Nevertheless, the New Jersey senator is now at least mostly woke to the reality of his political situation, which is not good. As the Associated Press reminds us, “Booker is one of five senators running for the Democratic nomination who face the prospect of spending the lead-up to the first-in-the-nation caucuses in the Senate chamber as jurors in President Donald Trump’s trial instead of barnstorming Iowa.” Unless he can make a big showing in the Hawkeye State (big if), his chances of snagging the Democratic nomination are toast.
Maybe Booker should have thought about this last October when he was bullish on launching the first impeachment inquiry against an incumbent. “I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution,” Booker told NPR. “I didn’t swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution unless there’s an election coming up.”
Just last week, he was on MSNBC’s “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” where he argued the need for witnesses in the upcoming Senate trial — a prospect that, if exercised, would keep him off the campaign trail for an even more protracted period.
The Democrats as a whole have been short-sighted in launching an impeachment query not only so close to a presidential election but with so little evidence to support the “crimes and misdemeanors” criterion. It is unclear whether they could make headway in their argument in the unlikely event the Senate did agree to hear witnesses. But one thing is clear: The dark cloud they envisioned over the head of Donald Trump running for re-election as an impeached president has failed to materialize. If anything, his support is stronger than ever. In the meantime, Booker and his four fellow senators who are seeking to supplant him are now running against the clock as well as the president.