It's Almost Over: Pelosi to Cave, As Dems Turn on Failed 'Impeach and Withhold' Stunt

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Posted: Jan 09, 2020 1:05 PM
It's Almost Over: Pelosi to Cave, As Dems Turn on Failed 'Impeach and Withhold' Stunt

To the surprise of nobody with even a loose understanding of the current power dynamics in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the brink of abandoning her ridiculous and unserious 'impeach and withhold' strategy -- though I wonder if the word "strategy" may be too generous here.  She got the harebrained idea, apparently, by watching a convicted felon's commentary on CNN:


"Powerful political leader takes controversial action based on cable news commentary," I snarked on Twitter, noting the irony.  I've been trying to piece together how someone like Pelosi, who is touted as a sharp tactician, could make such a dumb unforced error.  Part of the answer, I think, is being accustomed to glowing press coverage.  When you (rightly) conclude that your position (no matter how stupid) will garner favorable, or at least non-hostile, treatment from the media, you sometimes aimlessly wander into treacherous terrain.  It's an arrogance issue.  And again, it's somewhat understandable, given the predictable tropes of the overwhelmingly Democrat-aligned national press corps: 


Geraghty also notes that Pelosi has now been featured on the cover of Time magazine four times since 2018, after griping that she hadn't made it previously.  When powerful Democrats say 'jump,' many in the media ask 'how high'?  And all that fawning sometimes leads to blinkered blunders.  Indeed, this landmine has now exploded, with Democrats in both chambers finally throwing in the towel in public statements.  Mitch McConnell, who has coolly rebuffed Pelosi's toothless "demands" throughout this fatuous weeks-long exercise, twisted the knife on the Senate floor earlier by reading quotes from Democrats:


Politico reported this morning that the cave is coming.  The feeble pre-spin from a Democratic aide all but confirmed the surrender:

Speaker NANCY PELOSI is on the brink of ending her hold of the impeachment articles. The House is going to send them to the Senate in the near future, which will trigger the trial, most likely in the next few weeks. PELOSI has not given any hints of exactly when she might start this process, but we were told late Wednesday night this is coming soon. THE LEFT WAS CLAMORING for PELOSI to hold the articles, in an attempt to get Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL to agree to witnesses. He didn’t -- and most people realized he never would. PELOSI ALLIES, though, say they forced a weekslong public discussion on impeachment trial witnesses, and whether MCCONNELL should be forced to guarantee them. HERE’S WHAT A SENIOR DEM AIDE TOLD US: “The hold was clearly successful. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but a huge part of what we wanted was a national spotlight on the fairness of the trial. There’s no question we achieved that.”

Oh yes, a huge success.  The national spotlight is surely fixed on Senate procedure, or something.  Bravo, Nancy -- what a cunning play!  Here's my favorite passage in the Politico story:


In another interesting wrinkle regarding the legislative calendar, one wonders if this self-proclaimed "master legislator" gave much thought to this:


Avoiding some of this mess was obviously part of the reason House Democrats raced to pass impeachment articles by Christmas.  Turning around and gumming up the works, for no good reason, especially after intoning about the fierce urgency of moving fast, made zero sense.  But hey, it sounded like a good troll when Dean-o floated it on CNN, and journalists would cover for them, so they gave it a whirl.  And now the whirl is ending in a face-plant.  Take a bow, Madam Speaker.  I'll leave you with a House Democratic chairman kinda sorta walking back his criticism of Pelosi's strategy, yet reiterating his exact same point, followed by today's key quotes, which underscore the yawning leverage imbalance between Pelosi and McConnell:


One last note: Republican Senators are unified...for now.  When the trial starts, and the time arrives for debate over the calling of witnesses, fissures might well emerge.  Things could get hairier for the party, and uglier for the president, if John Bolton offers devastating testimony.  That's still a hypothetical, twice over; but this may be as good as it gets on this subject for upper chamber Republicans for awhile, and Pelosi is doing them a real favor by dragging it out.  Regardless, I still see no plausible path to 67 Senate votes to remove the president from office.  So all this drama is still hurtling toward an obvious, if slightly forestalled, conclusion.