Today, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi directed the House Judiciary Committee (Jerry Nadler, Chairman) to draft Articles of Impeachment saying, “The President has given us no choice.”
This decision came after a meeting of the Democrat caucus and a day of riveting testimony from a panel of four law professors. [For those of you whose sarcasm meters are in the shop for holiday repairs after Thanksgiving — this is sarcasm.]
This calls to mind two things of some portent:
If you come to kill the king, make sure to kill the king.
The importance and danger of a decisive engagement.
Make sure to kill the king
Perhaps the saddest element of this debacle is that we already know how this movie ends. President Trump will NOT be removed from office by the Senate.
The country’s legislative agenda will grind to a halt, there will be a disruption to our economy, and all of the oxygen in public discourse will be sucked from the sky. It will be temporary, but it will be substantial. On the other side of this will be a triumphant President Trump.
President Trump will argue the fundamental unfairness of the process, the inadequacy of the factual basis of the charges, and the partisan nature of the effort.
On all three defenses, he will prevail both in the Senate and in the court of public opinion.
The impeachment process will end in a victory for President Trump.
A victorious President Trump will be a force to reckon with. The Dem presidential candidate will be required to defend impeachment as a necessity to rally and solidify the Dem base. If the Dem nominee fails to defend impeachment, the election is over. If the Dem nominee defends impeachment, the election is over.
President Trump will use his victory as a cudgel to smash those who initiated it. This will go up and down the ballot driven by straight party line votes.
As a former professional soldier and a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, I have had the notion of a “decisive engagement” beaten into my head.
A decisive engagement is a battle in which the leadership — the generals — risk their forces in such a way that the only possible outcomes are a huge victory or a defeat that destroys an army.
Case in point is Hitler’s gamble at what became the Battle of the Bulge wherein he husbanded the remaining combat power of his forces (particularly his armored forces) to see if he could drive a wedge from the Ardennes to Antwerp thereby splitting the Brits and the Americans, with an eye toward a negotiated end of the war with the Allies.
As soon as Eisenhower realized this was the real deal, he absorbed the blow and used the ensuing campaign to destroy the German Army, follow it home, and win the war.
Hitler gambled and lost. Big time. Such is the nature of decisive engagements.
Another example is the Battle of Stalingrad wherein the German Sixth Army under Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus made an attack on the city of Stalingrad on the west bank of the Volga River. He unwisely punched a narrow corridor from the Don River toward Stalingrad, thereby exposing his flanks to attack, an attack that would cut him off from his base of supply on the west side of the Don River.
The Russians immediately identified this weakness and Stalin accepted the wise counsel of his generals to develop a plan to cut this corridor, surround the Sixth Army, and destroy it. Any cadet at VMI could have drawn up this battle plan because the German mistake was so obvious.
The Volga River was the most important north-south transportation avenue for the Russians bringing aid from the Persian route in the south to the center of Russia. Had Stalingrad been captured by the Germans, the Russians would have been in a real fix.
The battle of Stalingrad was the largest battle in the history of warfare and ended with the Sixth Army being surrounded, destroyed, and marched into captivity — the only German Field Marshall ever taken alive. This is how decisive engagements can end. It, also, represented the high water mark for the German invasion of Russia. From there, the Russians followed the Germans home to Berlin, destroying the German army in the process.
Hitler could have prevented this if he had allowed the German Sixth Army to withdraw from Stalingrad before they were surrounded. The Sixth Army commander, Field Marshal Paulus asked for permission to withdraw behind the Don River to his west.
Hitler refused and it destroyed his Sixth Army to the last man.
The Germans at Stalingrad suffered more than a million KIA, WIA, MIA and another 250,000 POWs. This included other Axis forces: Italians, Romanians, and Hungarians.
The Germans lost almost a thousand planes, more than 500 tanks (many more were captured), and 6,000 heavy artillery pieces (not including more than 1,300 heavy mortars).
The Russians captured 1,666 tanks, 5,762 guns, 744 aircraft, 10,761 motorcycles — not including Italian, Romanian, and Hungarian losses.
These two battles — the Bulge and Stalingrad — were decisive engagements.
This morning, after a single day of public hearing by the Judiciary Committee, Speaker Pelosi directed committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, to draft Articles of Impeachment.
Two days ago, the Democrat Caucus had a meeting at which Speaker Pelosi posed a single question: “Are you ready?” The full throated roar was, “Yes!”
Indications are that the Judiciary Committee will not conduct any further meaningful hearings and will go immediately to drafting Articles of Impeachment. Indications are they will take a broad approach and draft a great number of charges.
Indications are that the House will vote on the Articles of Impeachment before the Christmas recess which would have the Senate bracing for a trial that would likely start in February 2020 — nine months from Election Day.
This will be a decisive engagement with all the attendant features of such an engagement — big win and big loss.
Why, Big Red Car?
The Dems have created an environment that will have the following features:
1. The numbers are moving against the Dems.
In particular, Independents — the folks who with your base determine the outcome of elections — are abandoning the lust for impeachment. This trend is quite pervasive.
[I think that Nancy Pelosi knows this and is hurrying the effort along before this trend becomes even more pronounced. I think Nancy Pelosi sees the certainty of a Trump re-election and this impeachment effort is a Battle of the Bulge last desperate gasp. This is the same Speaker Pelosi who said that impeachment required bi-partisan support and the support of the people — two concepts that are unattainable now.]
This is based on the partisan nature of the effort, the lack of substance of the charges, the perceived unfairness of the process, the speed of the process, and the over reach of the Dems.
2. Impeachment will solidify the Republican base. There will not be a single Republican vote for the House’s Articles of Impeachment. This has two impacts:
The Republicans will be as solid as a rock in both the House and the Senate. Their constituents will mirror this same sentiment.
The Dem effort will be nakedly partisan, but not every Dem will vote for the Articles of Impeachment, further strengthening the argument that this is just election nullification writ large. I predict there will be at least 10 Democrat defections.
3. This will have a negative impact on the economy. It is not likely to be huge, but it will be a downward tug.
Like all decisive engagements, this will end up with a huge win for someone and a huge defeat for the other side.
Right now, impeachment is polling at very unfavorable levels in the “battleground” states. In every battleground state, President Trump is leading every poll related to the election.
Impeachment will be the focus of the election and President Trump will be carrying the banner of a victory as he bludgeons the Dems.
So what, Big Red Car?
With the anticipated Senate election totals in hand — I predict that even Mitt Romney will vote against removal based on the unfairness of the process — President Trump’s defense team gets to call witnesses who will, essentially, put the Dems on trial. The Dems have revealed and will reveal their intellectual basis for impeachment in the Articles of Impeachment. There will be no surprises there.
Remember, it requires 20 Republican Senate votes to turn the trick and remove President Trump from office. “Unfairness” is a safe harbor for any Republican who is wavering.
But, President Trump gets to call witnesses whose testimony is currently unknown. If the Dems rely on the Mueller Report for their Articles of Impeachment, then President Trump will be able to open that can of worms and rummage about.
President Trump is cautioned not to engage in the same tactics as his opponents, but the notion that various linkages — talking to you, Adam Schiff, John Brennan, et al — will go unexplored is a pipe dream.
We will learn things that we cannot imagine right now. On the heels of this, the Senate vote will be along party lines with Joe Manchin joining the Republicans.
It is important to note that almost everything learned in the Intelligence Committee hearings will be inadmissible in a Senate trial as being hearsay.
We will look back on this in much the same way that we look back on the Battles of the Bulge and Stalingrad — as a decisive engagement that wrecked one party and delivered victory to the other.
I predict that the Republicans will regain control of the House.
One last historic note — the genius of General George Washington is that he never allowed his Colonial Army to become decisively engaged with the Brits. Even after Valley Forge whereat Baron von Steuben drilled the Continental Army to be able to give battle on the same terms as the British Square, Washington was judicious.
He offered battle, but never risked his army on a single battle. Students of military history note this with some surprise. Geo Washington avoided decisive engagements and, thereby, defeated the most powerful army in the world.
If you come to kill the king, make damn sure you kill the king.
But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car.
Point of order: In these times, it is easy to become drawn into the vitriol of the debate. I have tried to avoid that, presenting the subject without rancor, though with definitive opinions. I believe that what the Dems have done, what they are doing, what they are planning to do will be disastrous for their interests and the country. Time will prove whether my view is correct or not. I believe impeachment — particularly one in which there is no chance that the Senate will remove the President from office — is not in the interests of our country. I think it will hurt many people when the economy is negatively impacted. I believe the root cause of it all is the continued unwillingness and inability to accept the results of the 2016 election. I believe this impeachment effort began on Inauguration Day. I think this impeachment effort assures the re-election of President Trump and the retaking of the House.