No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy

Why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment gambit will fail.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

This week, House Democrats moved to begin an impeachment inquiry into the Trump administration. Specifically, into a call he made to the Ukrainian President in July.

It is possible that this move, a long-time coming and certain to excite liberal progressives still smarting from the underwhelming, anti-climactic end of the Mueller investigation, has already paid in dividends for Pelosi and her Democratic caucus.

But it is also possible that this latest Democratic plan, while brilliant on its own merits, might have inadvertently gone awry.

And played directly into the hands of the enemy.

Pelosi’s Big Blunder?

What do progressive hard-liners like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and the Justice Democrats who funded her campaign have in common with Donald Trump?

They both want to put hard-line progressives at the front and center of the Democratic Party.

That’s two radical factions, working together to slice up the middle. Hard-line progressives have an agenda that will alienate most moderate voters. They are hard-liner because in their stated goals it is liberal progressive all the way, or the highway.

Their message to incumbent moderate Democrats in swing districts has been clear: If Democratic moderates aren’t liberal enough, there’s the door.

Many moderate swing-district Dems barely won in 2018 when Trump wasn’t on the ballot, and they are sweating bullets about re-election in a robust Trump economy, anyway.

Nevertheless, left-to-middle primary challenges are already well underway. Not even longtime incumbent committee chairs with stellar Democratic voting records are safe.

The Justice Democrats don’t want to take out every incumbent Democrat; just the ones who don’t agree with them.

Hard-line progressives would also remove any Democrat who doesn’t agree to back the liberal progressive legislative agenda over the agenda of home district constituents who donated, voted, and elected a moderate Democrat to represent them.

That’s a big ask.

The biggest problem is that President Donald Trump, and Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, want exactly the same thing.

Trump wants to see hard-line progressives get every outlandish thing on a list that encompasses everything from opening U.S. borders and abolishing ICE to federal funding for political campaigns onto the Democratic agenda and into the press.

Because that list absolutely terrifies moderate and independent voters.

Does it terrify them more or less than the prospect of Donald Trump asking the new President of Ukraine to look into the Bidens?

Hard to say. Of course Trump is trying to engineer the election in his own favor; so are Democrats. The problem for Democrats it that the situation with Hunter Biden, and his $50,000 per month job with the under-investigation Ukrainian energy firm, doesn’t leave Democrats coming off much better.

But by pushing Justice Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her fellow squad members, to the fore, the Trump campaign has Democrats right where they want them.

This side-shot at Biden, which Trump must have counted on when this scandal broke, is likely to prove terrible timing for the Biden campaign. But it is perfect timing to help push Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the finish line to become the Democratic nominee.

This has the Democratic National Committee in something of a difficult situation already. Warren has been perfectly clear in her intentions towards Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans.

As a result, some big Democratic donors are not prepared to support Warren for President if Democrats nominate her. Some have even threatened to support Trump in 2020.

When both Karl Rove and Rahm Emmanuel say worry, worry.

But for hard-line progressives, voting out moderates in the Democratic Party, and moving the Democratic Party far leftward, is the end and the means to achieving their lofty goals of redressing social and racial injustice as they see fit. So whether moderate Democrats are defeated in primary challenges, or voted out of swing districts in favor of Republicans, this goal is achieved.

What progressive Democrats are failing to understand is that Trump’s goal- and what he considers the key to beating Democrats at the polls in 2020- is exactly the same thing.

Remove any Democratic connections to the past, to the halcyon days of President Barack Obama. Remove any appeal to moderates who long to a return of the normal, boring politics of yesterday.

In battle, in chess, in poker; winning doesn’t mean going into the contest with a really crafty plan.

Winning means not doing what your enemy wants and expects you to do, even if it was what you planned to do. It means not underestimating your foe. Again.

For Democrats, it means not relying on polls that predict a comfortable Democratic win by anyone Democrats put up against Trump in 2020; they are the same polls that were so disastrously wrong in 2016.

Above all, winning means never forgetting that the enemy you plan to face also has a plan to face you.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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