Nancy Pelosi: We have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Nancy Pelosi: We have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate

BALTIMORE – There’s an old story about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the daughter of this city’s long-time Democratic Mayor Tommy (The Elder) D’Alesandro, about her leaving here and moving all the way to San Francisco, where she looked for a new home for her family.

She finally found the perfect place and wondered why it was available in such a tough housing market.

“Well,” her real estate agent explained, “the owner was just appointed to a cabinet position – in the Nixon administration.”

“I’m sorry,” Pelosi immediately replied, “but we won’t be able to live here.”

Today’s Republican purists will make whatever they wish of such a story and add it to the list of calculating political motivations they routinely attach to the House Speaker.

In the aftermath of last week’s House vote to impeach President Donald Trump, largely orchestrated by Pelosi, Republicans are already saying the whole process is “political” – meaning, they see sinister motives at play here, and that Trump wouldn’t be in today’s hot water were it not for such strident and unfair lines of political partisanship.

Implied, also, is this: You’d never catch Republicans muddying up such a serious process with the business of raw politics.

Let’s all tell this to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.

In the upcoming Senate trial, he’s the equivalent of jury foreman. But he’s already rigged the verdict, telling the GOP house organ Fox News, “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”

In response, Speaker Pelosi remarked, “Our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected there could be a rogue president. I don’t think they suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.”

Ohio’s Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said there is “increasing talk” McConnell should “recuse himself” from the senate procedure.

Fat chance.

Are the Pelosi-led Democrats playing politics with impeachment? Here’s another idea: Let’s all ask Lindsey Graham.

The South Carolina veteran, to whom all senate GOP eyes turn for guidance when they aren’t looking toward McConnell, declared, “This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly. I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to be a fair juror here.”

Let us thank Graham and McConnell for this much: they’ve stripped away the fiction that they’re taking an objective, unbiased, honest look at the charges against Trump – and they’ve stripped away their own hypocritical arguments that the Democrats alone are orchestrating the politics of the moment.

Let’s not pretend we’re naive at this late moment, okay? Everybody knows politics plays into every move in Washington. It’s as natural, on Capitol Hill, as eating, breathing, or talking out of both sides of the mouth.

But we count on our elected officials to transcend political leanings, even as politics cast a shadow over everything. Facts count. Evidence counts. A defendant’s own words count.

So let’s remember what brought us to impeachment for only the third time in American history: politics itself – President Trump’s cruelty in service of his own political gain.

He tried to withhold $391 million from a Ukraine desperately trying to hold off Russian forces in a war that’s already cost roughly 14,000 lives. He wanted Ukraine to make some phony announcement of an investigation into Joe Biden and his son. Ukraine didn’t even have to do an actual investigation – they only had to announce one, so the White House could then launch an ongoing fake narrative about the phony investigation.

Such an act would be reminiscent of Trump, during his phony story about Barack Obama’s birth, sending investigators to Hawaii where, Trump lied, “They’re coming up with some unbelievable stuff.”

Oh, yeah? Like what kind of “unbelievable stuff?”

So now, as impeachment proceedings move toward the U.S. Senate, do we see signs of politics being played on both sides of the aisle?

Of course, of course. But nothing like the cheap political trick Donald Trump tried to play, when he put human lives on the line to cover his re-election shot.

About the author

Michael Olesker

Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of five previous books, including Michael Olesker's Baltimore: If You Live Here, You're Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts' Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins Press. Contact the author.

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