Impeachment, Debate Night, What Is at Stake
Editor’s Note: This piece was written Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Yesterday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced a resolution of impeachment against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The impeachment resolution was co-sponsored by 18 members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust. He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled,” Chaffetz said. “Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress.”
I agree. It is unconscionable that no one has been held accountable for the gross abuses that took place at the IRS during the Tea Party targeting scandal. Since the Justice Department is refusing to take action, the House of Representatives must act.
The third Republican presidential debate airs tonight on CNBC. The economy and economic policy will dominate tonight’s discussion.
Like the previous two debates, this one will be divided between the candidates based on their rankings in the polls. The “happy hour” debate — featuring Senator Lindsey Graham, Governor Bobby Jindal, former Governor George Pataki and former Senator Rick Santorum — begins at 6:00 pm ET. The prime time debate begins at 8:00 pm ET.
What Is At Stake
There is a clear division even among the candidates in tonight’s prime-time debate. Here’s a quick analysis of what is at stake for each of the “top tier” candidates.
JEB BUSH — This is a key debate for Governor Bush. Between a major restructuring of his campaign and a poorly phrased comment widely interpreted as a slap at the political process and frustrated voters, Governor Bush needs to regain his footing and reassure nervous supporters. Having said that, it would be a huge mistake to count him out.
He has the finances to stay in the race for the long-haul. Insiders envision a scenario where Trump collapses, the lower tier candidates drop out, and the race comes down to Carson, Cruz, and Bush. The Bush camp believes that Jeb prevails in such a contest, and it is not farfetched. Cruz and Carson would divide the conservative grassroots vote, enabling the establishment candidate to capture the winner-take-all primaries.
BEN CARSON — Dr. Carson can make the case that he is the front runner now. Tonight the new GOP leader will likely be pressed for more specifics and substance, and he will need to deliver.
There is some irony in that he has made his biggest moves in the midst of several controversies that many pundits thought would destroy him. Carson expressed hesitation about supporting a Muslim for president given what we know about radical Islamists. He suggested that he would try to organize a counterattack against a shooter if he was ever in a mass shooting situation.
Carson said it would have been more difficult for Hitler to carry out the mass extermination of Jews if they had been armed. And he compared abortion to slavery, arguing, as I have, that both required depriving human rights from entire classes of people — black Americans and unborn children. After each controversy, Carson’s donations increased, as have his poll numbers.
TED CRUZ — Many conservative leaders believe that Senator Cruz is the most reliable conservative with a significant record of public service in Texas and in the U.S. Senate. Even liberals admire his intelligence, and he is unafraid of the D.C. establishment. Nevertheless, he is struggling to break into double digits.
On the other hand, it is widely acknowledged that Cruz has built the best campaign network. Without much notice, he and allied super PACs are raising serious money, enabling him to stay in for the long haul.
Yet, there are worries about whether he is winsome enough to win the general election. The debates are an opportunity for him to not only demonstrate his intellect, but show a sense of humor and connect with those who may be skeptical.
CARLY FIORINA — Can Carly recapture the momentum with another strong debate performance? She knocked it out of the park last time, got a good bump in the polls but then faded fast. It’s not clear whether she can recover again, and lightening rarely strikes twice.
MARCO RUBIO — Serious people in Washington and at the grass roots compare Rubio’s rhetoric, style and narrative to Ronald Reagan. That is a tremendous advantage for him. Many of the large donors who thought Jeb Bush was the easy choice are now giving Rubio a second look. There are rumors that Sheldon Adelson, who has a record of making major investments in candidates who support our alliance with Israel, is leaning toward Rubio.
Rubio’s biggest impediment is that his first foray into Washington was joining a bi-partisan group of senators on an immigration reform bill that to many looked like a quasi-amnesty. Rubio also goes into the debate tonight in the middle of an unfortunate controversy.
He has missed a lot of Senate votes, which is not unusual for a member of Congress running for president. In trying to defend himself, he said that many of his missed votes are on issues of little significance, while more important issues often don’t go anywhere due to liberal filibusters or Obama’s veto.
Of course, the media mob immediately pounced, suggesting that Rubio wasn’t interested in doing his job and that he felt serving in the Senate was insignificant. But as Rubio explained to CNN, “I’m not missing votes because I’m on vacation. I’m running for president so that the votes they take in the Senate are actually meaningful again.”
Back in Florida, newspapers are now calling on Rubio to resign. (Of course, the liberal media gave Barack Obama a pass for repeatedly demonstrating his disrespect for Congress by abusing his executive authority.)
Even though the focus of tonight’s debate will be economic issues, Rubio may have a chance to correct an impression he surely did not intend to create and to highlight the unique pro-family aspects of his tax reform proposals.
DONALD TRUMP — Until this week, Trump had led the polls for 100 days. He is now second in Iowa, and one poll shows him trailing Dr. Carson nationally. Critics suggest that having lost his lead, Trump will be petulant and snarly, looking to tear Carson down.
He did not display that kind of behavior in Iowa last night. He encouraged his supporters to work harder, joked with them and urged them to make the best of this opportunity to upset the establishment and elect an outsider.
Tonight’s focus on economics could be an advantage for Trump, but the moderators may try to trip him up with complex questions about fiscal policy, something he seems to be anticipating.