Speaker Pelosi is quoted in today’s NYT (article by Glenn Thrush) saying that Democrats need to “own the center left, own the mainstream.” And that “our passions [in the 2018 election] were for health care, bigger paychecks, cleaner government–a simple message….we did not engage in some of the other exuberances that exist in our party.” She says “we have to inoculate against” the possibility that the president will challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory in 2020 unless the margin is margin is overwhelming, and has a “coldblooded” plan to be rid of Trump: “do not get dragged into a protracted impeachment” fight that would be crushed in the GOP Senate, and do not risk alienating moderate voters, instead “own the center left, own the mainstream.” Nevertheless, according to Thrush, Pelosi is “losing patience” and “suggesting that Mr. Trump’s behavior rises to the level of impeachment, even if she views the processs itself as unacceptably dangerous for Democrats.”
I hope the portrayal of Speaker Pelosi in the Times is not completely accurate. If it is, she is proposing some false choices. There are certainly some overly exuberant and even fanatical impeachment enthusiasts (some undoubtedly trolls with ulterior motives, some sincere). But House Democrats are or ought to be capable of fighting for health care, for better jobs and wages, for laws protecting workers’ rights and voting rights, and at the same time fight for cleaner government. The cleaner government agenda is hollow if it does not focus on overseeing and checking the abuses of power, the unconstitutional self-dealing, the obstruction of justice, and the disloyalty to our democratic republic by this president. The Mueller report is barely the half of it. There is really no need for a “protracted” impeachment. No good reason that impeachment hearings could begin after Memorial Day and articles drawn up before the 4th of July recess, and a vote taken sometime this summer, before Labor Day. Then let the Senate and Mitch McConnell do what they will. Maybe they will manage to avoid holding a trial at all. All the better for Democrats who want to “own the mainstream.”
If Democrats cannot defend the Constitution, the Take Care Clause, and the integrity of our government, something is really wrong with them. This president is not going to hold back from challenging the legitimacy of the 2020 election or the Supreme Court or the Federal Reserve or anything. Democrats were elected in November 2018 to fight for our health care and other kitchen-table issues, and many millions of people are far too busy to follow all the details of his corruption. But the case for impeachment is as clear as it can be. On practical grounds and on principle. Posing false choices and straw men is not the answer. Public opinion is fluid right now, but the moment won’t last indefinitely, and hard choices must be made, not this week perhaps but within a week or so after Robert Mueller testifies publicly (as reported) sometime later this month. No stepping backward.