Over the coming weeks, one question will be paramount in the wake of the Democrats’ disastrous impeachment fail. Should President Trump wage a pitched and protracted battle in the upcoming Senate trial? Or will cooler heads–like Senator Lindsey Graham’s–prevail upon him to accept a perfunctory hearing or outright dismissal?
Fox News host Laura Ingraham posited a paraphrase of that question to Ken Starr before Christmas. She asked the former Clinton scandal independent prosecutor whether Trump should simply “declare victory” in light of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s passive-aggressive call to sit on the House articles like a distraught hen sits on an egg sucked dry by a barnyard viper. Starr opined that the president should move on, sparing the nation the continued sociopolitical angst and division this travesty has wrought.
Not so fast. Graham, fresh from a White House meeting, declared that the president was “mad as hell.” That may indicate that Trump will aggressively move to obtain the exoneration he believes he so richly deserves. But Graham has also said that he doesn’t want to give the Schiff/Nadler impeachment senatorial credibility that it does not deserve.
The 2019 impeachment saga remains extremely fluid. This piece could be rendered obsolete before it is ever published. But it seems we have a temporary status quo. Democrat impeachers have left the building, gone home to face the damage they’ve done to themselves. GOP point men like Rep. Matt Gaetz (for future president?) have done irreparable damage to the flimsy impeachment cause, relentlessly characterizing the debacle for the partisan and pseudo-constitutional circus it is.
Now it’s the Senate’s turn, and Majority Leader McConnell is waiting. But something happened on the way to the upper chamber. Pelosi is hanging fast to the last shred of her party’s denuded credibility. There’s no two ways about it—she has blinked. Another Fox host, Shannon Bream, asserted in late December that “both sides are dug in.” Really? No. The tide has turned. The Democrats are in retreat, and Donald Trump may be preparing to mount a major counteroffensive.
The Democrats have arrived at their Stalingrad.
But there is a profound difference between Pelosi’s forces and the German generals who launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union in the early summer of 1941. Unlike Adolf Hitler and his inner circle of military strategists, Democrats never really believed in the mission. It was always a sketchy desperation gambit and they are now looking to mitigate the price they must pay for pursuing it.
Under plans drawn by Hitler and his high command, Germany attacked the country with which it had only recently signed a non-aggression pact for two main reasons (among others): to militarily decapitate a potential threat, and secure lands for the growth of a thousand-year Reich (Lebensraum).
The Democrats plotted and launched impeachment with the goal of mortally wounding an adversary poised to vanquish their electoral prospects in the coming election, and placate an incensed and often unhinged party apparatus that has been bested in every way imaginable by the current Oval Office occupant.
Hitler’s armies swooped into Russia with lightning speed, blitzkrieging towns and villages, slaughtering civilians and combatants alike. Meeting valiant but disorganized resistance from Russian forces, the Germans penetrated deep into the Soviet Union. The Battle of Stalingrad, beginning in the summer of 1942, was the largest of World War II. The Germans first bombed and then attacked the city, resulting in significant Russian casualties. But after street-to-street fighting, fierce Russian defensive efforts caused the German offensive to stall.
The Democrats stormed into the impeachment process, blocking any chance for Trump or the Republicans to mount a substantive defense. From his basement bunker, Rep. Adam Schiff promised great things to his party operatives and rabid base, assuring though a series of lies that he had the evidence they needed to prevail. A Goebbels-like leftist media helped propagandize the proceedings, and a series of toothless non-material inquiry witnesses continued the rampant prevarication and smears.
Inside the very gates of the Russian city, the tide began to turn against the Fuhrer’s invading 6th Army and 4th Panzers. The Russians were entrenched, suffering casualties and deprivations, but no decisive defeats. All the while, the Soviet generals were biding their time, stoking the seething outrage growing in the Red Army and Russian citizenry over Germany’s brutal incursion. Similarly, the Schiff/Nadler impeachment filled Republican House defenders with determined resolve.
Though Hitler would not countenance retreat, German soldiers in the field (comparable to the Democrats’ “dirty thirty-one,” representatives in districts won by Trump in 2016) began to understand the reality of the situation. Diseases like dysentery swept the ranks. Supply lines from the Fatherland became strained, and then were cut. Winter set in. Wehrmacht soldiers died with ice-gripped fingers around their rifles. They cooked and ate rats.
The Democratic Party’s winter of discontent has now begun. They’ve punted into a headwind and are looking for some kind of fallback position. Like Hitler’s generals, they’ve realized the blunder of the mission.
Like the Russian generals plotting a mass counterattack in the winter of 1942, Trump may be planning his own counteroffensive and encirclement.
In February of 1943, the Stalingrad Germans surrendered. With the spring thaw across the Great Bear of the Russian interior, the Red Army’s Operation Uranus began. The Germans carried out a scorched-earth retreat which only inflamed the Russian appetite for vengeance and vindication. As any student of history knows, the Red Army and their allies, notwithstanding a few last-ditch Germanic delaying actions, kicked Hitler’s ass all the way back to Berlin and the Reichstag building.
There is no opportunity left for valor on the Democrat side of the aisle. They’re not dug in. They’ve moved to retreat, and even appeasement, as the House signature on Trump’s U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement shows.
But the sense in Washington is that President Trump may not be willing to accept a merciful end to the Democrats’ suffering. Whatever Pelosi does with the articles, however long she delays sending them over, her troops must know that the tide has turned. Waiting in the Senate is what they most fear: payback, exoneration, and ultimate victory for the man they so cynically tried to take down. They’re now trying to move the goalposts in a governmental body they have no control over.
Considered voices, like those of Ken Starr and Senator Graham, will call for a quick denouement when (and if) the articles of impeachment reach the Senate floor. They see a palliative wisdom in quickly dismissing this awful footnote in American history, and letting impeachment 2020 die a ground-out and ignominious death.
In the end, only one voice may matter. Trump punches back. He returns fire. And he deserves the chance to set the record straight. The Democrats are retreating from their Stalingrad. But a new year is upon us, and the balance of power has shifted.
Mark Ellis is the author of A Death on the Horizon, a novel of political upheaval and cultural intrigue. He came aboard at PJ Media in 2015. His literary hangout is Liberty Island. Follow Mark on Twitter.