Speaker Pelosi the Ball is in Your Court

And a critical development happened this afternoon. With the filing before the courts by the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York effectively took the first step towards an Impeachment Enquiry. This is a critical step, and the dancing is effectively over.

I am old enough to remember why Democrats took the House in 2006. It was about the Iraq war and taking the country to war on lies. By 2006 we all knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Some of us had done our homework and suspected as much since almost to a one, the sites mentioned were the ones that the United Nations had inspected…repeatedly. Most of us who raised questions, of course, were ignored. And in fact, the authorization to go to war was done on a fantasy.

Under international law, the Iraq war could be seen as an aggressive war, the first indictment under the Nuremberg standard. In other words, it could be understood as a war crime. Ergo, many Americans wanted the George W Bush administration to be held accountable for this. The only way to do it, short of the International Court of Justice (which the United States does not recognize) is an impeachment of the president, his latter indictment in the Senate, and removal from office. Then, and only then, could the president and his officers face the music for this.

I am old enough to remember that once the Democrats took over the House, they elected representative Nancy Pelosi from California as the first female Speaker of the House. It was historic, and the day she took the gavel from John Boehner, there was hope. Maybe, finally, there would be accountability. I also remember the day she told the country that impeachment was off the table. It happens to be that many in the Democratic leadership voted for the war, including her. So I suppose holding Bush accountable meant holding themselves accountable.

Two years later the country not only voted for the first African American president but also increased the majority of the House and gave Democrats a supermajority in the Senate for all of ten minutes. The day Barack Obama won hope filled the nation. And Democrats squandered all that by playing the kinds of games that ensured that the progressive agenda they promised…would never really happen.

In 2010, to nobody’s surprise, the Republicans retook the House in a wave election, that came with the force of a Tea Party tornado. Or I should be a little more specific. There were people who were surprised, and it was mostly the same party leadership that is about to make the same exact mistake.

In 2018 Democrats retook the House. Their mandate was simple, bring accountability to Donald J Trump, who continues to violate every rule that polite political society follows. He may be compromised by Russia as well, a question the Mueller report did not fully answer, and for which hearings are essential. What the report makes clear is that the president was not exonerated.

Robert Mueller III stated that they did not look for indictment since they were hemmed in by the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that makes an indictment of the president near impossible. That this opinion makes the presidency akin to royalty and above the law is a point that people are starting to discover. Yet, this truly depends on what political glasses you wear. For Republicans this is fine. For Democrats, this should be changed. And both would invert if the president was from the other party.

So what is Pelosi doing? She is slow-walking this and hoping to be saved by the polls. If there is one thing she does not want is to actually pull the impeachment trigger. She will raise money out of bad behavior. Her party will talk a good game, but there is no way she will pull that trigger. Why? The Bill Clinton impeachment. Oh never mind that Republicans won the White House two years later. Yes, I know, the Speaker at the time, Republican Newt Gingrich, lost his job soon after. The forces that led to that are partly what led to the rise of the Tea Party, and an intra-party civil war that ended in the rise of Trump to the presidency.

Pelosi is afraid of her own shadow, but I also suspect she would not like the precedent impeachment would set. Holding accountable a member of the American elite is not something she looks forward to doing. This is why she held off with Bush as well. As much as Trump ran as an outsider, he is a member of that same social class that Pelosi forms part off. They are both members of the ruling elite of the country.

I can hear you know, but this is a false equivalency! Many Democratic partisans will make this very point. Why? They refuse to see how much their own leadership is part of a social class that will protect their interests before those of the country. Yes, voters wanted accountability in 2006, and in 2018. If they do not see this happening, they may stay home in 2020. Speaker Pelosi is playing with fire, and she is unaware of why or how.

Yes, some of the newly elected representatives want to pull that trigger NOW. They do not have the baggage of memory. They also are closer to voters than many in leadership. They know their voters are angry at what is happening in Washington. They also are not YET part of that upper crust of American politics and economic system. Their interests are far more closely aligned to those of their working-class constituents.

However, this is not a national trend. Many of the newly electeds, which is part of Pelosi’s calculation, come from purple districts that could swing back to Republican in 2020 if they perceive their congressman going too far left, whatever that means.

This is one of the calculations Pelosi is making. She knows that a lot of those blue dogs lost their districts in 2010. Which brings me back to the wrong lessons that she has learned over the years. She believes that this happened because they went too far left in 2008 with the Affordable Care Act, and yes, I also remember the anger from the Tea Party at local town halls. This is why many centrist Democrats refuse to endorse Medicare for All. If the ACA was too far left, that is downright communism, and anyway, how the hell are you going to pay for it? (There are ways to pay for it, and some involve changing the spending priorities of the country.)

Oh never mind that polling that removes party affiliation finds this proposal to be extremely popular even in red districts, but I digress. The strategy that the speaker and her leadership team are following is destructive to the core. It shows that Democrats are not ready to fight and that they are afraid of their own shadows. Voters are tired of this. One party will not listen, and the other is destructive to the core. What is a voter to do in this circumstance? Well, stay home of course. And this time around, I suspect it will not be in 2022, but in 2020. They already told Congress, get your act together and hold this guy accountable. The only way at present is by starting an Impeachment Enquiry and not waiting for the courts. If this was the role of the courts, Mueller’s team would have looked into it. They were hemmed in and followed the OLC guidance.

So at this point, the strategy, as much as one can be divined, is to use anything to delay and hope the election solves the Trump problem. It could very well backfire, as voters are getting tired of this. The only winners are the forces of destruction that intend to destroy democracy. Yes, Vladimir Putin is one of those winners. Four more years of Trump will be a disaster for the nation. And at this point, I wonder if this is the goal of at least some Democrats. Incidentally, if they are worried about democracy and their role in history, well then, that train is at best leaving the station.

I hope to be proven wrong. Because so far Democrats remind me of the political acumen of the Social Democrats and the rise of Adolph Hitler. They are making the same exact mistakes, in defense of their class interests. And let's make this clear. There are economic classes in the United States. Both party leaderships are not representing the middle or working class of the nation. Just look at who donates to whom, and their bank accounts. Open Secrets is quite instructive in this respect.

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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