There are few professions where it’s more important to be able to talk out of both sides of your mouth than politics.
It can be the difference between being a somebody or a wannabe.
Thirteenth District Democratic congressional candidate Betsy Londrigan aspires to be somebody. She almost made it in Illinois’ 2018 Democratic wave, falling 2,100 votes short of defeating incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis.
Londrigan is running again against Davis in 2020. But winning requires her to walk a tightrope — she can’t be forthright about whether she favors impeaching President Donald Trump.
In that disingenuous spirit, here’s her full response to the question of whether she supports or opposes impeachment of President Trump.
“Our Constitution creates checks and balances for a reason. The Mueller report made clear that foreign actors maliciously attacked our democratic process, and Congress is — as it should be — performing its oversight duties. This administration should be fully and enthusiastically cooperating with Congress in order to prevent another assault on our national security. Americans deserve answers and I support the efforts in the House to get those answers.”
“This is a serious issue to be addressed, but as I travel around the 13th Congressional district, people are talking to me about what’s hurting them right now in their daily lives. They’re worried because the cost of their prescription drugs have skyrocketed, because we have a trade war wreaking havoc on Central Illinois, and because Social Security and Medicare are threatened with massive cuts. I will remain focused on finding solutions to help my neighbors.”
There is no answer in that morass to the question, and a request for clarification drew no response
Londrigan’s collection of words was emailed last week after the N-G inquired about impeachment following announcements by Democratic U.S. Reps. Bill Foster and Raja Krishnamoorthi that they back impeachment. Eleven of Illinois’ 13 Democratic U.S. House members now favor impeachment.
While pro-impeachment Democrats are voluble on the subject of why Trump should be impeached, Londrigan is voluble in avoiding it. She expressed concern in her statement about Russian interference in the 2016 election. But that’s a misdirection play because Russian involvement is not the issue. The alleged grounds for impeachment would concern any “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government regarding the election.
In another misdirection play, Londrigan cited special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. But she somehow failed to mention Mueller’s key finding that he found no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Londrigan did say she supports Congress’ effort to investigate. But investigate what? By design, she did not say.
Having not addressed the impeachment question — one she wants to ignore — Londrigan raised issues she intends to emphasize — “skyrocketing” prescription drug costs and “massive cuts” in Medicare and Social Security. (By the way, just who is proposing “massive cuts” in Medicare and/or Social Security?)
Here’s why Londrigan is trying to have it both ways.
Hillary Clinton received 55 percent of the statewide vote in Illinois in 2016, But Trump received 49.7 percent of the vote in the 13th district. This issue isn’t going away.
“House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is teeing up a post-recess showdown with President Trump as the New York Democrat pushes for impeachment behind the scenes,” reported The Hill, an online publication, over the weekend.
Because Democrats won a solid House majority in 2018, they dramatically outnumber Davis and his fellow Republicans. Impeachment ought to be a cakewalk.
But there’s another set of numbers in play, millions of Trump supporters living in competitive congressional districts across the country.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recommended Democrats rid themselves of Trump by winning the presidency, the Senate and keeping the House in 2020. She has expressed concern impeachment will backfire on Democrats, just as impeaching former President Clinton did on Republicans in 1998.
Londrigan knows she can’t antagonize Trump supporters by embracing impeachment. She also knows she can’t afford to alienate anti-Trumpers by publicly opposing it. That’s why asking Londrigan if she is pro- or anti-impeachment invites the kind of non-answers for which the political class is well-known.
Londrigan, of course, isn’t doing anything any other politician — Republican or Democrat — wouldn’t do. After all, the goal is to win by any means necessary.
But if she’s going to treat voters as saps, the voters are entitled to know how poorly Londrigan thinks of them.
Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 217-351-5369.