Well before Tuesday’s bombshell legal news when President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen revealed that then-candidate Trump directed him to break campaign finance laws, I considered November’s election the “Mother of All Midterms.”
This moniker resulted from the observation that elevated levels of passion and energy among midterm voters are more akin to those preceding a presidential election.
Reinforcing my observation, last month former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon framed the intense vibe of the midterm electorate, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “I think this is President Trump's first reelect."
Meanwhile, on Tuesday night after it was clear that Cohen’s ground-shaking accusations have the potential to place President Trump in legal jeopardy as a co-conspirator, Bannon stated to Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs, "Today clarifies that November is a referendum on impeachment — an up or down vote.” Adding, “Every Trump supporter needs to get with the program."
Now I have revised my moniker to read, “Impeachment is the Father of the Mother of All Midterms.” No longer are the midterms just about Trump’s presidential performance — “his first reelect” — but Bannon, an astute strategist credited with engineering Trump’s come-from-behind presidential victory, has blatantly and honestly repositioned the midterms as a “referendum on impeachment.” This is new territory for Republicans. Or is it?
One could make the case that Bannon’s statement openly operationalizes a pro-active Republican anti-impeachment strategy already in progress. A strategy that the New York Times reported back in May with the headline: “Republicans Seize on Impeachment for Edge in 2018 Midterms.”
This “edge,” supposedly motivates the GOP base to turn out and stop Democrats from gaining control of Congress — assuming that victorious Trump-hating Democrats would immediately begin impeachment proceedings.
Conversely, the official midterm election impeachment strategy of Democratic leaders in Washington instructs candidates to avoid using and discussing the I-word on the trail and in the media. Quite a juxtaposition of the two parties!
The Democrats’ “keep quiet” game plan was revealed at length by Politico the day after Michael Cohen’s guilty plea in federal court directly implicated President Trump, setting off impeachment alarms throughout the capital city.
Moreover, if Democrats win the House and begin impeachment proceedings, there is a school of thought that strategically, impeachment could play to the Republicans’ advantage by helping Trump win reelection in 2020. This very “Trumpian” thinking appeared on August 16 in Politico with the headlines:
'If they take the House, he wins big': Trump loyalists see upside in impeachment.
Why some Trump allies think his path to reelection runs through an effort to kick him out of the Oval Office.
Yikes! What some Republicans (and many Americans in general) might consider warped political strategy, Trump loyalists see as a reelection “trump card” to be played.
However, I can personally attest that Politico’s August 16 report is not a new revelation.
Back in mid-April, I was on set of Showtime’s political documentary show aptly named, “The Circus.” After the filming, I reported that veteran GOP strategist and longtime Trump supporter Roger Stone said that he “believed President Trump would run for reelection, even if impeachment proceedings were ongoing, and that Trump would turn impeachment into a campaign advantage.”
But, due to “breaking news” about the Stormy Daniels saga, Stone’s “Circus” segment did not air on the show.
How ironic! After learning that Trump directing Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels weeks before the November 2016 election could end up as an impeachable offense, Stone’s reelection “impeachment advantage” theory might actually be put to the test.
That begs the question for Trump and Republicans: “Impeachment: Good news - bad news, who can tell the difference?”
Surely impeachment would mean sustained high television ratings. And, with high ratings in mind, here is an intriguing quote from President Trump’s “fake news” nemesis CNN:
“To Trump, good ratings mean success. It's that simple. If people are watching you, you are winning. It's a uniquely reality TV way of thinking.”
Undoubtedly, Trump fighting impeachment would be the epitome of entertainment for the reality show president. But in that show, “winning” would be solely determined in the mind of the viewer.
Finally, get ready for a new enthralling season of Trump-TV. It begins the evening of November 6 when it is revealed whether or not impeachment is the real “Father” of the “Mother of All Midterms.” Of course, the resolution of that story line impacts the opening act of the “Mother of All Presidential Elections” as it is being birthed that same evening.
Keep watching because only the unpredictable is predictable.