|STEVEN KOSLOWSKI / ALAMY|
I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do.~ House Speaker NANCY PELOSI
The catalogue of the horrors that Donald Trump has inflicted on man, woman, child and beast -- ranging from migrant families separated in border concentration camp cages to polar bears threatened by oil drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- is so horrifying and so vast that it barely can be comprehended. But as the third year of the Trump nightmare slouches to a close, we need to remember that beyond that traitorous Republican congressional choir, there have been other enablers, chief among them Nancy Pelosi.
This assessment is unfair to Madam Speaker only to the extent that she and Democrats in general have been constrained by the limits of their legislative powers. All that changed when the Blue Wave midterm election victories bestowed the party a substantial House majority and the mandate and some of the tools they needed to take down the demigod in the Oval Office.
Alas, it has been nearly a year since that Blue Wave broke on the shore of a Trump-besieged America and nearly eight months since Pelosi was handed those tools, but all she has done in that time is shoot sparks out her ass and mumbled about stopping Trump while pretty much standing in the way of efforts to do just that.
This assessment also is unfair to Madam Speaker, but only to the extent that Trump has been overwhelming in his vileness as only a malignant narcissist with immense powers can be. But the president has outplayed Pelosi at virtually every turn and rather than embolden her to fight back harder, she has retreated and pouted when called out on her egregious leadership lapses.
The deadly serious business of impeaching a president who has been rubbing his high crimes and misdemeanors in Pelosi's face finally if belatedly would get underway last week as House Judiciary Committee took the unbold step of voting on Thursday to formally establish the rules of an impeachment investigation, but Pelosi shat on that by pointedly refusing to use the word "impeachment" in reference to a vote that was all about impeachment.
"I support what is happening in the Judiciary Committee that enables them to do their process of interrogation and their investigation, and I salute them for that work," Pelosi said in saying nothing much in the manner that Sarah Palin, who after all softened up that infamous basket of deplorables for Trump, would say nothing.
When pressed by reporters on Thursday and again on Friday about whether she is uncomfortable with the term "impeachment inquiry," Pelosi bristled and then became visibly angry. Not at Trump, mind you, but at being called out.
"I'm not answering any more questions about a possible inquiry, investigation, and the rest," Pelosi barked before walking away from the podium and cutting short her weekly press conference after calling for the media to focus on Senate Republicans' refusal to take up a Democratic proposal to expand background checks for gun purchases.
"Why is it that you are hung up with a word over here when lives are at stake over there?" she asked and then click-clacked out of the room on her power pumps, although a whole lot more lives are at stake -- not to mention American democracy itself -- beyond the innocents of the next mass murderer squeezing off shots from the 100-round clip in his assault rifle. I don't for a moment believe Pelosi is a double agent secretly in Trump's pay, but why is she so intent on fighting a battle here and a battle there but not the war?
Yet again this assessment is unfair to Madam Speaker because she has to balance the party's interests insofar as not alienating those crucial swing voters in advance of the 2020 election, as well as luring a few deplorables out of their basket. But Trump is not just any president and the election is merely the most important since 1860, forget about 1932 or 2008.
While I've got my hammer out, I'm going to take a whack at Barack Obama.
Trump's predecessor is the most influential and beloved Democrat of the past decade, yet his otherwise commanding voice has been substantially absent since Trump began taking a wrecking ball to America. We've heard more from Lock Her Up Hillary's soul mate than from the 44th president.
That is a damned shame, but I suspect it is just as Pelosi wishes. As do most of the Democratic presidential wannabes beyond Joe Biden. Obama's hugely positive legacy is being marginalized if not argued over on the debate stage, and the feeling persists that Pelosi believes that Obama unbridled would trample on her own message, whatever the frick that is. (I can, however, purchase Official Obama Merchandise at the Official Democratic Store, as I am reminded by email, although no presidential Sharpie pens.)
Sorry, Nancy and Barack, but this is not a big game as politics so often is. Have you given up without really trying? Sure seems that way.
It is a game that Trump is playing for keeps. The time for circumspection, as well as relying on that hackneyed old game playbook, is over. The crisis is well upon us, and Pelosi's stubborn inaction -- as well as Obama's silence -- looks more and more like dereliction of duty with every passing day and every opportunity lost.