Corey Lewandowski Just Made the Democrats Look Utterly Bloodless
The former Trump campaign aide’s hearing was a political test, and the House Democrats failed it
Corey Lewandowski doesn’t give a damn, and Democrats apparently don’t either.
The former Trump campaign aide’s outrageous contempt before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday was a sign of the profound weakness of the congressional Democrats, a warning about the critical flaws in their continued practice of pre-Trump politics, and a caution flag on the people pushing impeachment as the tentpole strategy of the Congressional Democrats for 2020.
The hearing was a political test, and the House Democrats failed it. They’re shudderingly terrible at this work; they lack the bloodthirsty instincts of political killers. Trump and the House GOP are playing nuclear hardball, and the House Democrats were playing the old normie politics of the days before social media, reality television, and the Insane Clown President.
Centrally, Lewandowski continued to hide behind a phony privilege claim even after it was clearly established the claim was invalid, and Democrats seemed content to let him. His eye-rolling, snippy responses, and insults received nothing more than sour looks. Without consequences, people like Corey will always win, and in the nastiest way possible.
After the grind of the last two years, how do Democrats not yet understand this process? Lord knows they’ve done it enough times now to figure it out; members of their caucus ask anodyne, dull questions of hostile Administration witnesses.
The GOP always plays directly to the Fox News cameras. Trump’s enablers spend every one of these hearings building a TV drama for their team with their imaginary Deep State boogeymen, but-her-emails conspiracy-mongering, and reality-TV table-flipping antics. Democrats, on the other hand, ponderously tried and failed to get Lewandowski to read from the Mueller report and asked questions without the slightest prosecutorial edge. Chairman Jerry Nadler let Republican members grandstand, interrupt, and stall without more than a few grumpy words.
How is it that Democrats don’t understand that’s why Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, et al. tear their hair out, spit, and caper on the stage? It’s because the Republicans understand these hearings are a reality show. Democrats are trying to win a point of parliamentary privilege; Trump’s minions are trying for the tribal immunity idol, or a rose from the bachelor.
They’re not bound by law or norms. Lewandowski’s behavior today proved, once again, that Republicans are full participants in the Trump reality show. His audience-of-one performance was for the President and the President’s political agitprop network, not to meet his obligations under oath to testify before Congress.
It wasn’t simply that the creepy Lewandowski spent four hours slapping the committee with lies, insults, and smarmy evasions. The real issue is that Lewandowski doesn’t fear Congress. Not even a little. Hell, Lewandowski even announced his Senate campaign in the middle of it all.
That was why they fumbled and flailed over his insult and contempt. Watching it, I kept wondering how much malfeasance they needed to act. How much obstruction and evasion would be enough to make them take action?
I kept wondering, “How is it you guys can just let this go? How is it you can just take this overt contempt and lying?” He has no privilege or immunity from testifying. He was always a private citizen. The White House letter ordering his omerta isn’t worth a damn.
And yet, there it was, for hours on end. First, taking the contempt, abuse, and lying showed how weak the Democrats were. More importantly, the egos of the Democratic committee members came before an effective investigatory function; they should have used professional legal staffers who know what they’re doing to hammer Lewandowski. Instead, it was the usual herd of cats.
It’s not about Corey. It’s about the total inability of the House majority to get down to nut-cutting. It’s about the only line of defense in a threatened democracy being manned by a group of people who don’t understand that until you cause Trump’s minions actual pain, with penalties and consequences, they will act with impunity. They know the rules of the show, and Democrats don’t.
Team Trump won the day because Democrats failed to provide a comparable show.
Taking Lewandowski’s abuse and contempt and grinding through an endless series of dull questions is pathetic television, and Americans are conditioned to respond only to exciting television.
It’s hard to see how House Democrats could carry out some deus ex machina impeachment miracle when they can’t even handle a low-grade thug like Lewandowski.
That’s why the Democrats should have adopted the “Sergeant at Arms, take that man into custody” strategy. Power is held by those who use it; it’s always a depreciating asset. A surly, arrogant Lewandowski taken into custody over the contempt and deception shown to a co-equal branch of government would be great entertainment and the kind of shock politics the Democrats need to break through.
By the way, I don’t care about the lack of recent precedent or the legality of “Sergeant at arms, take that man into custody.” I care about the drama and the visual.
By letting him escape the consequences of contempt, the House Democrats send the clear signal that ANYONE from the WH can slap them, spit on the floor, and effectively say, “Fuck you.”
This is where the whole “IMPEACH!” crowd falls down. It’s hard to see how House Democrats could carry out some deus ex machina impeachment miracle when they can’t even handle a low-grade thug like Lewandowski.
Democrats need to up their game, and fast. The audience is watching.