged trial is limited but can continue to be built on.
There has been the expected handwringing and concern trolling by the media. Maybe Dems are playing into McConnell’s hands since he doesn’t really want a trial anyway, they suggest. If this standoff continues too long, the public will lose interest in this impeachment, see it as illegitimate or just want it to go away. Pelosi and Dems may be overplaying their hands and Trump’s moans of what a victim he is could gain support. All of this pearl-clutching overlooks the actual dynamics and who is most vulnerable the longer a trail is delayed.
Sometimes, the media comes off as masochistic. Trump is leading an assault against them but his madness brings them great ratings, not quite clear if they’re really rooting for Trump to be gone because while the attacks on them are hammering their reputations, their viewership has gone up.
In any case, I’m pretty confident Pelosi and Dems are playing chess here and see the whole game board. The one key factor that is on their side and gives them more power to force a fair hearing in The Senate that McConnell has insisted will never happen…The Dems’ main ally who puts time on their side and will empower their bargaining…is Donald Trump.
The more Trump tries to deny how wounded he is by being impeached, the more he admits that he is. The one salve that Trump has been looking forward to with a smug confidence is that his Republican toadies in The Senate, who have already publicly announced they won’t fulfill their oaths to The Constitution and hold a full, fair and impartial trial, would soon hand him an acquittal he can wave around and campaign and fundraise on.
No doubt Trump has been fantasizing how he will shout across the media, on Twitter and at his rallies, that he has been found “absolutely 100% not guilty!” (like innocent O.J., of course). Adding to that, he’s surely planning to smear Pelosi and all Dems as being proven to have conducted a sham/fraud/witch hunt/voodoo curse against him and what a poor, Christ-like victim of outrageous abuse he’s been…while spewing outrageous abuse at them and every dead Democrat he can think of.
Trump NEEDS to have that acquittal in The Senate. It’s not optional to him, he can’t bear to have been impeached by The House and not have something to undermine it. He can’t have it as the last word on his presidency (aside from losing in 2020). McConnell may huff and rumble about how he won’t agree to having a legitimate trial in The Senate but time is actually on The Democrats side.
So how can they enhance that power and push harder for a fair Senate trial? Again, the key is going after Trump’s insecurity and manias, he is the weak link in the Republican chain, break him and they all tumble down.
What if, the longer Trump allows this refusal of a fair trial in The Senate to drag on, the more public hearings into his impeachable offenses Democrats hold and the more Articles of Impeachment they may vote on, making an even bigger case against Trump when the trial finally does take place? And if, in the meantime, courts finally decide against Trump’s lawsuits on refusing to allow his Admin to testify and provide documents, even more explosive Articles of Impeachment could be developed and added to those already passed.
In this high stakes negotiation, it’s not enough to let Trump twist in the wind on whether a fair trial in the Senate would be better or worse than never getting an acquittal he can campaign on. Dems should ramp up the pressure, squeeze Trump and McConnell harder so that it becomes even more untenable to let time go by without conceding to a fair trial.
Again, Trump is the ultimate “decider” here, he is easier to go after than McConnell and if he can be forced into a corner, he’ll order McConnell to give in. Trump is transactional, he’ll understand the concept of, “Okay, I give them a trial with a couple of witnesses, I’ll get my acquittal. Quid pro quo, I get it.”
As the saying goes about negotiating, the most important thing is to know when you’re in the driver’s seat. The Dems are in the stronger position on this and they should not let the media or attacks and threats against them to turn them away from this course.
Trump’s engine and key weakness are the same thing, his ego. Putin, Kim Jong un, Erdoğan, MBS, etc. have all played and rolled Trump by attacking or pandering to his ego. Nothing succeeds like success. Learning from the experience of others, Dems should have the confidence to stay the course, increase the pressure on Trump’s ego until he folds like a wet Cheeto.