In the middle of a muddle, there's minimal sense in predicting outcomes.
In other words, is the president's former national security advisor speeding the president toward removal from office? (I strongly doubt whether John Bolton's version of President Donald Trump's Ukrainian diplomacy -- so to call it-- will slow down the necessary process of Senate acquittal on vastly overblown impeachment charges. But what does some hack journalist understand? Beyond the reality of how much trouble even a president can get in by talking before thinking?)
A more vital matter practically shrieks at us as we ponder how much Trump did or didn't do, said or didn't say, in furtherance of a Ukrainian checkup on the Bidens -- "pere et fils."
Is this likely to determine how the November election turns out? Isn't that what all this impeachment-Ukraine business is about, from start to finish?
The likes of Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler would show the world an American president unworthy of continuance in high office. Trump's gift for providing them the necessary weaponry probably matters less than their own incapacity for talking the nation -- thus far -- into replacing Trump with one of their own.
"The party's voters," says The New York Times -- which ought to know, being an unregistered agency of the Democratic party -- "are splintered across generational, racial and ideological lines, prompting some liberals to express reluctance about rallying behind a moderate presidential nominee, and those closer to the political middle to voice unease with a progressive standard-bearer."
In other words, the party at large doesn't know what it wants -- a bad signal to send just when Republicans seem mostly certain of wanting to stay on their present course -- notwithstanding presidential manners, abusive tweeting or doubts as to what the Ukraine knew or cared about the Bidens.
Democrats, over the past three years, haven't defined their Republican adversaries in terms of wicked policies -- contrasted, naturally, with virtuous Democratic intentions -- so much as they've heaved boulders at Trump, who, for them, is the political equivalent of Lord Sauron, terror of the hobbits and elves.
The Democrats don't know whom they want for white knight. Sen. Bernie Sanders, America's leading socialist, leads the pack in Iowa. Just behind is -- Pete Buttigieg? The Lord Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and comparative moderate? He's polling at 18%. There follows a second comparative moderate, for all his attempts at cozying up with the left. That would be Joe Biden, polling at 17%. But then there's Elizabeth Warren, a Sanders collaborator just below Biden, with 15%. And what it all means, respecting the identity of the Democrats, no one can be sure. Save that defeating Sauron/Trump is, for the Iowa Democratic electorate, the principle criterion in their candidate choice. Who could best do that is the conundrum.
A still bigger conundrum for Democrats is: Then what happens? Assuming the defeat of Trump is a rather major assumption, given the latest Times/Siena poll shows Trump favored in Iowa -- to defeat the whole Democratic field.
Trump-a-phobia, to coin a psychological term, is the unitive factor in Democratic politics. Grrrrrrr: who will rid us of this unsightly and talkative bum?!
Democrats have, it would seem, given Trump the gift that keeps on giving: defining the party that hates him. "Never Trumpers" are commonly said to be die-hard establishment Republicans of the Bill Kristol stamp. They're not. They're Schiff/The New York Times/The Washington Post Democrats, out to do Trump in for ... for ... for the sake of doing him in. Which is, of course, their lowercase-"d" democratic privilege, free speech not yet abolished by the loathsome Trumpians.
I mean, yes, they can do in whomever they like, but I wouldn't call it a good idea to let your party be defined as a grand lodge, a fellowship for haters. Whom do you love? And why? Aren't those the truly big questions for those who would lead a whole people? I can't say definitively, being more a lover than a hater -- if mainly a hack, semipuzzled journalist.
William Murchison is writing a book on moral reconstruction in the 21st century. His latest book is "The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson."