Was this a remark by a CNN commentator, or a floor speech by Sen. John Avlon (D-NY)? You'd be forgiven for being confused. On CNN's New Day this morning, "senior political commentator" Avlon engaged in some hysterical hyperbole. He implied that the "republic" would literally be lost if Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted against allowing witnesses in the impeachment trial.
They were counting Republicans who'd vote for witnesses: Romney and Collins look like Yes, Murkowski is murky, so their spotlight turned to Alexander. Avlon was responding to a question from co-host John Berman as to whether he saw anyone other than Alexander who could provide a fourth Republican vote for witnesses. Avlon:
"No. And so I think a lot is going to be determined by Lamar Alexander. Sort of, you know, will the headline be, Lamar Alexander saves the republic, or saves the Republican party?"
Relax, John: we're pretty sure that even if Alexander votes against witnesses, the good old republic will manage to survive.
Here's the transcript.
6:05 am ET
LAUREN FOX [CNN reporter]: All eyes are on Lamar Alexander.
. . .
JOHN BERMAN: Yeah, but beyond that, it’s hard to come up with one Republican senator [in addition to Romney, Murkowski, and Collins] who looks like he or she might be considering hearing witnesses, John Avlon. I listened very closely to each and every question that was asked. We talked about Rob Portman. Rob Portman was on a lot of the questions that were these softball lobs to the president’s defenders here. Questions like, why is the president’s case so great? I’m not being literal there. But they were basically along those lines. So it’s pretty clear where Rob Portman is going there. Did you see any other wiggle room for anyone beyond Alexander?
JOHN AVLON: No. And so I think a lot is going to be determined by Lamar Alexander. Sort of, you know, will the headline be, Lamar Alexander saves the republic, or saves the Republican Party?
And then he added: "And that's not necessarily an overstatement. The longstanding conservative argument is a republic, not an empire."