Congressional Corner With David Hawkings | WAMC

Congressional Corner With David Hawkings

Jun 29, 2020

John Bolton has been telling his story, but not under oath.

In today’s Congressional Corner, David Hawkings of The Fulcrum continues his conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

Alan Chartock: David Hawkings is the Editor in Chief of The Fulcrum, a news outlet focusing on reversing dysfunction, that's a good one, in American government. He's also a former senior editor of CQ, and Roll Call. David, we're all looking at John Bolton's book and his reluctance to testify when it counted during impeachment. What do you make of it all?

David Hawkings: Well, I think he's obviously managed to make nobody happy, except his own accountant. Right. The Democrats think he is a he's a turncoat who did them absolutely no good when it counted. The Republicans think that he's a traitor to decades of loyal service to their cause. And yet, nobody disagrees that he take very, very good notes, and he's got an exacting writing style and it certainly reads authoritatively. And I think a little bit like, you know, the last time we talked, we talked a little bit about Bill Barr and the notion to impeach Bill Barr, and why the Democrats are going to move away from that I sort of think that the Bolton book, while a summertime phenomenon, I'm going to doubt that it's going to play much of a role in the fall in the Biden campaign this fall. I think, sure, maybe there might be an ad or two about it, but I don't think in some ways, what Bolton said was just reiterating, underscoring and putting some spit and polish and some color on to what we all knew, we've all sort of intuitively known if we're Trump critics or Trump skeptics all

Yeah, well, just let's play What If. What if he had testified? It really wouldn't have made that big a difference, the outcome would have been the same way, the Republicans in the Senate would have gone the same way. Right?

I think I think you might have gotten another vote or two. But you're right there was really never any doubt remembering that it would have taken what 19 Republican senators to join the Democrats to remove. And when we ended up with one on one of the two counts, Mitt Romney, maybe Susan Collins, maybe Lisa Murkowski. Maybe Lamar Alexander from Tennessee. But far, far from 19, no matter what had been said. I mean, I think really, no matter what, even back then in January, there was still this sort of loyalty oath amongst Senate Republicans that was pretty darn intense. Now, whether that lasts until passively or actively, I think it's gonna it's gonna soften between now and November.

Let's go to the Joe Biden veep stakes as we call them. Who's in the running? Who should do you think he should pick? Do VP picks matter and will they matter more this time?

They don't always matter. I think this one is pretty important for sort of the easy actuarial reasons, which is Joe Biden at 77 would be the oldest person ever to become president. He has hinted a little bit in some statements that he doesn't he doesn't envision himself as a two term president. So that would obviously mean that whoever he has as his vice president, whichever woman he chooses, and he has just to remind people, he has promised it would be a woman, would be the default frontrunner for the 2024 democratic nomination. And he's also an older man and vice presidents are always one heartbeat away. They're always nothing until they're everything as one of them, I think once said. So, yeah, this is an important one. It's also important in terms of unifying the Democratic Party. And of course, the big issue there is foes Biden feel an obligation or a strategic necessity to name a woman of color to the ticket as a way to galvanize energize black voters? Or does he feel that he doesn't need to do that? Or that he could galvanize them almost as much by picking a white woman and that that white woman would probably be Elizabeth Warren.

Who does he pick?

I think he picks either Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris, the Senator from California, or my third choice would have been up until a couple of weeks ago Keisha Lance Bottoms the mayor of Atlanta, but I think the Rayshard Brooks matter might have might have moved her back into fourth or fifth place. Third choice would probably be Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, a former sheriff in Orlando, who could probably by herself, propel Florida into the Democratic column.

Hmm. That's an interesting point. My bet would be Harris, except that she was so strident against Biden in the debates. Now, a lot of those things go by the boards. I mean, for example, we have all of the people that Trump called names that are now his best friends. Right. So Lyndon Johnson and Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy, I'm telling you now, not that I have to tell you anything, would never have been president if it weren't for Johnson bringing along Texas.

That's right. I mean, there are plenty of these of these sort of shotgun marriages. I mean, George Bush, the elder and Ronald Reagan didn't really have much nice to say about one another in that campaign. Of course, Kennedy and Johnson, the list goes on.

Yeah, Kennedy and Johnson those guys really did hate each other. So there you go.

And of course, we should remember that Biden himself. Many of us discounted. Joe Biden a dozen years ago because of Joe Biden has famously sort of racistly dismissive sounding clean and articulate comment about the guy he ended up being the Vice President for eight years.

So who does win in November?

Well, looking at the polls right now, you'd have to bet the Joe Biden would win. As you and I are talking now, there's a new there is a new wave of state of polls in the battleground states and Biden by eight different states that Trump carried the last time that Joe Biden is now ahead by right at the margin of error or comfortably outside the margin of error. North Carolina included, Arizona, the three upper Middle West battleground states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania. So things are looking pretty good for him at the moment. It's going to be of course, I mean, the oldest adage is in the book, it's going to be about motivating people to actually vote. It's going to be about the parties helping having it instead of get out the vote getting you know, getting people into vans and buses and getting them to the polling place on November 3. Both parties presumably are going to have significant operations to get absentee ballots into the right hands and get them filled out and get them returned. So at the moment you'd have to bet on the Democrat.

Can Trump's steal it? All the people who are listening to me on the radio and calling me up and yelling at me are saying come on Trump's gonna steal it.

Can he steal it? I don't think he can steal it. I think if he is out to win by nefarious means his best method is to discredit it, to make it seem so sullied that people don't trust the result. I don't I mean, can you steal it by preventing people from voting? I guess that's a form of stealing it, by underfunding, as I said the postal service so the ballots don't get returned, by declaring on election night that he won, even though millions and millions of votes in close states haven't been counted, and then contesting the results? Yes, can he try and strong arm legislatures in Republican states or places with Republican governors to favor the super close contest favor the slates of electors that are his, yes. I mean, there are there are many things. There are many ways that this could be could be contested for many weeks, I would say, knowing for sure who the country believes is the winner, I think we should look to thanksgiving for that not to the week of November 3, or even the following week, maybe Thanksgiving, maybe not till December, maybe not till January. You're a student of history, you know that the closest Electoral College outcome of all time, wasn't decided until the day before the inauguration of 1877.

Wow. David Hawkings is the editor in chief as well as being a great historian. He's editor in chief of the Fulcrum, a news outlet on reversing dysfunction in American government. He is also former senior editor of Congressional Quarterly, CQ, and Roll Call. David, if somebody wants to look it on Fulcrum, how do they do it?

Oh, thanks for asking. Thefulcrum.us is the website. And we'd love it if you go to the website and you like what you see to sign up for our daily newsletter. It's totally free. Of course we have a little donate button if you like it, but it is totally free.

David Hawkings always a pleasure. We'll come back one more time in our series with you and we'll talk some more.

Thank you, sir.