Pelosi should never have caved on impeachment - GulfToday

Pelosi should never have caved on impeachment

Pelosi should never have caved on impeachment

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference after the impeachment of President Donald Trump ended in acquittal at the Capitol in Washington. Associated Press

John T Bennett, The Independent

Who said comity and bipartisanship in Washington were dead, what was left of both vaporised in the politically nuclear mushroom cloud of the 45th president’s impeachment and acquittal?

They were wrong, we learned in the 21 hours after Senate Republicans cleared Donald Trump on counts of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.

That’s right: Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell finally agree with Nancy Pelosi on something. And something of great import – not just for the country’s political system, but also for a sharply divided nation and its perception around the globe as a teetering superpower at risk of devolving into a political banana republic armed with the world’s most powerful economy and military but besieged by economic, class, racial divisions that could be stacked as high as its Rocky Mountains.

For five months, since Pelosi told the country she saw few other options after the world learned of Trump’s request that Ukraine’s new president “do us a favour though” by investigating Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden immediately after the two discussed a $391m military aid package, Trump and McConnell have been in lock step.

Pelosi, however, has been criticised by both and other Republicans for deciding to move forward with an impeachment inquiry that had practically zero chances of ending with the president’s conviction and removal in a Senate with 53 Republican members.

In fact, even top Senate Democratic leaders repeatedly said during the five-month drama they knew it would be impossible at worst and an “uphill fight” at best to get the 67 votes needed in the upper chamber to convict and remove Trump on just one charge, much less both.  

During her weekly press conferences, Pelosi had to field questions about whether she really believed further stoking America’s tribal divisions, of further dividing “Red America” and “Blue America” – read: rural America and urban America – was truly worth it because the ink on the last page of the Washington-based real-life theatre performance essentially had dried before a single letter had been written on page one.

For five months, and in the day since, she has defended her decision.

At her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, the speaker described the president as a threat to the country. She accused him of being “sedated” during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, speculating – without evidence, in a Trumpian move – that he was in the same alleged state last year for the big speech.

Pelosi also described the president as unhinged and unfit for office, saying this: “Next year, we will have a new president of the United States. That is an absolute imperative for our country, for our Constitution. ... It’s appalling the things that he says.”

While McConnell was more measured about her during his post-acquittal press conference on Wednesday evening, Trump did not hold back a day later during an East Room acquittal celebration during which he also apologised to his family for having to endure the inquiry and trial.

“They are vicious and mean, vicious. These people are vicious,” he said of his Democratic accusers. “Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person. And she wanted to impeach a long time ago. When she said, ‘I pray for the president, I pray for the president,’ She doesn’t pray. She may pray, but she prays for the opposite.”

The packed room full of his political allies, conservative supporters, White House aides and personal attorneys all laughed. The moment perfectly captured the country’s toxic politics and counterproductive tribal divisions.

“But I doubt she prays at all,” Trump continued in a personal swipe that must have gone directly to Pelosi’s core. She recently snapped at a reporter’s question about whether she feels “hate” for the president, saying her Catholic faith teaches her to hate no one.

Yet, beneath all the weaponising of words, investigations, threats and speech destroying that were the five months of the Trump impeachment era, one cannot forget Pelosi’s own advice about impeachment inquires.

“I’m not for impeachment,” the speaker told the Washington Post in mid-March. “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”

Then, in a move she appeared to intend to hit Trump even harder than the spectre of actual impeachment, she added: “And he’s just not worth it.”

She says his July 25th phone call with Ukraine’s president changed that. McConnell and Trump say she was right all along – and there’s ample evidence both men are spot on, that she was spot on for three years as the left wing of her caucus called for impeachment after every Trump tweet and rally insult.

“We all fully remember, and it’s been said numerous times, the speaker said roughly a year ago, you shouldn’t go forward with an impeachment that was not bipartisan,” McConnell said on Wednesday evening.

“I watched her very carefully over the years. Our leadership positions have overlapped, and even before then, we were working together on appropriations bills back in the early days,” he told reporters. “I’m pretty sure she didn’t want to do this.”

To the veteran senator, as he watched from across the Capitol, he saw the pragmatic speaker who is regarded as an expert tactician being “pulled into this direction against what appeared to be her political instincts.”

Trump noticed, too, just accurately enough quoting her on Thursday as he took his victory lap that she didn’t think Democrats “should go down that path because it divides the country.” In a largely unnoticed moment, Trump said the Democratic politician who unnerves him like none other had a point.

In fact, he said this: “She was right about that.” Pelosi makes few blunders as the leader of her caucus. If she’s not liked, she’s respected – or feared. But there is mounting evidence that McConnell and Trump are correct.

There is her own settling for the twin moral victories that Trump will be “impeached forever” and that some GOP senators admitted during the trial “that he did something wrong.”

Then there is the polling data. Trump’s approval rating has never been higher. During the five months from House inquiry start to the final acquittal vote of the trial, the president closed enough ground on each of the top Democratic presidential candidates in surveys of national and battleground state one-on-one races that just about every one is now a toss-up.

Coupled with those trends and lower-than-expected Democratic turnout in Iowa – a sign of low enthusiasm among the opposition party’s voters – Trump can now use the impeachment affair as another way to fire up his base in the six or seven battleground states that will matter most to turn out in big numbers.

Related articles