It’s funny when you think about it. The Democrats, and especially NBC/MSNBC have spent most of the last two months bombarding viewers with teasers about two action packed nights of 20 Democratic candidates, side-by-side, ten each night, spending two hours a night in the political version of America’s Got Talent.And all it takes is one guy who dresses like a funeral director at the front door to turn all of that into a third rate dog and pony show.
Oh, the debates will go on, I assure you. But starting at 10:01 PM tomorrow night, I fully expect to see both MSNBC and CNN with countdown clocks in the lower right hand corner, “MUELLER TESTIFIES 19 days 17 hours 39 minutes 12 seconds. I think that one of the items under negotiations between the committees and Mueller for his testimony was whether or not the networks could book The Second Coming as Mueller’s warm up act. Mueller’s testimony before congress will make James Comey’s testimony look about as compelling as a Tom Steyer ad.
But what happens then? What happens on July 18, 2019, once the hearings are over, and Robert Mueller has moved to Bangladesh and disconnected his cell phone? I’ll tell you what happens next. Not a goddamned thing, that’s what happens next. Because that’s how politics is played, “Hurry up and wait.” Oh, the networks will take their scalpels to every second of the testimony, until it looks like Da Vinci’s The Dissected Man. But politically? Bupkis.
Let’s look at the dynamics here. On the one hand, you have the “Impeach Trumpers,” who say he needs to go, and time’s-a-wastin’. And on the other hand, you have Nancy Pelosi, who is dead set against moving on impeachment until it is more palatable publicly. And in the middle, you have a whole bunch of people who are keeping their powder dry, so that they don’t look like schmucks to their constituents when it all comes out in the wash.
As with so many things in life, in politics timing is everything. Mueller’s testimony is on July 17th, a Wednesday. You figure it will take 5-7 days for the first purely post Mueller testimony polling to hit the streets, and those will just be the first couple of polls. So, that’s the week of July 22nd we’re talking about. And what happens the week after that?
Congress goes on freakin’ summer vacation! For like 5 weeks. You heard that right, a whole bunch of people who just started their jobs on January 2nd will take off for five weeks of paid vacation. Sucks to be us, don’t it? If only we had made better career choices, and didn’t have those pesky moral decency twinges holding us back.
But all of those adorable congress critters won’t be spending all fie weeks at the beach. Oh no, they’ll be seeing neighbors and constituents in stores and restaurants, in bars and mall parking lots. And quite a few of them will be holding town halls with their constituents. And that’s when the real rubber will meet the road. That’s what will turn dry polling numbers on a piece of paper into flesh and blood bitching and moaning. When people start standing in front of a microphone and asking their representative, “When are you going to get Trumpzilla out of there, before he knocks over the Washington Monument?”, that’s when the Impeach Trump train picks up steam. If it does.
It will all be the Robert Mueller show. He is the last 5 minutes of the fireworks show on the 4th of July. Congress leaves town a week later, and unless Nadler calls his troops back at some point during the August recess to hear from more witnesses, Mueller’s testimony will be what people will have to remember, and stay fired up about. The media can try to keep the issue front and center, and topical, but when it comes right down to it, how vivid and compelling of a picture of Trump criminality Robert Mueller paints with his words on July 17th may well decide whether the Trump impeachment goes forward, or withers on the vine.
The month of August will tell the tale. If Nancy Pelosi goes home to Frisco, and gets jeered off of the stage a couple of more times, it’ll make the point. Even more so, the point will be made if representatives start coming out publicly in the last two weeks of the August recess for impeachment inquiries, following the lead of their constituents. If Democratic activists and even just concerned constituents start packing town halls the way GOP shills did during the ACA debate, and polling shows impeachment approval nosing up towards 50%. life could get very interesting after Labor Day.
We should know by about September 15th. If we get there, and Nancy Pelosi is still talking about “continuing the investigations,” then impeachment is dead. The Democrats will continue to hold hearings, press for testimony by subpoena of Trump confidants, and hope the constant drip-drip of scandal weakens Trump for November of 2020. But if Jerry Nadler sits there in his committee chair on September 12th or thereabouts, and announces that a formal impeachment inquiry will begin on October 1st, then all bets are off, and Jerry Nadler is magically transformed into the Ayatollah of Rock-N-Rolla. Don’t touch that dial.