Dem senator: Let's face it, obsessing about Russia has become a distraction that's hurting our party

A rare bit of common ground between ardent Trumpers and hardcore liberal Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Somewhere Sean Hannity’s watching this clip, wondering how to work it into his next monologue about the “deep state.”

I think Murphy’s right, and the deeper into the weeds the Russiagate investigation gets in terms of what Trump said to whom or which Chinese loans the Kushner family has to repay, the righter he’ll be. The counterargument here is that the left is restive and out for political blood and the Russia investigation is the surest way to keep them sated. The more corrupt Trump appears via the daily leaks, the more tainted the 2016 campaign comes to look due to outside interference, the more frantic liberals will be to turn out next fall and wreck the Republican majority in Congress. Thanks to Rod Rosenstein, though, Democrats don’t need to zero in on Russiagate; there’s a team of investigators at the DOJ and a team of loose-lipped White House aides who’ll keep the Russia probe in the news for them over the next 16 months to keep the hardcore partisans motivated, assuming they can be any more motivated than they already are. Dems should be aiming for the downscale voters who carried Trump to victory; kitchen-table issues like job growth and health care are a way better bet with them than whether Bob Mueller (who?) will or won’t be issuing subpoenas next week.

Besides, the more Democrats try to turn the midterms into a referendum on impeachment, the greater the risk it’ll backfire. Go back to my theory in this post that the Scalise shooting helped put Karen Handel over the top last night. If the election is a referendum on health care, the GOP is in desperate trouble. If instead it’s a referendum on whether we should elect a Democratic House to humiliate the president by impeaching him over Russian hacking or obstruction of justice, the right may adopt a siege mentality that pushes turnout up. “Trump is not normal” is a message the left has hit endlessly over the past five months and which the media will continue to amplify for them through 2020. Anyone who’s open to being persuaded that that’s reason enough to vote Democratic will be persuaded organically, by watching what Trump does, without Chuck Schumer reminding them occasionally that “Russia is bad, mmmkay.”