Musing about law, books, and politics

Pelosi, Impeachment, and why the Nixon analogies probably don’t work.

  • 💠I am in favor of opening impeachment hearings.
  • 💠I believe Nancy Pelosi is handling matters correctly.

Here is how both of the above can be true at the same time.

Let’s begin with Pelosi’s own words as she speaks to Kimmel.

Forget the headlines. They often pull phrases out of context to get clicks. Ignore the Tweets.

The meat starts at the 1.30 minute mark. Listen to what she actually says.

I’ll list Pelosi’s main points, as I understand them.

Kimmel pointed out that Mueller handed the matter to Congress, and he wants to know if Congress is taking up the task. 

Pelosi says, “We’ve been on that path for a while, and when we do get to where we’re going, we are going to be ready.”(Notice how she defines “the path” as “impeachment.”)

Kimmel says: “It feels like we’ve been on the path for a really long time.”

Pelosi points out that the Dems didn’t have a House majority until this year, and the first month, government was shut down.

Pelosi says: “We have a defiance of the Constitution of the United States. So when we go down this path, we have to be ready and it has to be clear to the American people, and we have to hope that it will be clear to the Republicans in the US Senate.”

“We are on a path to gain information,” she says. “The public deserves to know the truth. The facts.”

She emphasizes that because impeachment is potentially divisive, it’s important to be ready.  (For a reminder of the possible dangers of impeachment, click here.)

“We [the House Democrats] understand our oath of office to support and defend our constitution of the United States.”

[Remember: Nobody knows for sure what will happen after impeachment hearings begin. Take absolute statements like: “if we impeach, X will happen” or “if we don’t, Y will happen” with skepticism.]

 “I probably have a better idea of what the president has to be held accountable for than anyone else,” Pelosi says.

(She adds that only Trump knows better than she does what he has done wrong)

Yes, the Speaker may know things we don’t  know.

Pelosi expresses doubt that the GOP Senate will care about the president’s violation. After all, they’re all in Trump’s “pocket.”

She implies that GOP senate will acquit the president, whatever the evidence shows (which I believe changes the calculus of how to move forward).

Pelosi also talks about the importance of public opinion—which is why “make your opinion known” is on my list of things to do to save Democracy.

Pelosi also promises that, “As we go down this path, the American people will know the truth  . . . and the president will be held accountable, but you have to go down the path when you are ready as you can possibly be.”

She also says the House Dems will be “ready” before 2020. (8.16 minute mark)

(Notice that she’s saying the president WILL be held accountable.)

One argument is that the truth will erode Trump’s support, as with Nixon.

There are a few reasons I believe a Nixon outcome isn’t guaranteed.

Nixon didn’t have Fox and right wing media. John Dean said that Nixon might have survived if he’d had Fox.

The GOP was different during the Nixon era. Much of the white Southern vote was still Democrat. 

The shift of the two parties creating our current levels of polarization was not complete until Reagan. What do I mean? Click here.

In other words, in Nixon’s era, the GOP had not yet fully morphed into an authoritarian party, and therefore was not nearly as dangerous as it is today.

Also people in the 1970s all got their news from the same sources (what John Dean was getting at with his “fox” comment)

Put another way, we shared the same public sphere, which made rational discourse possible.

Some people believe impeachment will stop our current slide into autocracy; and the longer we wait, the more damage. See👇

Because impeachment isn’t likely to remove the president, it’s unclear how impeachment will prevent further damage by the president. Its also likely that acquittal by the Senate will empower him.

I think it’s important to remember that impeachment is not a magic bullet.

Trump campaigned on a promise to dismantle the federal government. He is backed by lots of supporters who want to dismantle the federal government. 

Destroying the “deep state” means destroying all those regulatory agencies that prevent them from doing what they please.

Trump and his supporters want to return to the age of robber barons, when America was “great.”

Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Lindsay Graham and others are destroyers. They like Trump because he is a destroyer.

Impeachment will not change their ways.

The larger goal is to save democracy. 

Remember the Trump-FOX-GOP is resorting to extreme and destructive measure because they understand that their medium and long term prospects are not good.

The GOP is the party of white Christians — a shrinking group.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are the party of young people and everyone except extremist white Christians.

The Democrats are the party of the young and diverse communities, which are growing. 

The future belongs to the Democrats, which is why the GOP is panicking.

As David Hogg says: “We will out live you.”

As long as the Democrats don’t make serious errors, the future is ours.

I’m working on another thread for how to deal with the Republicans without helping them destroy everything. Stay tuned.

Jeff Zeleny said:

I agree that Biden’s position is “nuanced.”His position is also exactly the same as Pelosi’s. I’m not seeing too many commentaries calling Pelosi “nuanced.”

Could that be because she’s a woman?

*steps down from soapbox*

Donna Still asked:

She didn’t say “can’t.” She said there’s a “school of thought that says. . .” I can see the reasoning. He’ll be former president, he’ll have been acquitted, he’ll still have a huge support base, so it’s possible prosecutors will leave him alone. From a legal perspective, yes, of course he can be prosecuted when he leaves office. I understand Pelosi to be saying that she doesn’t want to turn him into a victim.

[View as a Twitter thread]