During Watergate Tennessee Senator Howard Baker sided with Democrats against Nixon and now there’s talk of history repeating itself, with Lamar Alexander, 79, who will be retiring at the end of this year, breaking ranks and voting to hear witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial. Politico:

Three GOP senators have expressed some level of support for calling witnesses, and if they joined all Democrats, it would result in a 50-50 tie and likely be defeated. Unless Chief Justice John Roberts shocked Washington by wading in with a tie-break, Democrats need one more Republican to break ranks and upend GOP plans for a swift Trump acquittal.

That’s got both parties eagerly eyeing Alexander. He’s a retiring defender of the Senate as an institution who’s occasionally bucked his party, but he also counts Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a longtime ally. He’s more hesitant to criticize Trump than are someother Republicans, but he also has said it was “inappropriate” for Trump to ask foreign governments to investigate his political opponents. […]

“Inappropriate” is the least that can be said. Treasonous and corrupt are more like it. But, I do grasp the thinking here. If you’ve got a Republican senator who is even willing to go on record with “inappropriate” that is a ray of sunshine coming through a crack in an otherwise impenetrable wall. Like the drowning man grasping for the straw, we’ll take hope wherever we can find it.

Democrats, meanwhile, are holding out hope that Alexander will be their hero in the mold of the late Sen. John McCain, whose extraordinary vote derailed the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare. Though Alexander would never blindside McConnell the way McCain did, he is widely believed to be a Republican who could be receptive to Democrats’ message that the Senate needs to hear more evidence.

“There is an opportunity here for Sen. Alexander, who has long been a leader in crafting bipartisan resolutions to impasses, to play a significant, even a historic role,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who has spoken with Alexander about witness testimony. “He is so well-respected in his caucus that there are a number of other senators that are also looking to him.”

Alexander is unlikely to be the 51st vote for witnesses and throw momentary control of the Senate to the Democrats. More likely, if he’s feeling the need to hear new evidence in the trial, other Republicans would join him and scramble plans on how to handle witnesses and documents.

Hope springs eternal. Alexander is a longtime ally of McConnell, but now he’s expected to rise above that and do the right thing. Since he is retiring the end of the year, he may feel more free to vote his conscience than if he was running for reelection. On the other hand, letting Trump walk so that more more stacking of the courts with conservative judges can take place, may be voting his conscience.

It’s interesting how this impeachment trial is playing out. Everybody knows that Trump is guilty as hell and that acquittal is in the bag, anyhow, but Democrats are searching in the dark corners to see if there’s a vote that they’ve overlooked, and hoping that maybe the senator in question has some special reason to vote for witnesses and uphold the rule of law — because we live in a day and age where the world’s greatest deliberative body can no longer be counted upon to deliberate, so we have to look for deep personal motivation on someone’s part to do the job they were elected to do.

Personally, I wouldn’t look to Lamar Alexander to break ranks and be democracy’s saviour. I think this is wet dream Democratic thinking. But, on the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice to see a John McCain moment, coming from Alexander? Wouldn’t it be nice to see the second coming of Howard Baker? It would be beyond nice, it would be downright mesmerizing, the kind of gesture to restore one’s faith in humanity. Think about it, keep it in the back of your mind — but don’t count on it.

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22 Comments on "Lamar Alexander Expected To Do A John McCain Moment and Vote For Witnesses, Fact or Fantasy?"

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mae
Member

I’m confused, didn’t he already vote against witnesses? Why would he vote for witnesses, at the end of the trial? If any Republican was going to vote for witnesses, they would have done so at the beginning, right? Maybe I need some more coffee.

Rita
Member

Mae, to answer your question, they have not voted on witnesses yet, this has been a shame by McConnell, you can’t have a real trial without witnesses, but this is what they are trying to do.

mae
Member

Thank you Rita.

Tin woman1
Guest

I’ll watch but not hold my breath.

Lone Wolf
Member

Do not listen to what they (GOP) say…watch what they do…

CAZ
Guest

Don’t kid yourself. Pence would pack the courts with religious zealots.

mae
Member

Lamar’s choice is, vote with his reprehensible colleagues, or vote against them, and be hated and reviled by them, for the rest of his life.

p j evans
Member

Isn’t he retiring at the end of this term?

mae
Member

Yes.

Bareshark
Guest

As he’s my Senator, I’d call it a coin toss. He literally has nothing left to lose and may just shoot the people he thinks ruined his party (though, make no mistake, this grand phony contributed his share on that) a final middle finger.

Brendan
Guest
Is the comment “The worlds greatest deliberative body” meant to be taken seriously? I’m not an American so maybe I’m missing some of the local nuances. However, my humble opinion is that the Senate is a partisan mess. It does not deliberate, it merely goes through the motions according to your ‘esteemed leaders’ will. I find it staggering that Senators can take an oath to do impartial justice knowing that they will do the complete opposite. There really is no excuse for this sort of two faced, fork tongued rhetoric, where is the accountability?, where is the honour?, where is… Read more »
CAZ
Guest

I do hope you are wrong about never getting it back. An amoral showman who reverberated with old white people who felt the US was passing them by got help from a russian propaganda machine against an unliked opponent and won the White House. It was, hopefully, a perfect storm that won’t be recreated any time soon.

blueman
Member

I think I am just going to quit worrying about this. We really do want to run against Trump. Too, I want to be able to call my Senators traitors and such.