Right now, the political world is aflutter with Nancy Pelosi’s latest gimmick, which is to hold the Articles of Impeachment that the House of Representatives passed yesterday on a party-line vote indefinitely. She appears to be laboring under the delusion that she can force the Republican-controlled Senate to hold a circus trial with witnesses determined by the Democratic Party.
The Senate Majority Leader has already stated that the Senate will dismiss the Articles once they arrive in the Senate, after opening arguments, on the basis that they do not allege any valid statutory high crimes or misdemeanors took place. This is a legal defense in addition to a political defense. While Democrats crowed a lot of nonsense like bribery and extortion, they left those accusations out of their Articles because they had no evidence to demonstrate such things actually occurred. You cannot “bribe” or “extort” someone with funding that is a line-item appropriation in the federal budget, which they ultimately received as a matter of fact.
Much like “collusion” was not a statutory crime, “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” are not statutory crimes. The Democratic Party echo chamber has relentlessly and breathlessly repeated them until their base, which seems to lack an understanding of basic civics on a grand scale, now think they are Real Things.
This is actually the least embarrassing scenario for Democrats, and they are seemingly walking away from it. The worst scenario would be that Mitch McConnell grows a penchant for theater that rivals Pelosi’s, and subpoenas people like Hunter Biden or folks from Ukraine to testify. Despite how the liberal media loves to characterize Hunter, the financial world is well-acquainted with his transgressions, and he’s lucky that Trump so far has been the person pitching his corruption. If McConnell questions Hunter, you are going to hear all about how Hunter’s private equity firm invests in companies that are blacklisted in the US for military espionage and Chinese tech companies that developed facial recognition technology to track the country’s Muslim minority for relocation to concentration camps. You want to talk about threats to national security? You want to talk about bankrolling human rights violations?
Or, even better than that, Hunter Biden saying, “upon advice of my attorney, I respectfully invoke my 5th amendment right not to answer” over and over and over again.
As it is, the Republican majority is incentivized to save those unsavory details for when Biden is actually the Democratic nominee, which rest assured, they hope is the case. The fact that the dude would turn 82 in the White House if elected is far from the worst thing about Biden and the company he keeps.
Enter Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe. Like many Baby Boomer liberals on college campuses who have spent decades masturbating to their own intellectual superiority, Tribe has moved into internet crank territory with zero self-awareness. Before the Mueller Report was issued stating unequivocally that no American citizen worked with the Russians in their disinformation schemes, Tribe was re-tweeting daily the musings of obvious frauds and conspiracy theorists like Louise Mensch, who thinks the Russians are spying on her from a covert base at a regional Connecticut airport. Most normal people would read that stuff and think, wow, you are insane. Not Tribe. He reads that stuff and says, wow, they are doing that to you too?
It might sound incredible to you that an institution like Harvard would employ such a fellow. But remember they also employ Elizabeth Warren, who tried to convince the world that she’s Native American for several decades despite being whiter than an episode of Friends, and thinks spending twice the GDP of the United States on health care is good policy. Harvard’s standards are a lot lower than you would think.
Tribe is the person who has been advising Pelosi to hold onto the Articles of Impeachment, suggesting she doesn’t ever have to turn them over the Senate, which will only publicly mock them and her. His advice reveals the House’s action for the political charade that it is. They’ve been carrying on for weeks now about how Trump is such an immediate threat to democracy and national security that he needs to be removed from office during an election cycle – “before he can steal another election” as they say hilariously – as if the American people have not been watching their dumbass conspiracy theories being shot down at great expense to taxpayers for a few years now. Though to be fair, their batshit Twitter constituency will no doubt assimilate this new gimmick into their web of curious beliefs. It’s what they do.
The only problem is Tribe is not as good of a constitutional law professor as he likes to think he is. Trump is entitled to due process under the constitution like any American citizen, and the House has made “criminal” allegations against him. He is entitled to a trial, and a speedy one at that. He does have legal remedies.
First and foremost among those legal remedies is to petition the Supreme Court, which is stacked with conservative judges, for a writ of mandamus forcing the House of Representatives to deliver the Articles to the Senate for consideration. This is what happens when there are disputes between branches of government or disputes between states or between states and third parties. This is Civics 101, but apparently Harvard doesn’t offer that course.
This sets Nancy Pelosi up for not only an embarrassing ruling against her, but the opportunity for members of the Supreme Court to weigh in on her behavior in quotable ways that will likely appear in high school history textbooks for decades to come.
I have been puzzling for a long time as to why Pelosi ever went down this path in the first place. If you ask most Republicans, they will say that all Pelosi cares about is power. But that cannot be true. An elected official who only cares about power would not be doing something that goes wildly against public opinion. She forced dozens of Democrats in vulnerable districts to vote against the will of their own constituents. Many of them openly delivered farewell addresses during the impeachment debate.
Pelosi does not control the House of Representatives by a large margin, and she only won control because the dysfunction of the resistance in Congress brought a massive wave of retirements on the GOP side. People who looked at all this bickering and said, that’s it, I am fucking through with DC, there are better ways to spend my time. In fact, she saw a defection from her own party as a result of her circus.
Her behavior is not the behavior of a shrewd and pragmatic leader who wants to stay in power. Some have suggested that she is being held captive by young socialists in the party. But that’s not a way to stay in power either. Trump is beating every single one of the Democratic candidates in the polls as the party has moved far left. No matter who has the largest cult of Twitter trolls, Americans in the real world are not voting for that garbage. And about 1/4 of the people at Trump’s rallies are registered Democrats, according to smartphone data the campaign collects.
At this point, I think the parsimonious answer is that Nancy Pelosi is just a profoundly unserious person. She’s not a chick Machiavelli. She is proceeding with bad strategies and seeking low-quality advice because she’s really not that intelligent. And your average American is looking at this shitshow with contempt that is unlikely to fade over the next year.
I am rather fond of Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. But sometimes malice and stupidity are co-present, and that’s what you have in Pelosi.