Friday, May 10, 2019


The New York Times reports:
Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer ... said he plans to travel to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in the coming days and wants to meet with the nation’s president-elect to urge him to pursue inquiries that allies of the White House contend could yield new information about two matters of intense interest to Mr. Trump.

One is the origin of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.

... [The] motivation is to try to discredit the special counsel’s investigation; undermine the case against Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman; and potentially to damage Mr. Biden, the early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
This seems ominous, but I question the value of it to Trump and the Republicans.

Many people believe that Democrats are making a political mistake by pursuing Trump as forcefully as they are now, and by threatening impeachment. Voters, we're told, want legislation, not more investigation. Apart from a minority of Trump-hating zealots, we're told, the electorate wants Democrats to focus on issues.

I question the accuracy of this. But if it's true -- if voters, especially swing voters, want Democrats to concentrate on passing laws to improve Americans' lives -- then wouldn't it be wise for Trump to appear to be the one who's above the fray? Shouldn't he be talking exclusively about legislation? Instead, we're told, he's still trying to discredit the Mueller investigation. If continuing to focus on this thrills the Democrats' base but alienates voters they need in the middle, why isn't that also true for Trump?

And on Biden, the Trumpers are using the same playbook the GOP used against Hillary Clinton: find what appears to be corruption, sell the narrative to the mainstream media, and watch the Democrat's poll numbers fall. In the 2016 campaign, it worked. It seems as if it should work again -- it's clear that the Times, for instance, is eager once again to report this kind of dirt once again on the top Democrat, even if the story doesn't hold up.

But Joe Biden may not be Hillary Clinton. To haters and skeptics, corruption is part of Hillary Clinton's brand. Biden doesn't have that reputation -- those of us who think he was far too cozy with the financial industry might see him as bought and paid for, but the general public doesn't seem to regard Biden that way. He appears to have quite a bit of Teflon on this (and several other issues) -- much more than Clinton did.

Trumpers might believe that tarnishing Biden's reputation will be as easy as tarnishing Clinton's. But that might not be the case if the public sees Biden, rightly or wrongly, as much more honest.

The Trump team might be fighting the last war, not realizing that the new enemy isn't like the old one.

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