Nancy Pelosi's Tightrope Act
Nancy Pelosi has a problem.
On the one hand she knows that if she gives in to the hell-bent on impeachment progressives in her party, Democrats risk a public backlash that can cost them the presidential election next year.
On the other hand, she knows that the natives are restless; that the hard left base (egged on by its allies in the media) won’t rest until Donald Trump is tossed out of the Oval Office and onto the street.
What’s a hyper-partisan gal from San Francisco to do?
How about this? Try to walk the tightrope and hope you make it to the other side. Appease the impeachment wing of her party by declaring that America is in a “constitutional crisis,” as she (and others) told reporters. Let House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, as they did. Stand aside while the progressives who want someone’s head on a platter demand Barr’s impeachment. And hope all that appeases the progressive base.
But what if it doesn't? What if it has the opposite affect? What if all the talk about constitutional crises, and all subpoenas and the partisan rhetoric in front of the TV cameras eggs on the impeachment crowd? What does Nancy Pelosi do then? Stutter?
Which is what she did when a reporter asked Mrs. Pelosi if Attorney General Barr should actually be arrested and put behind bars for lying to Congress, as she contends he did. She stuttered and stammered before finally coming up with a lame, non-answer.
“There’s a process,” Mrs. Pelosi said, and “the committee will act upon how to proceed.” A simple “yes” or “no” would only get her into trouble either with her party’s base that would love to see the attorney general in jail or with those “ordinary” Americans who have common sense and think locking up the nation’s chief legal officer probably is a bridge too far.
Nancy Pelosi, it seems, has a problem.
Let’s face it, it’s been a bad year for the Democrats. They had been counting on Robert Mueller to make things easy for them. They figured he’d conclude that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians, that he was a Russian asset, either knowingly or otherwise, and that would clear the way to get rid of him.
But it didn’t turn out that way.
So they moved on to obstruction of an underlying crime – collusion – obstruction of a crime that we now know didn’t exist.
And then they moved on to the attorney general, who said he’d answer the House Judiciary Committee’s questions – but refused to be grilled by Democrat staff lawyers, which would have looked a lot like the Watergate hearings -- which it seems is just what Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler had in mind.
So when it comes to Mr. Barr, what exactly is his crime? Well, for starters, Mr. Nadler and his posse are demanding that he let them see the entire Mueller report with no redactions. But they know that if the attorney general gives them what they want, he’d be breaking the law. Grand jury testimony is secret. Only a judge can unseal it.
So the Democrats who say, “No one is above the law” want the country’s top legal officer … to break the law.
Besides, Attorney General Barr –who was under no legal obligation to release any of the report but released it anyway – has allowed senior members of Congress to view a less redacted version of the Mueller Report than the public got to see … a version that’s more than 98 percent free of blackouts. So far not even one Democrat has gone to the Justice Department to view the report.
That's right, the report they demand to see, they haven’t taken time … to see.
So what’s this really about? Here’s an answer from Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel: “What does Mr. Nadler want, if not information? He wants the fight; he wants a show. Mrs. Pelosi prefers to avoid impeachment for fear of public blowback. But she and her team need desperately to feed the angry progressive masses, to demonstrate that they are taking it to the Trump team.”
As they say at senior citizens’ clubs all across America: Bingo!
If progressive prayers weren’t answered when Mr. Mueller came back with a no collusion verdict, then they needed something else to keep the restless natives from staging a full-blown revolt against the Pelosi leadership. They needed a "show" to "feed the angry progressive masses," which is just what we're witnessing.
And here’s the icing on the cake: If Democrats can de-legitimatize the attorney general by branding him a liar and citing him for contempt, his investigation into how the Mueller inquiry actually started – and what role Hillary Clinton’s campaign played -- might come off as suspect.
And as if all this wasn’t causing enough grief for Democrats, there’s more bad news: The economy that President Trump presides over is still going strong. How horrible!
Democrats need a painful recession to smooth the way in next year’s election. They need people to lose their jobs. They need voters to … suffer.
Of course, they’ll never admit this, not publicly anyway. But they know that presidents win reelection when they’re presiding over a strong economy. Mr. Trump, because of his divisiveness, may be the exception to that rule, but bad news on the economy is better than good news as far as Democrat chances next year are concerned.
Speaker Pelosi is a savvy pol who knows that everyone who hates Donald Trump loves what the Democrats who want to impeach the president and his attorney general are doing. But she also knows that everyone who loves Donald Trump hates what the Democrats are doing. That leaves the crucial middle. And so, Mrs. Pelosi is surely wondering, what happens if those swing voters grow tired of the non-stop overtly partisan progressive show? What if they blame Democrats for not accepting the Mueller findings -- that there was no collusion -- put an end to their endless investigations, and just move on?
As I say, Nancy Pelosi has a problem.