So what are we going to call it, Ukrainegate? Whatever it is called, I can’t help but wonder if anyone has noticed how idiotically premature and disastrous for Donald Trump his latest scandal is. After all, why on earth would Trump go to all this trouble to try to manufacture a scandal about someone who quite possibly may not be his opponent in 2020? With or without Ukrainegate, the political stratosphere was already evolving and, in some polls, Elizabeth Warren, not Joe Biden, is shaping up to be the likeliest Democratic nominee in 2020.
Whoever wins the nomination, Trump has already tipped his hand about the kind of campaign he intends to pursue. It is, if nothing else, a foreshadowing of how corruptly maladroit that campaign is going to be. He clearly hasn’t learned that the “but, her emails” approach isn’t going to cut it this time. It is to his discredit and to our good fortune that he and his pirate ship of cartoon villains don’t know this already – and clearly aren’t smart enough to figure it out.
Like Sharpiegate, Ukrainegate is a crumbling imbroglio made worse by an administration that doesn’t know how to take “shut up” for an answer. Instead of trying to change the subject they are doubling down. Trump has two men with half the combined charm and personality of Richard Nixon – Rudy Giuliani and Steve Mnuchin – acting as spokesmen for the cause to investigate Biden and his son Hunter. That there is no “there” there is the least of it. Every time they bring up Hunter and Joe as talking points they find themselves having to answer that other self-incriminating talking point: why did the president of the United States attempt to extort a phony criminal investigation of Joe Biden and his son from the president of the Ukraine? In the logic of Schrodinger’s Cat, Giuliani says simultaneously that Trump both did and didn’t do any such thing. Mnuchin, on the other hand, just folds his arms and, looking every bit the man who enjoys eating babies for dessert, insists that Biden and his son need investigating.
Of course, all this embarrassing talking point business could be cleared up in a heartbeat for Trump and his gang by their simply releasing the whistleblower report to Congress. Then they could get on with the spurious business of “investigating” Joe Biden. Naturally, Steve Mnuchin, a man who never stood on a principle without first making sure that his weight would kill it, insists that such an action would “set a dangerous precedent,” and we certainly wouldn’t want to unduly besmirch the dignity of the office of the presidency, let alone miss an opportunity to take a moral lesson on propriety from Steve Mnuchin, now would we?
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.