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What is predictable:
*The Democrats on the committee will act solemnly and pretend they haven’t made up their minds about impeachment.
*The initial questioning by the Democratic staff investigator will make everyone (everyone but members of the House) wonder why smart staffers don’t do more of the questioning at congressional hearings.
*The Republicans on the committee will have a game plan that will be 3/5th as clever and effective as they think it is. This will include looking for the first available opportunity to create a partisan food fight, in the hopes of getting normal Americans to think “this whole thing is just a partisan food fight.” And it will include deploying all manner of defenses of the president, including suggesting bias or overreach by witnesses.
*Democrats, who have practiced for how to defuse Republican efforts to obstruct and distract, won’t be able to limit the impact of the hijinks as much as they believe or hope.
*President Trump will tweet about and/or call any committee Republican who seems to have an effective moment.
*Speaker Pelosi will look at the performance of Chairman Schiff and be reminded, yet again, why she remains worried about Chairman Nadler.
*Always-Trumper Republican senators will say they are too busy to pay attention to the hearings, so that they can’t comment, but that the hearings are a sham. Potentially wobbly Republican senators will say that they can’t comment because they could be jurors in a Senate trial.
*Commentators, anchors, and journalists on MSNBC and CNN will treat every syllable uttered by a Democrat and every anti-Trump syllable uttered by a witness as not just the gospel truth but a revelation that is 1/3 biblical, 1/3 worthy of the Founders, and 1/3 Nancy Drew/Ellery Queen. (Link for younger readers only.)
*Commentators (minus one) and (some) anchors on Fox News Channel will treat every syllable uttered by a Republican and every pro-Trump syllable uttered by a witness as not just the gospel truth but a revelation that is 1/3 biblical, 1/3 worthy of the Founders, and 1/3 Perry Mason.
*New York Times and Washington Post reporters will spend the day tweeting things that unambiguously violate their papers’ policies on social media use, and no one will stop them.
*The most biased and anti-Trump coverage of all will come from ostensibly non-partisan media reporters.
What you really want to know:
*Do the witnesses come across as compelling, believable, non-partisan, non-Deep State heroes, or something else?
*How big a voice does Andrew Napolitano get in Fox’s impeachment coverage?
*Are the TVs at Re-Pete’s Saloon & Grille tuned into the impeachment hearings during the lunch hour today, with the audio up, and are the patrons paying attention?
Re-Pete’s is located at 300 Gebhardt Road, in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, the county seat of Jackson County, which voted Obama 57%/Romney 42% in 2012 and Trump 53%/Clinton 42% in 2016.
Adorning the regular menu at Re-Pete’s is the phrase “Water is Free, Too Bad the Beer Isn’t!” — and the words above the fish selections are “Catch & Release into the Grease!”
The place’s website prominently features this paragraph: “It’s almost time to break out the blaze orange! Welcome back to all you hunters. I know by the time you get out of the woods and all cleaned up, the last thing you want to do is cook a meal and do dishes. Why not let us handle those chores for you! We serve until 10 P.M.”
And they have a separate “Gluten Friendly Menu.”
My take: If the patrons of Re-Pete’s are glued to the hearings, the Democrats have a very strong chance of making their public case to the American people. If those same patrons aren’t even watching, Nancy Pelosi’s long-standing concern that impeaching Donald Trump will help re-elect him could well end up being realized.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (ALL MEN IN THIS CASE)
*Rudy Giuliani has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, calmly (for Rudy) laying out the core of the defense of his “client.”
My take: Rudy is still the president’s lawyer and, for now, apparently, isn’t going anywhere.
*John Bolton gave a private speech to a hedge fund that will blow your mind, including suggesting the president’s policy on Turkey seems guided by financial motives.
My take: It is unlikely that Bolton’s publisher wants him to give away the goods before his book comes out. And/but Bolton clearly has a lot more to tell than what was in this teaser speech.
*Mick Mulvaney has job lock, because the president’s advisers say now is not a good time to get rid of the acting chief of staff.
My take: This is a very believable story! Not emphasized in the piece (which suggests Mulvaney could be ousted at the first available moment, maybe before the end of the year): Who would take the job at this point?
*The Washington Post says Lev and Igor talked Ukraine with the president at a long-ago donor dinner.
My take: Not a full-on game changer, but another thread in the very rich tapestry about which books will be written some day.
*The president will be with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House today from about noon to 4pm, including a press conference scheduled for just after 3pm.
My take: On any other day, this would be a huge story, given how controversial Turkey’s behavior has been of late and how much congressional opposition there is to this visit.
*Alleged leaked emails from White House aide Stephen Miller suggests he promoted and associated with some very hateful groups and ideas.
My take: On any other day, this would be a huge story, given how controversial and powerful Miller is and how incendiary these emails are.
A new Iowa poll has Pete Buttigieg in first, but the Big 4 are all bunched up at the top, with no one else close.
My take: This is a big psychological boost for the mayor and his supporters, including on the finance side. But the bigger point for now is this: any of Buttigieg, Warren, Biden, or Sanders could finish first in both Iowa and New Hampshire. That would quickly take the crazy-quilt nomination fight from chaos to clarity in a big hurry. I’m not predicting that will happen – especially given New Hampshire voters’ history of repudiating Iowa’s results much more often than they have validated the Hawkeye State outcome – but it could.
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