The New Republic - July 24, 2019

... Whenever Pelosi claims to have a plan for managing him long term, she’s met with affirmational centrist validation that says she knows what she’s doing—and that any inability to parse her logic must definitionally be a shortcoming on the part of the observer. In short, if Trump is playing 3-D chess, Pelosi must be operating in some more sophisticated double-digit dimension that’s so beyond the ken of regular voters that none of us can possibly comprehend it. Surely there has to be a strategy behind all of this sitting around, claiming to be outraged, and doing nothing.

Pelosi herself has done much to enforce this perception, both with her refusal to communicate her rationale—silence is often mistaken for genius—and by periodically alluding to hypothetical wheels in motion that may or may not exist at all. When forced to comment, she’s fearless, but only in her willingness to insult the intelligence of other Democrats. We’re told that the plan, whatever it is, is working because Trump is “self-impeaching”—a nonsensical claim belied by the daily onslaught of cascading horrors that the administration continues to unleash upon Americans with no consequences whatsoever. (If he is self-impeaching, however that happens, it’s happening so slowly and incrementally that it’s not visible to the naked eye, and it’s doubtful that he’ll have completed the process before the end of a second term.)

It’s not clear whether Pelosi even thinks people actually believe this line of reasoning. She just doesn’t seem to think it’s her job to convince them. Voters handed Democrats a meaningful avenue for holding the executive branch accountable in 2018, but Pelosi seems to have no interest in the hard work of doing that, except inasmuch as it means Democratic Party elites will issue public statements condemning the president’s actions, and effectively fundraise off of those public statements. As far as she’s concerned, her assurance that she’s in some distant fashion righting the wrongs of Trumpism by hoarding her own symbolic political power should be action enough for now.

To be fair, her behavior isn’t unusual in the context of Democratic Party leadership, where the standing expectation is that elites will make decisions for the electorate behind closed doors, that voters are too unsophisticated to understand their political calculus, and that leadership has no political or moral obligation to educate them. Pelosi said as much herself when she claimed that one reason for her hesitancy to begin impeachment proceedings was that the public did not understand how impeachment works. That assessment may in fact be true, but if so, it implies more, not less, civic engagement on the part of party leaders. In her stolid insistence that the whole impeachment process is simply too complicated for the electorate to comprehend, she manages to reinforce the very misperception she criticizes—that impeachment is an up-or-down vote, and not a process designed to build a case against an unfit president accused of misconduct—by suggesting that it’s unlikely that impeachment would, by definition, be successful, because the Senate is unlikely to convict. 

This has not, of course, stopped her from fundraising off of it. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee donor inboxes are littered with appeals signed by the speaker to, all caps, stop Trump, as if the critical brake mechanisms are being controlled by donors and not by the officials whose elections they support. It’s like watching a person drown while the lifeguard sits in her tower, performatively noting with alarm that someone is sinking into the sea and surely someone—someone!—must save the swimmer. ...
Read full article at The New Republic