Back in the 1980s and 1990s, New York mob boss John Gotti earned the nickname the "Teflon Don." Despite numerous attempts to nail him, criminal charges never managed to stick. Years of investigations and attempts to convict Gotti for a litany of organized crime activities mostly ended in failure. Witnesses were intimidated and tampered with, and no matter how hard or how often federal prosecutors tried, they couldn't convict the Teflon Don.
J. Bruce Mouw, the FBI agent who led the special unit that ultimately helped convict Gotti, told the New York Times in 2002 that the mob boss "was the first media Don." As opposed to "the first media Donald."
Donald J. Trump is "The Teflon President." No matter how much legal trouble he's gotten himself into over the years, nothing ever seems to stick. So far, he's been equally as elusive as Gotti. And while the president is not a mobster, he does talk and behave like one.
As acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker would have us believe, the Mueller Investigation is coming to its thrilling conclusion, and a report is being finalized. Once released to the public (or quietly delivered to the attorney general), the president may or may not be vindicated. If he remains in office, there exists a distinct possibility that Trump's teflon armor will continue to deflect any legal muck being slung at him. Should that be the case, Trump may have a better-than-average shot at being re-elected.
Meanwhile, Democrats have a potential feeding frenzy on their hands, somewhat akin to the one experienced by the GOP in 2016. The race is already on for the fluctuating 25-30 plus candidates who have either officially declared or are contemplating a run for their party's nomination. Not one has yet to demonstrate they have broad party appeal. Unlike their Republican counterparts, who tend to be reliably conservative - be that fiscally, socially, or a combination of the two - Democrats have a wide array of political ideologies and often appear unable to reach consensus.
Though they'd managed to stay united during the recent government shutdown, Democrats as a rule tend to eat their own - young and old. And the field of hopefuls certainly runs that gamut, with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden at the upper end of the spectrum and Hawaii's Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend among those at the opposite.
Let's not forget the plethora of liberals, a bevy of moderates, men and women of color, and more than a few eminently-qualified senators, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar. The individual strengths of these candidates could, however, be a collective weakness for their party, hindering the odds that any one of them might appeal to the electorate as a whole.
Further complicating matters is a potential independent run by former Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, a billionaire who plans on self-funding his campaign should he choose to enter the race. That possibility has already met with disdain among some liberal voters. At a recent event to promote his new book, Schultz was heckled by one who shouted, "Don't help elect Trump!"
Though it may sound heretical, Democrats who are truly concerned with the direction the country is heading might want to consider an alternate strategy for next year's presidential election. Forget the White House. Instead, focus on securing the House seats recently won, add to that number, and concentrate time, effort, and treasure on taking control of the Senate. Not with the intent of making impeachment a reality, but to finally have a fully-functional - as opposed to the currently dysfunctional - legislative branch that will provide the checks, balances and oversight our founding fathers had originally intended.
In the end, the feds did manage to scrape away Teflon Don's non-stick coating and secure a conviction on charges that included murder, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and racketeering. He was sentenced to life in the Big House.
For Democrats hoping to cleanse away Teflon Donald's stranglehold on the White House, a grassroots effort to wrest control of both Houses of Congress in 2020 could be the S.O.S. pad they need to do the trick.
Copyright 2018 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Blair Bess is an award-winning journalist and columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]