Politics at any level can be pretty harsh, and learning how to play chess is a great tool if you are interested in running for office or becoming active in campaigns. Political operatives get paid a lot of money to figure out different scenarios and strategy.
The Democratic House of Representatives is likely to impeach President Donald Trump because they believe he may have committed impeachable offenses, but the Republican Senate is not likely to convict him at trial. Both parties win, as neither party wants Trump removed through impeachment.
The strategy is the same as with the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. For Clinton’s Senate trial, the Republicans were playing a long game, and now the Democrats have joined them. Republicans didn’t want Clinton removed, but they did want both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton tarnished, in addition to Clinton. If Clinton was removed, Gore would have become the acting president and a sympathetic presidential candidate, which could have resulted in Gore winning two terms.
And that long-term thinking? The Republicans anticipated that Hillary Clinton would run for president after Gore. As a result, the Clinton-Gore names were linked at every opportunity to tarnish all three as much as possible and start independent voters viewing Hillary less favorably.
The application to today’s impeachment discussion is similar, but there is an important, though unlikely, twist. The Republican Senate wants to use the process to protect Trump and his authority to appoint judges and implement conservative policy. Their plan is to control the judiciary for the next 30 years, with the United States Supreme Court as a backstop.
Democrats want to defeat Trump at the ballot box and use the turnout to take over the Senate, while retaining the House. Democrats fear if the Senate were to convict Trump, Vice President Mike Pence would become the acting president and could be elected president in the fall. Pence is more familiar with government and would likely not make as many unforced elementary errors as Trump.
And the twist I mentioned?
At the end of last week, Pence’s name surfaced in the impeachment inquiry, and he was not being cooperative with documents requested by House Democrats. What did Pence know and when? And what did he do? If the Democrats in the House can find an impeachable error by Pence and figure out a way to take out both Trump and Pence, Nancy Pelosi, as speaker, is third in line to the presidency. If Pence were impeached and removed with no one in the vice president’s position, the speaker of the House moves up. President Nancy Pelosi!
How many Republicans want to see that happen?
None. So the Republicans will try and keep a damaged Trump or Pence in place at almost any cost, including control of the Senate. Adding Pence to the impeachment process weakens the Trump-Pence ticket now, and Pence in the future. You will hear more linkage of the two names.
There will be all kinds of new chess moves before we get to the 2020 election, so prepare for a bumpy ride.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.