The Outlines Of 2020

By

Leonard Zwelling

Meet The Press on Sunday March 31 was indicative of how the lines between the Democrats and Republicans will be drawn in 2020.

There were three main issues discussed by Chuck Todd and his panelists and guests—the Mueller Report, health care, and the generational differences in character and behavior among the candidates for president—particularly, the behavior of Joe Biden.

The Mueller Report is being sold as an exoneration of President Trump by the GOP. It’s not. Even Mueller himself said the investigation did not exonerate Mr. Trump of conspiring with the Russians to alter the results of the 2016 election and certainly did not exonerate the president on charges of obstruction of justice. First, no one but Mr. Mueller’s team and Attorney General Barr’s team has seen the report. Thus, no one really knows what the 300 or so pages actually say. Second, there are surely nuances among the evidence because Mr. Trump is on record as having fired James Comey over the Russia investigation, so there must be some doubt as to whether or not he meant to obstruct justice. And, if as has been reported, Mr. Mueller never directly interviewed Mr. Trump, who could possibly know what Trump’s intent was when he said and did what he said and did. It is likely that people will be debating the Mueller Report for years and no consensus is likely to ever be reached because the waters on obstruction of justice are so muddied and so many of those involved have different opinions about what constitutes obstruction.

As this blog has been saying for weeks now, it is far more likely that Mr. Trump violated campaign finance laws or cheated on his taxes than that he conspired with Vladimir Putin. After all, a new book documents how Trump cheats at golf. Why would he not act the same way when it comes to money. All Trump probably cared about in Russia was the Moscow Trump Tower and that never got built.

As for health care, the reason the Republicans are tied up in knots on this one is obvious. First, they opposed ObamaCare BECAUSE it was Obama care. If the plan had been called what it really was, a GOP plan to preserve the private health insurance market as derived by the Heritage Foundation in 1989, we could stop the arguing and find a bipartisan path to making it work better. Instead we have the GOP opposing it with no alternative in sight and the Democrats proposing Medicare For All with no plan how to migrate to such a system or how to pay for it. This is likely to be a central tenet of the 2020 election with candidates scrambling to discern which solution will appeal to the most voters, not which one will really fix the broken health care system in the U.S. To do the latter would require a complete overhaul of a system with millions of people’s jobs at stake and trillions of dollars in the kitty. No one really is anxious to go there. But no worries, President Trump has a great plan but you have to elect him again to see it.

As for Joe Biden, he is beginning to learn the price of being old.

Joe is old school, blue collar, kiss the girls Creepy Uncle Joe when we are in the post-#MeToo era. His way is no longer the way and his behavior surrounding Anita Hill is sure to haunt his campaign once he finally declares that he’s in. Even though he appears to have the best chance to beat Mr. Trump if a one-on-one could take place tomorrow, I believe that is based on his name recognition only and that he will turn off the millennials who he will desperately need to come out for him if he is to win the White House.

The Democrats have a problem. They have a bunch of candidates who are old (Biden, Sanders and Warren), a bunch who are young (O’ Rourke, Gillebrand, Harris, Booker), some in the middle (Klobuchar and Hickenlooper) and some on the left (most of the young ones). None of them has caught fire yet and it is most unclear if any ever will. We won’t know until the voting starts in Iowa.

In the meantime, as was very clear on Meet The Press, journalists are trying to keep things interesting and having a lot of trouble doing so when what Americans really care about is the economy, jobs, immigration and, yes, affordable health care. The reason it is not interesting is that no one has answers to the questions. If the Democrats can find a candidate who can articulate a vision for the future that includes meaningful health care reform, uncorrupted politicians, a humane immigration policy, and acknowledgement that if you wouldn’t kiss a man’s cheek, don’t kiss a woman’s, they might have a winner. If not, get ready for four more years of Agent Orange.

Leonard Zwelling