Saturday, July 13, 2019

Who Would Have Ever Imagined That Nancy Pelosi Would Go Down In History As One Of The Worst Speakers Ever-- If She Resigned Tomorrow It Would Not Be Soon Enough


According to strange #NeverTrump Republican Andrew Sullivan, in his New York Magazine column Friday, many voters who are not Democrats may have "voted for the Democrats last fall because we wanted a serious check on President Trump’s intensifying authoritarianism. That includes many of us who don’t support the far left’s takeover of the Democrats, but who saw the urgency of an opposition with teeth, confronted as we are by a deranged, tyrannical bully in the White House. What would happen if the Mueller Report emerged with a Republican House still intact, we worried? How could we begin to investigate Trump’s tax returns, or his cronies’ corruption, or his foul pedophile friends, or his murky real estate money-laundering, if Paul Ryan, the Randian eunuch from Wisconsin, were still in charge?"

And speaking of eunuchs... who even needed Paul Ryan! With Trump sniping at Pelosi's progressive "enemies"-- especially AOC, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib-- there almost seems to be an unspoken alliance between the fake president and lame-duck, increasinbgly detested speaker. And #NeverTrump Republicans like Sullivan are noticing: "It turns out, six months later, that on all these topics, the Democratic House majority didn’t matter much at all. Whenever a serious administration abuse of power seems to demand investigation, Speaker Pelosi springs almost instantly into inaction. There is nothing she won’t not do."


When, for example, a highly dubious decision years ago by Labor Secretary Alex Acosta-- to give Jeffrey Epstein an incredibly lenient plea deal for the sexual abuse of 40 underage girls-- blew back into the headlines, Pelosi instantly ruled out any notion of impeaching Acosta: “It’s up to the president, it’s his Cabinet. We have a great deal of work to do here for the good of the American people and we have to focus on that.”

Really, Madam Speaker, oversight of shady dealings by Cabinet officials is the work of the president now? And holding a corrupt administration to account is not “work … for the good of the American people”? This “distraction” from real “work” meme is, in fact, a Republican talking point. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise described the oversight process this week as “presidential harassment rather than focusing on the priorities of the American people.” Trump himself tweeted a demand that Democrats “go back to work!” How practically different is that spin from Pelosi’s? (Even though the question is largely moot now that Acosta has resigned, it came as a relief to see Elijah Cummings was pledging to investigate him.)

The most epic moment of Pelosi’s oversight abdication was, of course, her response to the Mueller Report. She was completely out-foxed by Bill Barr’s shameless misdirection at first, and once his sleight of hand became obvious, she seemed to have no strategy to hold Trump to account in any way. She was presented with striking evidence that President Trump repeatedly abused the power of his office to obstruct justice-- the charge that brought down Nixon, and one charge that forced even Bill Clinton into a Senate trial-- and was all but invited by Mueller to move the ball forward through impeachment: “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” Pelosi immediately, reflexively, punted.

Later this month, we will finally get testimony from Mueller. This week, the House Judiciary Committee has issued 12 new subpoenas for Trump officials, including Jared Kushner. This time, they tell us, they’re serious. These subpoenas come after almost all previous ones were rebuffed entirely by an unprecedented blanket assertion by the president that all oversight inquiries are of a partisan nature and should therefore be ignored. But last month the Democrats passed a resolution seeking court enforcement of their subpoena power. How long will this process take? Who knows? Many seem to think the process could go on for years-- probably likely to take longer than the rest of Trump’s term-- thereby nullifying any practical oversight at all, and giving all future presidents a precedent of immunity by stonewalling. What we do know is that six months into this Congress, we know nothing more from their efforts than we did in January. Could you speed this up if these subpoenas were part of an impeachment inquiry? Almost certainly yes. But Pelosi appears to be in no hurry at all.

Or take the issue of Trump’s tax returns. Judd Legum is aghast that it took the Democrats four months even to ask for them! When Trump (surprise!) refused to hand them over, Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal filed a lawsuit arguing that the reason he was doing so was not because he wanted to see if Trump had committed fraud or other financial crimes, but that he needed “to decide if legislative action is needed” on “the mandatory presidential audit program.” He believed the claim should be as modest as possible to help guarantee an eventual court victory. But “eventual” is the operative word here.

The goods are there though. So when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing Trump’s state tax returns to be examined directly by Neal, Neal refused, even though the data would be largely the same as the federal returns. He preferred to wait for the result of his own federal legal case-- which could be months or years in coming! And so the clock ticks on. It will likely tick past the next presidential election. This is the fierce urgency of whenever. It is an effective abandonment of a critical tool for exposing presidential corruption.

Maybe Pelosi could hold hearings and then merely vote on a measure of censure of the president? But no: that’s not on the table either. “I think censure is just a way out,” Pelosi said last month. “In other words, if the goods are there, you must impeach.” But the goods are there. We waited months on a thorough investigation, and it found multiple cases of obstruction of justice, a supremely impeachable offense for Congress to pursue. Isn’t she, rather than censure, Trump’s “way out”?

What would she use her oversight powers for? She has argued, for example, that the attorney general openly “lied under oath” to the Congress, her branch of government, a criminal offense. So what will she do? Impeach? Censure? Wait for it: She won’t be “speaking to anything more that he has to say.” Bill Barr must be trembling in fear. What did she do when Trump crossed a clear Constitutional red line and, via a fake national emergency, funneled money to his wall against Congress’s express wish? Yes, you guessed it: nothing. Not even censure. She’s a Speaker who will jettison even the power of the purse rather than take on a tyrannical president.

For good measure, she told Maureen Dowd that Trump “every day practically self-impeaches by obstructing justice and ignoring the subpoenas.” A word to Madam Speaker: People cannot actually impeach themselves. And if you read the Constitution, it’s your job. Why are you persistently refusing to do it?

I know that aggressive oversight, especially impeachment hearings, is a politically fraught decision, full of risk. I know the polls suggest it splits the country and, by her own expert counting, divides the House Democrats as well. I know her party won the House in 2018 by focusing on health care, rather than Trump. I think that should be their focus next year as well. But fortune favors the brave. If she doesn’t act against a serious threat to the Constitution, voters will infer that the Democrats don’t actually believe there’s a threat. If she lets this president own the narrative, as he keeps doing, Democrats will end up following his story rather than their own.

And there is no essential conflict between holding impeachment hearings and making the case for your policies. It should be possible for a competent and gifted Speaker to do both. But Pelosi, alas, is not exactly gifted in persuasively making a case for anything outside her hyperliberal constituency. And she’s deeply unpopular across the country. She has a worse favorable/unfavorable rating than Trump-- and during the partial shutdown in January, she had the lowest ratings of any politician in the country. But if she can’t deploy rhetoric or popularity, at least she could use her Constitutional prerogative.

Her strengths lie in her considerable skills for legislative cat-herding and winning news cycles in the mainstream liberal media. Because she is the first female Speaker, she is largely untouchable in the nonconservative press. I love Maureen Dowd, but her most recent column was beyond fawning. The only substantive achievement Dowd could point to in her glowing account of Pelosi’s political talents was that Pelosi had “gotten into Trump’s head” and that she “has offered a master class, with flair and fire, on how a woman can spar with Trump.” Seriously? Yes, she can provide some cutting retorts. But, substantively, a master class in capitulation strikes me as more accurate.

And isn’t it more plausible to say that Trump has gotten into Pelosi’s head? Here’s an example of what Dowd calls her “flair and fire”: “Oh, [Trump would] rather not be impeached… But he sees a silver lining. And he wants to then say, ‘The Democrats impeached me but the Senate’-- he won’t say Republicans-- ‘exonerated me.’” So fucking what? Of course he’d say that. Why are you allowing his future spin to affect your present Constitutional duty? You’re in a defensive crouch, Madam Speaker. Against a bully, that never works.

The best gloss I can think of to explain Pelosi’s abdication is that she believes that it’s only a matter of time before Trump loses in 2020, so why risk alienating moderates who get nervous with the I-word now? Why impeach when the Senate will acquit? Why go to war now, when it might imperil electoral victory next year?

Here’s why. There is a strong possibility that Trump is going to win the next election. I know it’s early but the head-to-head polling against most of the Democratic candidates is very close-- and that’s before the GOP has gotten to work on oppo research on those Democrats who aren’t well known. Incumbency in a strong economy is usually dispositive. The Dems have almost all decided to run further to the left than even Hillary’s woke-a-thon in 2016: free health care for illegal aliens, abolishing private health insurance, publicly funding abortions, declaring America in 2019 a product of white supremacy, etc. Their strategy seems designed to alienate every white person in the Midwest and give Trump another victory in the Electoral College. Only Biden has a serious polling advantage, and he’s looking frail and weak.

If Pelosi keeps playing it safe and Trump is reelected, it will set a precedent that a president can obstruct justice and be rewarded for it. He can avoid all serious congressional oversight and get away with it. The Congress will continue its journey as a withered limb in a Constitution that actually gives it pride of place, Article 1. And every time Trump gets away with another crime, or abuse of power, he is emboldened. Vindicated by re-election? God help us.

And what Trump now knows after six months of Democratic control of the House is that he is as free from congressional checks whether it is run by Democrats or Republicans. Pelosi has shown every future president that they can obstruct justice with impunity, refuse every subpoena with impunity, lie with impunity, and violate the separation of powers with impunity.

At some point, Madam Speaker, history may show you had one critical chance to stop this slide toward populist authoritarianism. And you decided you had better things to do.
Goal ThermometerMeanwhile, Pelosi has accomplished nothing-- not even raising the minimum wage increase she promised to do immediately after the Democrats won the House back. Oh, wait-- she hasn't accomplished nothing; I was wrong. She got Trump's concentration camps funded. And she passed PayGo, to make sure no big progressive ideas would pass. She is utterly worthless and destroying the Democratic Party, having launched an anti-progressive jihad, threatening members of her conference who were about to endorse Bernie with retribution, directing the DCCC to prevent progressive candidates from an even playing field and going war against 4 progressive women of color, AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Omar Ilhan and Ayanna Pressley. What's the thermometer for? So you can contribute to the campaign of the progressive Democrat running to replace Pelosi in her San Francisco congressional district, Shahid Buttar.

This morning, Buttar noted that "As disturbing as it might be for Democratic Party activists to recognize, Speaker Pelosi is either entirely ineffective in mounting resistance to our criminal president and his corrupt administration, or instead unfortunately co-opted. Both of those possibilities are unacceptable. There is too much at stake-- especially with the twin cataclysms of fascism and climate catastrophe already unfolding-- to defer to the continuing failures of a careerist inclined towards accommodation. With a would-be tyrant in the White House, now is a time for full-throated resistance for real. The American people deserve leaders willing to oppose kleptocracy instead of enabling it. And we deserve representatives who will meet the needs of the future by expanding human rights, instead of doubling down on the predictable failures of corporate rule and eroding them even further."

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At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, DWT. You just presented every one of my indictments of Pelosi in a single piece, albeit still underselling her awfulness.

"Pelosi has shown every future president that they can obstruct justice with impunity, refuse every subpoena with impunity, lie with impunity, and violate the separation of powers with impunity."

Shorten that to: "Pelosi (like the DOJ) has normalized the meme that the president (and vice president 2006-2009) is above the law. Seems like I've mentioned these before.

"Her strengths lie in her considerable skills for legislative cat-herding and winning news cycles in the mainstream liberal media."

horse fucking shit! she has 2 strengths: 1) her prodigious whoring; 2) her ability to skate among the dumbest fucking electorate in the history of earth.

her "cat herding" is accomplished via spreading of her graft. And she doesn't win media cycles... she is aided by the media who have refused to tell the truth about her for over 20 years. Being the first distaff speaker might have something to do with it... but mostly it's the corporate media who are paid by corporate advertisers who regularly put Pelosi on her back.

Not just the worst speaker. she's the worst congresswhore in history. Because of tyrannical power in the house (both arrogated by her and her money AND aBrogated by the other democrap members), she is able to enable and empower dictatorial powers in the executive branch.

Of course, having the lefty voters devolve into intellectual primordial slime was a prerequisite.

She's lucky she exists in this shithole in this time. Any other place or previous time and voters would have recognized how worthless, feckless, corrupt and cowardly she is and would have summarily sacked her... 20 years ago.

Now... talk about the next 200 in her succession... nothing better.

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

she became the worst speaker in history in 2006 when she refused to do her job and impeach cheney.

So someone tell me again why we were so eager to give the gavel back to her in 2018?

maybe we really are that stupid.

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pelosi's approvals actually went up during the partial government shutdown. I believe her highest polling was in late January and early February. You would think the lesson would be, "OK, most people don't like or trust this president -- we will act as a check against him. It's not just the right thing to do -- it's the smart political move." Instead these people have reverted back to the world of 2007.

The ground is shifting under all of our feet -- especially with climate change and its impacts. For those of us a little closer to the ground, I think we at least sense it. However, these people in the leadership, are so out of touch, and oblivious, and so invested in business as usually, that all they can do is punch left and down, instead of right and up. They have no answer to the challenge presented by a bankrupt, Trumpified, ethno-nationalist GOP.

I don't know how things will shake out in 2020, but it's clear that any real kind of progress will require fundamental change within the Democratic party -- especially in the upper ranks. I'm glad though that there are blogs like this one, which help to articulate the nature of the challenge.

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We have a great deal of work to do here for the good of the American people and we have to focus on that.”

There is but one way that this statement of Pelosi's isn't a lie. That would be to define "people" as those with a net worth above a certain amount large enough to ensure that some worker's house value doesn't accidentally include him or her. Only then does her vile behavior functioning as tRump's fluffer make any sense.

Saving my pennies for her primary challenger. (Yes, I know that is an exercise in futility since Big Money runs the nation outside the rule of law.)

At 4:28 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Go Shahid defeat Big Money & put Pelosi into retirement in 2020

At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pelosi retires or gets beat in 2020? hoyer steps in and is worse. If not hoyer, Clyburn. if not him, there are 190 more right behind them who are all just as bad.

Shahid wins? nothing changes. still democraps. still corrupt worthless feckless cowards. lather, rinse, repeat.


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