As equity holders know, a harrowing “triple witching hour” occurs when three security types end on one day. Volatility can follow. This week, American politics will see a first-ever “triple witching hour,” as three events collide – the 2020 Iowa Caucuses on Monday, President Trump’s “State of the Union” on Tuesday, and the Impeachment acquittal vote on Wednesday. In short, hold onto your hat.
As if the coincidence of these three ground-shaking events was not reason enough to pause and ponder, the three are each wild. The Iowa caucuses, when Iowans point the way for presidential hopefuls, is this year wide open. The State of the Union, which insiders say will avoid impeachment, offers a powerful forum for Trump’s eye-popping economy, foreign policy, trade, and judicial appointment victories. The impeachment vote … well, what can you say? That long drama will close with a thud.
On the Iowa caucuses, things get stranger and stranger. With largely unpopular, individually questionable, internally quarreling Democratic candidates, life is edgy. With no obvious leader, three candidates – Senators Sanders, Warren, and Klobuchar – remain in Washington. So do also-ran Senators Booker and Harris. Accusations continue to dog Biden and son about possible sweetheart deals reached while the elder Biden was Obama’s VP.
Now, adding insult to injury comes a new revelation. According to Politico, “the stunning, last-minute cancellation of the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll and … hour-long CNN special deprived the political class of the 11th-hour marker” in the close race. An Iowa leader termed it “absolutely shocking,” while Politico mused that “the entire run-up to the caucuses has been almost dumbfoundingly strange.”
The entire Democratic party seems in a slow-motion meltdown, with defunct candidates tweeting profanities (Beto O’Rourke), Hillary Clinton – the party’s scorched former standard-bearer – “lobbing criticism at Sanders,” Warren hammering Sanders with broadsides about sexism, insiders doubting Biden, Gabbard suing Clinton for defamation, and now Michael Bloomberg sallying up for his swig of popularity.
The likeliest outcome of these Iowa caucuses, conducted on the eve of a rousing State of the Union and deflating pre-spun impeachment acquittal, is nothing. Iowa will only underscore how divided, rancorous, and flat-footed the entire Democratic party is – in responding to Trump’s powerful message of economic growth, lower taxes, less regulation, trade fairness, national and border security, traditionalism and the triumph of American exceptionalism.
The second big event hits Tuesday, with the State of the Union. Rumors are that this one, like the two previous speeches, will be a barn burner, putting Democrats in Trump-friendly states – and across the country – on defense.
In the run-up, President Trump has relit hopes of a Middle East peace, pushed China for a “phase two” trade deal, cranked pressure higher on Iran to stop seeking nuclear weapons, hinted at a deal with post-Brexit Britain, and can point out the end of ISIS, end of mass inflows of illegal aliens, and a raft of economic data.
Any sense that Trump will be on defense, after a “no new witnesses” vote in the Senate impeachment debacle last week, is gone. Like a ship at full sail in a gale, his biggest challenge will be not running too hard – sails full stiff wind.
Not since Ronald Reagan delivered his 1984 State of the Union, has there been so much good news – and so little basis to recommend an opposing view. As Democrats respond, early bets are on the channel, getting turned by more than half the country.
Then comes what now looks to be a weak epilogue, even if Democrats want to make it the epicenter of the week, an impeachment vote – all but certain to acquit the president, possibly pulling a few Democrats along for the ride. Far from “forever” tagging the president, the process wrap-up looks to tag this crop of Democrats as “forever unfair.”
No serious historian will see this impeachment as anything but blindly partisan, punctuated by intentional misinterpretation, petty insinuation, and bereft of basic due process – exactly the opposite of what Constitutional Framers wanted. Rather than necessary, unifying and good for the country – Democrat claims – it will be viewed as ignoble, disingenuous and ignominious, that is, a rotten crock.
And so, the only remaining question is this: What will follow the remarkable “triple witching hour” in American politics? For many Americans, the answer is simple, rest, relaxation, and a sense of relief.
As Democrats struggle to understand what hit them in Iowa, White House leaders take stock of gains, and impeachment managers begin their self-adulating books, most Americans will get back to work … which is all they really want in the first place, and what this president has delivered in spades. Until the next “triple witching hour,” that’s my read from the cheap seats.