Read: The Nancy Pelosi problem
To most Democrats anxiously analyzing the political landscape, there couldn’t be a dumber way to throw the 2020 election to Trump. Look what brought them all the House wins that are still piling up day by day, they say, plus all the governors races that went their way and what’s seeming like an at-worst two-seat net loss in the Senate. It wasn’t playing into Trump’s talking points, but stressing health care, infrastructure, and the way the Trump tax cuts were tilted to the wealthy.
No new leader, no matter who, could absorb what is about to explode, they say. “I just don’t see anyone else being able to serve in that role and push back against Tom Steyer, push back against the two or three or 10 articles of impeachment that get filed,” a House Democrat told me a few days ago. “She’s the only one who can do that. She needs to do that long enough, until the Mueller report comes out … at which point that will determine what happens next.” This House Democrat was not eager to talk publicly about Pelosi or impeachment, but acknowledged that both are going to be issues moving forward.
I asked Pelosi why she thought she could stop the newly emboldened Democrats from chasing impeachment or from tacking left over the next two years.
“Because I’m a liberal. I’m a San Francisco liberal,” she said. Later, she proudly pointed out that she was reelected to her own seat with 87 percent of the vote on Tuesday, and said, “I am such a target of the left, it’s almost funny.”
So that gives you the credibility to say no? I asked her.
“Yes,” she said.
Pelosi does not buy the argument, voiced most prominently by Steyer, that Trump has already clearly committed impeachable offenses through obstruction of justice and violation of the emoluments clause, among other things.
“What you have is a president who has declared war on the Constitution publicly this week. If that’s not obstruction of justice, what is obstruction of justice?” Steyer said, when told Saturday of Pelosi’s comments. Despite pointing out that he has deep respect for her, he said, “My blood just popped out the top out of my head.”
He also noted that his online impeachment petition now has more than 6.2 million signers, with 5,000 more who joined it over Friday night alone. With the incumbent party racking up as many losses as it did on Tuesday, even with a low 3.7 percent unemployment rate, Steyer argued, that’s a referendum on Trump that Democrats should act on.
“There’s always a short-term reason to do the wrong thing,” he said. He said the thinking on waiting any longer is like saying “‘The bully said he’s going to beat us up, but if we give him 50 bucks, he’ll leave us alone. Let’s just give him the 50 bucks.’ He’s going to be back for 100 bucks tomorrow.”
Pelosi argued that Bill Clinton’s impeachment was “so bad, it was so wrong, and they had no right to do it, and it disrupted the public confidence in what we do,” and often likes to point out that she had evidence that George W. Bush had lied in the run-up to the Iraq War that she chose not to impeach him on. Her model is Watergate, when eventually the Republicans joined in. Bring it up, and she even does a little impression of Richard Nixon making the “V” sign, with her head down.