Feehery: Pelosi's dangerous impeachment game

Feehery: Pelosi's dangerous impeachment game
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPence says it's 'vital' for Congress to pass US-Mexico-Canada trade deal The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump heads to California Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' MORE (D-Calif.) says she doesn’t want to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE.

But those words fail to convince. 

ADVERTISEMENT

How can you not move to impeach a president who has engaged in a cover-up?

How can you say that the man you refuse to remove from office belongs in prison?

And yet, Pelosi has said Trump has engaged in a cover-up and told a group privately that she wants to send him to prison.

Pelosi is playing a dangerous impeachment game.

On the one hand, her leadership team is actively quashing any efforts to pass an inquiry that could directly lead the House passing articles of impeachment against the president.

On the other hand, she is making accusations that not only energize the left but also make it all the more difficult for her stop the impeachment fire from spreading to the entire Democratic caucus. 

By demonizing the president, she makes legislating impossible.

How can she work with Trump in good faith on difficult issues if she believes that he is a crook and a traitor to the country? 

How can she ask her colleagues to vote for politically unpopular but economically essential legislative items like raising the debt limit, keeping the government open or replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement with a new trade deal, if that requires her to negotiate with a man that she believes should be a convicted felon?

ADVERTISEMENT

Pelosi shares governing responsibilities with the Senate Republican majority and with a duly-elected president. That means that she can’t just sit back and make grand statements that might please her progressive base. She has to make laws, not just debating points.

She also has to lead a caucus with a newly elected class of freshman representatives who didn’t run on impeachment and promised their constituents that they would make progress on health care and job creation.

These new members, thus far, have very few legislative results to show their constituents. Launching a thousand and one different investigations into the Trump administration is not going to help anybody get lower-cost health care. 

I worked in the House Republican leadership as they launched their investigations of former President Clinton, shortly after details of his affair with Monica Lewinsky were revealed. 

Conservatives back then held the same dim view of Clinton that liberals have of Trump today. They felt he didn’t deserve to be president, that he disrespected the office, that he was a liar who lied under oath. They also believed that they had to send a message to our children that his behavior was simply not acceptable. 

Much like the rhetoric used by Pelosi, Republican leaders at the time called the president all kinds of names, accused him of all kinds of crimes and did their level best to demonize him to the media and to the American people. 

And as they did all of those things, they made it harder to find common ground with a president that they despised and made impeachment all but inevitable.

On the legislative front, almost nothing of value was achieved for the American people. Politically, the value of demonizing Clinton was more than a bit overstated.

Republicans, led by Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE, were convinced that they would score a significant victory in the 1998 elections. The voters disabused them of that notion and the result was a disappointing loss of five seats, the first time since 1934 that the party not in control of the White House would lose seats in a midterm election. 

Pelosi is making the same mistake that Gingrich made when he was Speaker. In her efforts to show that she is with her political base, she is making it very, very difficult to actually do her job, which is running the House of Representatives. And with her ill-considered rhetoric, she is leading the House to the inevitable and soon-to-be irreversible decision to impeach Trump.

This is dangerous ground for her majority and more importantly for the country at large.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: Impeachment fever bad for Democratic governing vision Feehery: The cheeseburger election Feehery: Borders and walls MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).