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“If it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pew.” An old Baptist preacher said that years ago and it always stuck with me. Translated into secular-speak, if the speaker doesn’t present a simple, direct, crystal-clear message, the audience will never retain it.
Speaker Pelosi apparently never heard this advice. In theory, Democrats want to impeach Trump for colluding with Ukraine to get dirt on Biden. But when reporters asked her about the issue Tuesday, she blamed Ukraine’s archenemy, Vladimir Putin.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 15, 2019
In addition to claiming that “all roads seem to lead to Putin with the President,” Pelosi brought up the Constitution’s emoluments clause, a popular pre-Mueller excuse for impeachment. Why, it’s as if Democrats started with the goal of kicking Trump out of the White House and only later concocted reasons to do so.
To impeach the president and have any hope of a few GOP senators joining the effort, Pelosi and Co. must present a simple, direct, crystal-clear reason for doing so. Mueller came up empty, so Democrats need an “elevator pitch” telling independent and GOP voters why Trump’s Ukraine phone call counts as a high crime or misdemeanor.
Instead, Democrats deliver blurry photos of Putin and the Trump Hotel and Mueller and Zelensky and self-dealing and “how dare you mention Hunter Biden?!”
The poor messaging was rampant in Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate. Every candidate agreed Trump needed to be impeached, but couldn’t articulate why.
“When the Mueller report came out,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, “I read it, all 442 pages. And when I got to the end, I realized that Mueller had shown, to a fare-thee-well, that this president had obstructed justice and done it repeatedly. And so at that moment, I called for opening an impeachment inquiry.”
“It’s not just that he obstructed justice with the Mueller Report,” Sen. Bernie Sanders added. “I think that the House will find him guilty of — worthy of impeachment because of the emoluments clause.”
Joe Biden entered the fray. “I said from the beginning that if, in fact, Trump continued to stonewall what the Congress is entitled to know about his background, what he did, all the accusations in the Mueller Report, if they did that, they would have no choice — no choice — but to begin an impeachment proceeding.”
“He’s been selling out our values,” Sen. Kamala Harris explained. “He’s been selling out national security. And on this issue with Ukraine, he has been selling out our democracy.”
“I’m still waiting to find out from him how making that call to the head of Ukraine and trying to get him involved in interfering in our election makes America great again,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said. “It doesn’t make America great again. It makes Russia great again.”
Does Klobuchar think Ukraine is still part of Russia? The two nations have been on the knife-edge of war for years, yet somehow working with one is collusion with their enemy?
If the Democrats actually want to impeach Trump — a doubtful presumption given Pelosi’s behavior — this is a disastrous strategy. The fog of conflicting impeachment excuses leaves voters feeling the way they did before Trump ever called Kyiv. Those who hate him still hate him, those who love him still love him.
If, instead, Pelosi just wants to get the #resist-types off her back and let Trump remain in the Oval Office through the 2020 election, the misty messaging will work just fine. The base feasts on red meat and her red-state congresspeople won’t get destroyed next November.