Impeachment Impressions from a Hemisphere Away

While the Senate impeachment trial unfolded in Washington, we were half a world away, visiting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on a trip planned months before. While south of the equator, we were only vaguely aware of the reports that former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s upcoming book included allegations directly implicating President Trump in the events at issue in the Impeachment trial, of the controversy surrounding Trump Defense Lawyer Alan Dershowitz’ bizarre argument in the president’s defense, and of the speculation as to whether the Senate would call additional witnesses.

One of the highlights of our visit was a tour of Rio’s historic district, Centro, provided to us by Daniel, an extremely personable and truly trilingual Carioca. (I came to the city understanding that all Rio residents were Cariocas; with a twinkle in his eye, Daniel advised me that one needs to be born in Rio to truly be considered a Carioca; mere Rio residence, no matter how lengthy, is not enough to qualify.) He quickly felt like a friend. He has an extensive background in Brazilian history. Well into the tour, I asked him about an article that had run that week in the major Brazilian daily, O Globo, which reported that Transparency International had placed Brazil in the bottom half of all of the world’s countries in its Corruptions Perceptions Index. (Full Disclosure: O Globo is published in Portuguese; this was the only article I could decipher all week because “corrupcao” readily translates to “corruption,” and the piece depicted by graph Brazil’s corruption ranking among the world’s nations.)

Brazilians have contempt for most of their politicians, due to the country’s level of corruption. Of their three prior presidents, one has been convicted of corruption, a second faces charges for leading a “criminal organization,” and the third has been impeached within a context that she had served as Chairwoman of Petrobras, the semi-public Brazilian oil and gas company, at a time when billions derived from Petrobras operations were illicitly changing hands at Brazilians’ expense. Other Brazilian officials are in prison due to illegal enrichment related to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Daniel hadn’t seen the O Globo article, but wasn’t surprised by it; he is angry at the level of corruption in his country. As an example, he pointed to the new train tracks at our feet, installed in the historic district’s cobblestone streets prior to the Olympics to facilitate transportation during the Games, and indicated that the project ended up costing Brazilians millions of Brazilian Real (R$) more than necessary, due to kickbacks. He is an enthusiastic supporter of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current right-wing President elected in 2018. President Bolsonaro is a nationalist and a populist. As widely reported, Mr. Bolsonaro is skeptical of environmentalists’ claims about the Amazon, and favors more development in the region. He opposes socialism and LBGT rights. But Daniel made a passing reference only to Mr. Bolsonaro’s positions on the Amazon, instead emphasizing a factor rarely mentioned in the Western media: Mr. Bolsonaro appears to be honest – a unicorn in Brazilian politics. Although a member of the Brazilian national legislature for decades, he was not tainted by any of the scandals that have felled his predecessors. He ran on a pledge to reduce crime and root out corruption. Daniel believes his country has greatness within it. He sees that it can only be achieved through honest government.

The contrast between Daniel’s belief in Mr. Bolsonaro’s honesty and Daniel’s aspirations for his nation, on one hand, and Mr. Trump’s tribal-driven impeachment acquittal, on the other, could not be starker. U.S. TN Sen. Lamar Alexander stated before the vote: “There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this … The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did …. [Mr. Trump’s removal via impeachment] would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist …. Let the people decide [Emphasis Added].”

U.S. NE Sen. Ben Sasse stated: “Let me be clear, Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us.”

U.S. FL Sen. Marco Rubio stated: “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office. I will not vote to remove the President because doing so would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage to our already divided nation. [Emphasis Added].”

While there is certainly merit to the argument that Mr. Trump’s removal from office via impeachment could incite potentially irreparable divisions between our people – an apprehension held by one very close to me – I would nonetheless submit that for Senators who have taken an oath to protect the Constitution, such concern should have been irrelevant, and is no more than a self-serving rationale designed to protect the Senator’s own political position and/or legacy. Messrs. Rubio and Sasse, and those Republican Senators whom Mr. Sasse claimed Mr. Alexander “spoke for,” have, as was the case with former Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, abdicated the responsibility placed upon them by the Constitution rather than confront Mr. Trump. We are sacrificing to partisanship, greed, and fear our dedication to right, truth, and justice that the Brazilian tour guide and billions around the world yearn for: the very characteristic that actually made us great.

On Senator Mitt Romney

Although I suspect that most that wish to have already heard U.S. UT Sen. Mitt Romney’s speech on the Senate floor, setting forth his rationale in voting to convict President Trump under the Article of Impeachment alleging that the President had abused the power of his office, a link to the speech is set forth below. If you haven’t heard it, take the eight minutes to listen to it in its entirety. (I would submit that it is worth another eight minutes even if you have.)  Among his remarks, Sen. Romney offered the following:

“I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am [Senator’s pause]. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”

“The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the President …. The people will judge [Senators] for how well and faithfully we perform our duty.”

“I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?”

“[W]ith my vote I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me … We are all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siWFNYgnJdE

We watched the speech live. I was and remain moved by the faith and patriotism infused within it. I indicated to TLOML that I would prefer Sen. Romney as President over anyone now running from any party. Her reaction was more profound: “He’s a real man.”

Anyone that pays any attention to the hyper-partisan political environment in which we live is acutely aware of the virulent attacks and physical threats Mr. Romney and his family will face for as long as Mr. Trump retains his now cult-like grasp of the Republican Party. For what little it is worth – I have no illusions that I have much influence with the Almighty — I will say a prayer that they will have strength, and that their faith will sustain them. May the following provide them with greater comfort:

“How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen … Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord. This is why the law is benumbed, and judgment is never rendered: Because the wicked circumvent the just …

Then the Lord answered me and said:

‘For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live.’”

Habakkuk 1:2-4; 2:2-4

Nancy’s Percolating Brew … and a Pitch for Mitch: a Postscript

No one that watched the commencement of the Senate’s impeachment proceedings on January 16 could miss the solemnity of the occasion. It was striking to watch 99 Senators solemnly swear to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws.” The contrast between the Senators’ oath and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments, prior to the beginning of the trial, that he would coordinate closely with the White House in conducting the proceedings … was jarring.

In mid-November, in the post cited above, I referred to a solicitation that I had then recently received from U.S. IA Sen. Charles Grassley, seeking campaign contributions not for his benefit, but to aid the campaign of Sen. McConnell. I observed that it seemed odd for Mr. McConnell to be reaching all the way into the Midwest for support, and noted that a close friend much closer to the Bluegrass State than I am considers Mr. McConnell more vulnerable than those of us outside the region might assume. Mr. McConnell may attempt to rationalize the dichotomy between his comments and his oath, but I would submit that to people on figurative Main Street in the “Flyover Country” that the Republicans claim to represent – and perhaps in Lexington, Louisville, and Paducah – he looks like a liar. If Kentucky Democrats don’t run endless ads highlighting the contrast between Mr. McConnell’s comments about his impeachment coordination with the White House and his oath to do “impartial justice” in the Senate trial … I fear that they are passing up a significant opportunity.

Impeachment Attitudes and Electoral Reckoning

A Marist/PBS/NPR (“Marist”) Poll released on January 15, recording responses during the period, January 7 – 12, 2020, found that participants answering the question, “Based on what you know at this point, do you support or oppose the U.S. Senate removing President Trump from office?”, were evenly divided – 47% supporting removal, 47% opposed, and a mere 6% undecided. Not surprisingly, those that supported or opposed Mr. Trump’s removal were heavily skewed along party affiliation. Self-described independents were almost evenly divided, with 45% of this group supporting removal, and 47% opposed. Some have opined that these numbers are an indication that the President currently enjoys 2020 electoral strength among our people roughly equivalent to the percentage that oppose him.

I’m not so sure. I seriously question whether Mr. Trump can rely on the electoral support of all of those that oppose having him removed from office by an impeachment conviction. My inclination is partly driven by the anecdotal, partly from looking closely at the Marist poll.

I would submit that there is a segment of the electorate that strongly disagrees with Mr. Trump’s conduct of the presidency, but believes that he should be removed at the ballot box rather than through what has apparently degenerated into a partisan process. TLOML and I know two discerning Wisconsin citizens – who don’t know each other – who each voted against former WI Gov. Scott Walker in 2010, 2014, and 2018, but voted for him in the 2012 recall because they felt that Mr. Walker’s 2010 election had duly authorized him to effect his policies.

More recently, another Wisconsin resident, who has indicated that she will vote for any Democrat against Mr. Trump, told me that she strongly opposes the President’s removal via impeachment because she thinks that it would cause even greater acrimony among our people at a time that she believes we need healing and reconciliation. She was also concerned that if Vice President Mike Pence succeeded to the presidency, he might be tougher for a Democrat to beat than Mr. Trump.

This attitude, if held by a notable percentage of those opposing Mr. Trump’s impeachment-related removal, don’t bode well for the President’s electoral fortunes.

Finally, there are the detailed results of the Marist poll itself, a link to which is provided below. Seemingly of most interest in determining the correlation (or lack thereof) between the electorate’s attitude about the President’s impeachment-related removal and his 2020 electoral support are the respondents that identify as Independents, the segment presumably including most of our people who are not already irrevocably committed or opposed to the President, and those from the Midwest, home to three states that may hold the pivotal 2020 Electoral College votes. Both segments register significant contrasts in their attitudes toward Mr. Trump’s removal by impeachment and their assessment of his performance in office.

When asked whether the Senate should remove the President via impeachment, Independents were narrowly opposed to removal, 45% supporting to 47% opposed. At the same time, when asked whether they approved or disapproved of Mr. Trump’s performance in office, their sentiment flipped markedly – only 39% of Independents approved, while 55% disapproved – a fairly stunning 16% differential. Furthermore, only 24% of the approvers “strongly approved” of the President’s performance, while 41% of the disapprovers “strongly disapproved” – a 17-point enthusiasm differential. I suspect that Republicans find these sobering electoral numbers.

The responses Marist gathered from the arguably crucial Midwest segment of our electorate yields a similar dichotomy, although not as pronounced as among Independents. Midwesterners opposed the President’s removal by impeachment by 5 points, 44% supporting to 49% opposed. At the same time, when asked whether they approved or disapproved of Mr. Trump’s performance in office, Midwesterners disapproved by an 8 points margin, 44% approving, 52% disapproving. The enthusiasm gap also appears meaningful among Midwesterners: while 31% of the approvers “strongly approved” of the President’s performance, 41% of the disapprovers “strongly disapproved.”

http://maristpoll.marist.edu/npr-pbs-newshour-marist-poll-results-13/#sthash.DWlueOov.bo3Ck9ty.dpbs

It would seem that the decisive Election Day margin could come from those in key constituencies that currently oppose the President’s ouster via impeachment but disapprove of his handling of the presidency. While the Democrats’ eventual nominee will undoubtedly be the primary factor influencing the voters in this persuadable segment, perhaps the Democrats’ most important strategy in the upcoming Senate trial is to avoid an overtly-partisan presentation that will alienate them.

Impeachment Impressions; Guidance for the Speaker from the Lord … and Kenny Rogers: Part II

If one intends to review this post, but has not yet read Part I (which is immediately below), I would start there 😉

A number of commentators have opined that the reason that Ms. Pelosi has delayed in forwarding the House’s Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for adjudication is that she believes it places pressure on Sen. McConnell and his Senate Republican Leadership to hold a meaningful impeachment trial; others have suggested that the delay is strengthening the case for the President’s removal by allowing time for the unearthing of additional evidence by House investigators and the occurrence of events such as former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s recent indication that he will testify if subpoenaed by the Senate. I would suggest that for reasons practical, political, and – to me the most important — Constitutional, she should forward the Articles to the Senate without further delay.

The practical first: everyone in this country that cares to know already understands the essential – and undisputed – aspects of the Trump Administration’s efforts to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to secure domestic political advantage for Mr. Trump. Everyone in this country – undoubtedly down to the junior member of the Senate maintenance crew – likewise knows that Mr. Trump is going to be acquitted in the Senate. I am confident that Ms. Pelosi is not so naïve as to believe that any additional testimony is going to change the outcome. Will sworn testimony by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney be any more incriminating to the President than Mr. Mulvaney’s blurted admission of the quid pro quo from the White House podium? Will sworn testimony by Mr. Bolton, confirming Fiona Hill’s testimony that he referred to the Administration’s Ukrainian-related efforts as a “drug deal” and credible media accounts that he urged Mr. Trump to release the Ukrainian aid, have any probative impact upon a decisive number of Republican Senators judging the Articles? To ask the questions is to answer them.

As the Lord said in a more celestial context: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15.

Ms. Pelosi must recognize that everyone who has ears to hear … has already heard. She should move ahead.

As to the political: if the Articles are going to fail in the Senate, how best to paint the outcome for the November election? It would arguably seem that the more rigorous the Senate trial appears, the more credibly the President and his supporters will be able to claim, following his inevitable acquittal, that the Democrats’ entire initiative was a “Witch Hunt.” If they are going to lose anyway, I would suggest that the more the Senate proceedings seem a kangaroo court, the easier it will be for Democrats to label the President’s inevitable acquittal a whitewash and vulnerable swing state Republican Senators as mere party lackeys. Delay can be as politically dangerous to the Democrats as to the Republicans; I note that since the recent strike on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, Sen. McConnell has sought to invoke Americans’ patriotic spirit by calling Mr. Trump “the Commander in Chief” while discussing the upcoming impeachment proceedings.

I am confident that Ms. Pelosi and her Leadership team, along with the rest of us of a certain vintage, well recall the legendary advice of Kenny Rogers’ Gambler:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run…

It’s time for Ms. Pelosi to fold ‘em … and walk away.

Finally, the Constitutional: Anyone who reads these pages is well aware of the extremely low regard I have for Sen. McConnell. Of all the patently partisan things that the Senate Majority Leader has perpetrated, to me his failure to schedule confirmation hearings on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court was a despicable dereliction of his duty. The Constitution’s drafters obviously believed that the Senate would act in good faith in performing its various responsibilities, and didn’t consider it necessary to prescribe a time limit for the Senate to commence deliberations on a President’s nominees. Mr. McConnell should have promptly scheduled confirmation hearings on Judge Garland even if it was preordained that the Republican-controlled Senate would ultimately reject the nomination. He didn’t because he wished to enable Republican Senators to avoid embarrassing, blatantly-partisan votes. He failed in his constitutional duty. I would suggest that by the same token, now that the House has approved two Articles of Impeachment against a President – the weightiest of the House’s Constitutional responsibilities – it is incumbent upon Ms. Pelosi to promptly forward the Articles to the Senate. Whether or not the President is acquitted in the Senate, by commencing impeachment proceedings, House Democrats did what they (and I) felt they were constitutionally obligated to do. Even if there is some gap in the Constitution’s provisions that arguably enables House Leadership to delay in forwarding the Articles to the Senate, they should nonetheless do what Senate Republicans failed to do with regard to Judge Garland’s nomination: respect the spirit, as well as the letter, of the process that the drafters created.

A postscript to an earlier post: not long ago in a note related to impeachment, I quoted one of the founding fathers of modern conservative thought, Edmund Burke, referring to him as an “Englishman.” Only after it was published did I recall that although Mr. Burke represented the English city of Bristol while in Parliament, he was in fact born in Dublin, and should thus should have been described as Anglo-Irish. I can but offer a sheepish apology to the sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle that follow these pages who, given the warm and forgiving hearts for which our people are known, kindly chose not to take me to task ;). I also apologize to any reviewer of this note who finds the lyrics of The Gambler embedded in his/her mind for the rest of the day …

Impeachment Impressions; Guidance for the Speaker from the Lord … and Kenny Rogers: Part I

At the time this is posted, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic Leadership Team are yet to forward to the Senate the two Articles of Impeachment against President Trump passed by the House in December. Reports indicate that she has been holding the Articles in an attempt to pressure Republican Senate Majority Leader, U.S. KY Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Mr. McConnell’s Republican Leadership Team, to conduct a meaningful trial of the Articles in the Senate. As the parties bandy back and forth regarding the framework of the upcoming procedure, several impressions emerge:

The President and his supporters persist in calling impeachment a “coup” – short for coup d’etat. It isn’t. My trusty American Heritage Dictionary defines the term – originally French for “stroke of state,” as, “A sudden stroke of state policy involving deliberate violation of constitutional forms by a group of persons in authority [Emphasis added].” By my count, the Constitution refers to impeachment proceedings in five places: Article I, Sections 2 and 3; Article II, Sections 2 and 4; and Article III, Section 2. Whether or not one believes that the President’s imposition upon a vulnerable and reliant foreign ally for assistance against a domestic political rival constituted an offense sufficient to warrant his removal from office under Article II, Section 4, the House impeachment proceedings, which followed the Constitution’s outlines, have in no way constituted a “coup” (nor did the House’s 1998 impeachment of President Clinton). Even though the President’s acolytes are willing to ignore his flouting of his constitutional constraints, I wish that they would at least have the grace not to misrepresent the meaning of a commonly-used English term [even if it is originally French ;)].

The President and his supporters persist in claiming that the impeachment proceedings are intended to “reverse the result of the 2016 election,” “take away the votes of 63 million people,” etc., etc. Again, no matter what one thinks of the weight and merits of the charges against Mr. Trump, this is poppycock [or, as former Vice President Joe Biden might say: malarkey ;)]. By providing for the concept of impeachment in the Constitution, the Founders contemplated that duly-elected officials might behave sufficiently inappropriately to justify their removals from office. If Mr. Trump is removed following the Senate impeachment trial, his successor will not be the 2016 Democratic Party Presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; obviously, it will be Vice President Mike Pence. The 63 million people whose votes the Republicans claim would be forfeited if the Senate convicts Mr. Trump voted for Mr. Pence, too; presumably they believed that Mr. Pence would represent them well if, for whatever reason, Mr. Trump could no longer continue as President.

Putting aside these unfounded oratory flailings by the President and his cohort, to me their most insidious claim is their insinuation that those that support Mr. Trump’s removal from office “don’t like” the President’s supporters. In an October, 2019, piece entitled, “Impeaching Trump Voters,” conservative Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn wrote, in part, the following:

“So why the rush [to proceed with impeachment]? Maybe … there’s an itch to punish Trump voters for what they did in 2016. In other words, it isn’t enough that Mr. Trump be defeated. His whole presidency must be delegitimized, along with the people who voted him in. … [I]t doesn’t seem to occur to Democrats that the president’s supporters stick with him in part because they appreciate that the Trump hatred is directed at them as well. [Emphasis Added].”

During the House impeachment proceedings, U.S. OH Rep. Jim Jordan said the following:

“It’s not just … [the Democrats] don’t like the President. … They don’t like us. They don’t like the 63 million people who voted for this President. All of us in flyover country. All of us common folk in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Texas — they don’t like us. … That’s what this is about. They don’t like the President. They don’t like the President’s supporters. And they don’t like us so much that they’re willing to weaponize the government. … Going after 63 million people and the guy we put in the White House. …”

Claims such as those leveled by Messrs. McGurn and Jordan are malignant calumny designed to exploit Trump supporters for Republican political advantage. Since there is no indication that Russia manipulated actual 2016 presidential vote totals and Special Counsel Robert Mueller found insufficient evidence to show that the 2016 Trump Campaign conspired with the Russian Government to elect Mr. Trump, I consider Mr. Trump to have validly won the presidency under our Constitution’s Electoral College framework. He – not unlike U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders — provided a voice for millions of well-intended people who for decades have felt impugned and ignored by the comfortable elites of both parties. Mr. Jordan alluded to Trump supporters in my own state of Wisconsin; from our own travels, I would add to his list well-intended Trump supporters we have met in Utah, Missouri, and Alaska. One can have affection and affinity for well-intended Trump supporters and still believe that the President should be removed because he exploited the power of the presidency for his own personal advantage (as noted earlier in these pages, reading the Call Manuscript — as the President urged — was enough for me). Mr. Trump’s defenders are seeking to distract and incite his followers specifically because no substantive defense can be mounted regarding the President’s actions. Their behavior is execrable.

And we haven’t even gotten to the Lord or Mr. Rogers. That in Part II of this note.

On the December Democratic Debate

Prelude: In a little-noted Gospel passage, the Lord once remarked that doing one’s share in order to maintain marital harmony during the Holiday Season supersedes any urge one has to enter blog posts; I wisely followed His guidance  ;). Except for the italicized postscript, the following was primarily composed on the night of the debate.

Clearly, having only seven candidates on the stage made for a livelier, more interesting, more substantive exchange among the participants. I would suggest that three gained advantage; three lost ground; and one was present. In reverse order:

Businessman Tom Steyer was present. Mr. Steyer made a solid presentation, is likeable enough, and is clearly hankering to take on President Trump … but I didn’t see the springboard in his performance necessary to propel him to the nomination.

Two of the three losing ground: U.S. VT Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren. They lost ground because … they were themselves (full disclosure: although I find his ideas too radical, I really enjoy Sen. Sanders; as any reader of these pages is aware, I don’t find Sen. Warren nearly as appealing). They clung to Medicare for All and predictably repeated their assertion that the nation needs Big Change; Ms. Warren specifically repeated her assertion that the party needs to draw a sharp contrast with Mr. Trump. While one admires their sincerity, the impression persists that the agenda that they seek to place before the American people is prohibitively expensive, has no chance of Congressional passage, and will be fatal campaign fodder for Republicans in a year in which Democrats are generally more interested in winning than in specific policy directions.

The unexpected loser of ground: South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg. In an extended and testy exchange with Sen. Warren about finances and fundraising, both scored off the other if you listened to the substance, but Ms. Warren’s “Wine Cave Fundraiser” appellation for Mr. Buttigieg is the memory that lingers. U.S. MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s pointed reference to Mr. Buttigieg’s loss in his one Indiana statewide race and her implication that a South Bend mayoralty was insufficient background for the presidency also scored. The Mayor seemed a bit off-balance in his responses. This year’s Democratic Shiny New Toy seemed to take on a bit of tarnish.

Two clear gainers: Ms. Klobuchar and Businessman Andrew Yang. Ms. Klobuchar, despite a slow campaign start, has persevered and I would suggest that she may have scored well enough to stage an impressive showing in the Iowa caucuses, a must for her campaign’s viability. Even more, she unquestionably laid a very solid case for the party’s Vice Presidential nomination if she can’t secure the top spot. I would venture that Mr. Yang has no chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination, but he’s hung around long enough and done well enough [his adherents apparently refer to themselves as, “The Yang Gang :)], that from at least one perspective he’s beginning to look like an appealing choice for the Democratic Vice Presidential nomination.

The clear winner: former Vice President Joe Biden. In past debates, I have said that I thought Mr. Biden won by not losing; in this most recent debate, he arguably won outright (at worst, he tied for best performance with Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Yang). He was disciplined and decisive in the majority of his responses; he seemed in command. He looked like the nominee. He sounded like the nominee. Most importantly, he looked and sounded like he was ready for Donald Trump. His allusion to the Republicans’ attacks on his son and himself was deft. In his closing, he sounded like he was wishing Americans Happy Holidays and thanking the PBS team on behalf of the Democratic Party, not just for himself. My mother used to say, “One Swallow doesn’t make a Summer,” and Mr. Biden had best be ready to render a similar performance in the mid-January debate; but this performance seems likely to have quieted some supporters’ doubts and solidified or enhanced his lead during the next month – a critical period in which any candidate will arguably need to make a strong run prior to the Iowa Caucuses.

In a CNN post-debate interview, Sen. Klobuchar indicated that in a meeting she had attended just prior to the debate, she had urged Senate Democratic Leadership to negotiate with Senate Republican Leadership for a thorough impeachment trial in the Senate that would include testimony from as-yet-unheard senior Trump Administration officials. Her comments made me reflect ;). Given my political junkie reading over the years, I am certain that if either John Kennedy or Bill Clinton was serving in the Senate today (Mr. Clinton obviously never served in the Senate), poised as Ms. Klobuchar is to launch an Iowa campaign blitz that would make or break his presidential campaign, he would urge Senate Democratic Leadership to forego a rigorous impeachment trial; each would readily justify skimping on a hallowed constitutional process by rationalizing that the country would be better off with him in the White House than by miring him in a lengthy proceeding seemingly destined to yield an inevitable result in which he would ultimately cast a meaningless vote. Ms. Klobuchar’s desire for the Senate to conduct a meaningful constitutional procedure without regard to the potential consequences for her candidacy underscores why she’d make a fine president … and why she perhaps won’t secure the nomination.

On they march.

Postscript: While the prevailing liberal punditry is apparently to the effect that Mayor Buttigieg got the better of his back-and-forth with Sen. Warren, I remain skeptical; if my assessment has validity, the ultimate beneficiary of the exchange ironically might not be Sen. Warren, but Sen. Klobuchar. There are a number of followers of these pages that know Iowa much better than I, but I don’t think they have many Wine Caves in the Hawkeye State, and the viability of both Ms. Klobuchar’s and Mr. Buttigieg’s campaigns seemingly depend in large part on their showing in the Iowa Caucuses.

Hope your Holidays have thus far been all that you wished for.