Speaker Pelosi has forgotten more about politics than most people will ever know. She’s right to think that impeachment is tricky. It’s unpopular now BUT, like everything else in this mercurial era, that’s subject to change. Public opinion is fluid, not static except for the hardcore rump of Trumpers, which is around 25% of the electorate. Speaker Pelosi is a political genius but even geniuses can be wrong. She *is* wrong about impeachment. It is not just a legal imperative, it is a political one. I think inaction will be more politically damaging in the long run than defending the rule of law against a lawless and illegitimate administration.

Yesterday’s statement by the ultimate G-Man, Robert Mueller, confirmed that the vast majority of the country, let alone members of Congress, have not, and will not, read the report. Despite attempts to make it user friendly, it’s long and detailed and chock full of legal phrases baffling to lay people. That’s not a criticism, it’s a fact. Most people need to see the teevee show, not read a 448 page book. Mueller’s statement was more in the nature of a preview of coming attractions, not the main event.

Mueller said yesterday that he would only testify publicly about the contents of the report itself. That’s fine. Repeat after me: most people have not and will never read the full report. Mueller doesn’t want to testify. Life is full of chores we’d rather not do: I could live without changing the cat box but I do it. I fear the wrath of Della Street and Paul Drake. Who wouldn’t?

If his appearance cannot be negotiated, Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff need to subpoena the  Special Counsel. Unlike the Insult Comedian’s lawless minions, he will comply. It’s time for Bobby Three Sticks to eat his veggies. He can have dessert later.

I disagree with those who say that political considerations should play no role in the impeachment decision. It is an inherently political process. Those calculations increasingly argue FOR, not against, impeachment. Yes, I know, the Senate will not convict as of this writing and the majority is threatening to go straight to a vote and not hold a trial. BUT Democrats are losing the messaging war to Republicans and, worse, look weak. Nancy Smash is not weak but perception is everything in politics. She cannot afford to look weak in these perilous times for our democracy. The president* is terrified of impeachment, when he’s scared, he makes mistakes.

The ground is shifting. The mere fact of Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash’s advocacy of impeachment has made House Democrats look feckless and I give a feck about that. Amash has made cogent arguments in favor of impeachment, which has made the Speaker’s temporizing look weak. He’s obviously read the full report, which is why he came out for impeachment; much like his political antonym, Elizabeth Warren. Repeat after me: most people have not and will never read the full report. They need the teevee show.

At the risk of being repetitive, Nancy Pelosi is not weak but perception is everything in politics. I agree that there are risks involved but life is full of risks and impeachment is the only option we have to establish that the Current Occupant is NOT above the law. If he’s impeached and acquitted by the Senate, he’ll brag about it but he’ll have the scarlet letter I seared on his orange forehead. If he’s not impeached, he’ll brag about winning a showdown with Speaker Pelosi. He’s going to brag either way but in one scenario, Democrats look weak,  in the other they’ve stood up for the rule of law.

Perilous times require courage from our leaders. We don’t elect them to do the easy things, we elect them to do the right thing. Trump cannot be allowed to get away with his crimes without facing the music. Nothing scares him more than the possibility of live, televised hearings into his brazen misconduct. Hence the massive resistance to all requests from Congress. If a formal impeachment inquiry is opened, the House will have more legal power to make the Trump regime comply. All it takes is courage. The future of the Republic not only requires courage, it demands it.


5 thoughts on “Courage

  1. At the risk of sounding cynical, Pelosi also has significant power in how impeachment moves along. I could easily see taking a deliberate pace, culminating in an impeachment vote on the eve of the election after an extended round of hearings and testimony. A nice reminder that Trump is a crook. At that point, who cares that McConnell goes full on asshole again? Trump either loses in 2020 or it’s game over for American democracy anyway.

    So, just adding to my .0002 cents worth below, they could/should continue to emphasize how serious the allegations are, investigate thoroughly, and add to Mueller’s own reports of obstruction. More important, control the narrative. Letting Trump tweet and with a pathetic news media that reports every tweet uncritically is…how we got here in the first place.

    1. You have an excellent point as to timing. They just need to call it what it is. Impeachment 1974 would have been voted on fairly close to the midterms.

  2. Also, remember that Congress isn’t in session this week. So Pelosi has kind of a free run this week in terms of getting the Democratic message out. It’s tough for Democratic operatives; we think that because we usually “get it” after one or two iterations, everyone else does, too. No, they don’t. We need to get over our reticence or whatever it is, and keep repeating the message. Say it in the morning, say it at lunchtime, say it in the afternoon and again in the evening. Get people used to the idea of a crooked, corrupt president who is a danger to the country and needs to be removed.

    Mueller isn’t the only one who needs to eat his vegetables. The Democratic caucus needs to be getting the message out consistently and repeatedly.

  3. #ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion: The biggest 2020 political risk associated with impeachment is not that more Trump supporters will turn out if he’s impeached. They were ALREADY gonna turn out, and there’s no hidden pool of them that will sprout out of the woodwork if Pelosi brings the gavel down. No, the biggest political risk regarding impeachment is that Dems DON’T impeach and then the base sits home and pouts like it did in 2010 and 2014 when Obama didn’t give them unicorns.

    #ConfessYourOtherUnpopularOpinion: I have two things to say to people who think Pelosi is playing the long game. 1) We don’t have time for that now; the house is on fire. 2) Democrats suck at the long game, so maybe they shouldn’t even try to play it until they’ve learned how. (There’s no shortage of teachers, but nobody in Congress or running for president seems particularly good at it, although several show some potential.) Maybe, with more than 100 bills already passed and DOA in the Senate, the House should just focus — and talk and message about, as Gratuitous suggested — This. One. Thing. Because while the “experts” like to say you have to run FOR something, and while that generally has been true in the past, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z, who outnumbered their older peers as a percentage of the 2018 electorate, are clear that this election will be a referendum on Trump and that’s all.

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