WASHINGTON—The Speaker’s Balcony in the U.S. Capitol is not in any way a balcony. It is more of a hallway, just off the rotunda. But, if you line up some flags at one end and park a rostrum in the middle, you can make it look like a balcony, if a balcony is what’s called for. That was the setting on Thursday, because what was happening there needed a balcony, a high place for high purposes. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a press availability to announce via prepared statement the least surprising news of the week. In a low, precise voice, Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would exercise what the Constitution calls its “sole power of impeachment.”
She began by casting El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago as King George III.
Let us begin where our Founders began in 1776: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another.” With those words our Founders courageously began our Declaration of Independence from an oppressive monarch for among other grievances the king's refusal to follow rightfully passed laws. In the course of today's events it becomes necessary for us to address among other grievances the president's failure to faithfully execute the law. When crafting the Constitution, the Founders feared the return of a monarchy in America and, having just fought a war of independence, they specifically feared the prospect of a king-president corrupted by foreign influence.
In a week of high-class Founders Porn, this was the top of the line. Having paid yet another homage to James Madison, George Mason, and Gouverneur Morris, Pelosi got down to business.
Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our Founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment. I commend our committee chairs and their members for their somber approach to actions which I wish the president had not made necessary.
Even though everybody in Washington, as well as everybody in America who’d been paying attention, knew this was coming, it was still a moment draped heavily in history. It echoed. It resonated. In this odd place in the Capitol building, the entire weight of the legislative branch suddenly lurched to life in a very confined space. Of course, in a way, Pelosi can’t win for losing. There are as many people pushing her to slow the process down as there are people pushing her to speed it up. And, even with that, the people who want to pump the brakes on impeachment are divided between the people who want to slow the process so as to include many of the administration’s other crimes, and the people who want to slow the process so that they’ll have more time to gum it up entirely.
I don’t think it’s insignificant that Pelosi did not put any formal timetable on her announcement; there is reporting to the effect that she and her leadership team want to wrap up their end of things within two weeks so that everyone can go home for Christmas. But Pelosi didn’t say that Thursday, so I guess, theoretically, it might not be entirely decided yet. I also am coming around to the position that the house is engulfed in flames now, and that temporizing extensively at this critical point—Rudy Giuliani is back in Ukraine right now, for god’s sake—might damage a lot more than the re-election chances of nervous Democrats.
“For me, who grew up in the Watergate era, to be here and to participate in an impeachment that I think is even more important than Richard Nixon’s, because the violations of the Constitution are graver and more obvious, and the disruption of our government and our society as we’ve known it is more pervasive,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s an honor for me to be here. Some days, it’s disillusioning because it’s slow, the process, but to be with Speaker Pelosi this morning, as I was, as she announced that we were going forward, is coming a long way.”
There’s really no choice left for them. The Republicans are not going to budge in their support for the president*. (Politico had a story Thursday morning about how the Republicans are scoffing now even at the notion of censuring the president*, a really bad idea anyway, but also a demonstration that there are no persuadable Republicans on the issue of doing anything that smacks of punishing a lawless chief executive.) They might as well get the machine rolling at top speed as soon as they can. “I’ve worked on one or two members who are retiring,” Cohen said. “They say their minds are open, but I don’t know if their souls and their guts are there.
“This president doesn’t learn. They’re never going to learn, and that’s why we have to put a marker down, but I don’t think it’ll change him. I mean, there are laws, there are commandments, there are customs, this man doesn’t care about any of them. So, I think what we’re doing is the right thing to do, but I don’t know if it’ll stop him.”
Later Thursday morning, at a press conference, a reporter made the mistake of asking Pelosi if she hated the president*. Pelosi went back to being Nancy D’Allesandro of Baltimore on the guy.
I think this president is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when he doesn't deal with helping our Dreamers of which we are very proud. I think he's in denial about the Constitution—about the climate crisis. However, that's about the election. This is about—take it up in the election. This is about the Constitution of the United States. And the facts that leads to the president's violation of the oath of office. As a Catholic I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is heart full of love and always pray for the president. And I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.
I could be wrong, but I think she’s got this.
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