Let Pelosi Be Pelosi

[ Posted Thursday, January 24th, 2019 – 18:00 UTC ]

A scant few months ago, the topic du jour at the Washington cocktail parties was whether Nancy Pelosi would even become the next speaker of the House. Maybe a revolt-from-within would take her down. She was seen as (pick one): too old, too weak to fight Trump effectively, too centrist, or too squishy when the going got tough. These arguments now seem laughable, but an outsized amount of attention was paid to them in the punditocracy, and not all that long ago. Is anyone now still wondering whether Pelosi can effectively take on Trump, or whether her age precludes her from being an effective Democratic leader?

Pelosi just won a symbolic victory over the president, after Trump backed down last night and agreed to Pelosi's demand that the State Of The Union speech be postponed until after the government has reopened. Trump caved, to put it plainly, and Pelosi emerged victorious. This was a small victory, to be sure (it is of little comfort to the 800,000-plus who still aren't being paid), but it was a clear victory nonetheless.

Trump's position was always weak, for three glaring reasons. The first is that he promised -- ad nauseam, in fact -- that Mexico was going to pay for his big, beautiful wall. The second is that Trump himself was pressured into saying he would be "proud" to shut the government down and he'd take all the blame for it, before the shutdown even began. And the third is that Trump could not get a thin dime for his wall for the entire two years when Republicans ran Congress. Trump's promise that Mexico would pay was obviously nothing more than a gigantic lie. Trump has tried to blame Democrats for the shutdown, but each time he does all the television networks just re-run that clip of him saying how proud he would be to shut the government down and promising Chuck Schumer that he'd take all the blame. And Trump had a lot more leverage with a Republican House, and still doesn't seem to quite grasp that with a new House sheriff in town he no longer has the unfettered ability to get Congress to do what he wants.

Trump's position, in fact, is getting weaker by the day -- another fact he hasn't fully faced up to, if insider reports are correct. Trump has somehow convinced himself that as more time passes, more and more Democrats will be flocking to his position. This has not happened. In fact, the Democratic bill to reopen the government just got more votes in the Senate than Trump's plan. Six Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it, while only one Democrat voted for Trump's plan. There is movement, in other words, but the movement is away from Trump.

Trump's position with the public gets weaker and weaker the longer this goes on, as well. Next month is the start of tax filing season. The I.R.S. has seen record numbers of people who are refusing to show up for work (since they aren't getting paid -- a clause in their Union contract states that financial hardship is an acceptable reason not to show up), which will delay (if not grind to a halt) the processing of everyone's returns. Farmers are going to see an end to their federal payments in the very near future (especially the billions of taxpayer dollars Trump is giving them because his trade war with China is hurting them so badly), if they haven't already stopped. Airports are already feeling the strain of T.S.A. workers calling in sick in record numbers, which is likely to increase as time goes on. All of this is being dutifully reported by the news media, as the pain of not being paid continues to get worse for federal workers. Trump's own approval ratings are headed downward, and the public overwhelmingly supports the Democratic position and not Trump's wall. This will also get worse over time. Sooner or later, Trump is going to have to wake up to these realities.

We're really in the ultimate "let Trump be Trump" moment. All the so-called "adults in the room" are now gone from the White House. This has left Trump surrounded by sycophants, assorted yes-men, and his own family members. There are no brakes on Trump's worst impulses any more, which is how the whole shutdown mess started. Trump is now doing precisely what Trump wants to do, without any pointy-headed weenies telling him it's not the smartest thing for him to do. And there is apparently no one willing to tell him that it's not working out the way he had hoped for, either. So the Trump tantrum continues unabated.

Trump did do one thing right, but it has now backfired on him in the Senate. Because the media is addicted to "both-sides-ism," they have continually been misstating the Democrats' position. They try to squeeze what is happening into the storyline of: "the two sides are at odds over the amount," which is just not true and never has been. Democrats have a deal-breaker, and it is refusing to fund Trump's new wall. Period. But Team Trump, seeing the opening the media provided, offered up their "compromise" bill -- temporary action on the DACA kids for the full amount of wall money Trump was demanding. This allowed them to move the media narrative from "they're squabbling between $1.3 billion and $5.7 billion" to "Trump offers Democrats some of what they want, why can't they compromise?" Both of these were false narratives, but they benefited Trump's side of the argument.

But then a funny thing happened while the actual bill was being drafted -- Stephen Miller got his dirty paws all over it. Tossed in without previous mention were several poison-pill clauses which virtually guaranteed there would be almost no Democratic support. Radical changes in immigration law were added, which Democrats simply could not support. This resulted in the measure only getting 50 votes in the Senate -- in a Senate with 53 Republicans, mind you.

Now it is the Democrats' chance to change the narrative once again. Reports are that Nancy Pelosi will make a new offer either tonight or tomorrow. It won't be a bill on the House floor, because she will still stick to her "open the government, then we can negotiate" position, but it will be a clear response to Trump's previous offer. Pelosi will reportedly offer to agree to give Trump more money for border security -- perhaps even the full $5.7 billion that he's asking for. Importantly, however, none of this money will go towards Trump's wall. Democrats are going to propose boosting all the other border security measures -- more agents patrolling the border, more technology to stop drugs from coming in, more immigration judges, etc. -- which could effectively end the mistaken media narrative about "squabbling over the amount." If Democrats propose $5.7 billion with no wall money, and Trump is holding out for $5.7 in wall money, then the issue becomes should become crystal clear, even to the pundits: the dealbreaker is the wall, period.

So, to recap: Trump's Senate bill got fewer votes than the Democratic bill. Six Republicans crossed the aisle to vote to reopen the government with no wall funding. With a new offer on the table from Pelosi and the Democrats, the ball will now be back in Trump's court. It should become clear even to Trump that the only way he's getting his wall money is to declare a national emergency and bypass Congress altogether. And the longer the impasse goes on, the more Trump bleeds public support. The more media stories about federal workers in dire circumstances and the closer we get to tax time, the more the pressure is going to mount on Trump to give in (especially when his top advisors go on television with a "let them eat cake" attitude).

Nancy Pelosi has made her position clear. She wants federal workers to be paid again, but at the same time, she will not give in to Trump's hostage-taking. This is pretty easy to explain to the furloughed workers: "If I give in now, then you'll get paid sooner right now, but then every single time Trump wants something in the future, he's going to stop your paychecks once again. If he knows this will work, he will do it over and over again. Which is why we cannot give in now -- to protect your future paychecks." That's an argument that's pretty easy to understand, really.

Nancy Pelosi -- for the first time in American history -- has forced the president to postpone his State Of The Union speech. If she were vindictive, she'd give a major speech on the House floor next Tuesday night, in the hopes that the networks would carry it live (they've already got the timeslot open, since they expected Trump to give his own speech then). She would pack the House with unpaid federal workers and make the case directly to them why she had to stand up to the bully. She could remind everyone about all the "Mexico's going to pay for it" nonsense Trump spouted on the campaign trail. She could ask Trump if he was still "proud" to shut the government down. She could hammer him mercilessly, in fact.

She probably won't, though. She's already winning this faceoff, so spiking the football in such a fashion would be superfluous and unseemly. Her message is simple: open the government, pay the workers, and then -- and only then -- we can all have a big political debate over the wall, border security, and anything else under the sun. We may even give you your full $5.7 billion, but not for the wall. But that entire discussion will not even begin until the government reopens. And you won't get your State Of The Union speech until that happens, either. Nancy Pelosi is no stranger to hardball politics -- in fact, she learned such things at her father's knee. She's seen it all before, and she knows how to fight political bullies. She not only has a backbone of steel, she's also got the entire Democratic caucus solidly behind her (instead of the usual "herding cats" situation). In other words, the best way to effectively fight "letting Trump be Trump" is to let Pelosi be Pelosi.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


25 Comments on “Let Pelosi Be Pelosi”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Until Pelosi plays hardball with the Big Cake bakers in the Democratic Party by eliminating the Big Cake from the Democratic Party nothing she does can be trusted by the pie loving population.

    This shows why she was a bad choice for speaker, because she lets them eat cake just like trump does.

    It is just cake as usual. If polls show the public blames the RepubliCakes it plays into the Cakeocrat strategy of cutting out the pie.

    poll after poll shows that 90% of citizens like pie, yet it isn't a reason to play hardball with the Big cake BCP candidates by withholding our votes and keeping them out of our refrigerators.

    Maybe pie-lovers should start trolling journalists that spew out the cake-loving cow pies for both BCPs until they start playing hardball against the Big Cake interests and their Cakeys Cakers like Pelosi.

    The people want pie. Give them pie instead of this big cake, lesser of two devils food nonsense.


  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    In other words, the best way to effectively fight "letting Trump be Trump" is to let Pelosi be Pelosi.


  3. [3] 
    goode trickle wrote:


    Is it really all about the big cake? we all know that "two scoops" is in the bag for big ice cream.

    Isn't it really time for the electorate to reject both big cake and big pie? wouldn't that make it better?

    Until the electorate stands up to big pastry nothing can happen that is positive...

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    you are misrepresenting the pie movement as somehow similar to the big cake, and throwing out ice cream as an unrelated distraction. pie is a voter centered movement, while big cake is instituted from the top down. big cake candidates have no reason to feed anyone but the people who bake for them, while pie can be made by voters directly. yet, you are arguing against what pie is not instead of addressing the issue afoot, and making moosepoop excuses not to vote for pie. until you address what the opportunity of pie is instead of making excuses based on what it is not, you will continue to be part of the problem.


  5. [5] 
    Kick wrote:

    Last time the Grand Jury met on Thursday, arrests were made on Friday.

    It's Friday. :)

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    it looks like this week's contestant is roger stone.


  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Fud News Bweak!

    Wodger Stone Awwested in Fowt Laudewdale!

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Seven Counts! Oooff!

    Overheard at the WH.

    "Better get a dozen buckets of KFC....It's gonna be a long night."

  9. [9] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    LET Pelosi be Pelosi?

    As long as Trump and Pelosi are in office they will continue to be Trump and Pelosi. The way we let them be what they are is by electing them to office.

    And as long as it keeps working they will keep doing OVER and OVER AGAIN.

    It's time for citizens to stand up and say that taking Big Money is a deal breaker. Which is why we can no longer give in- to protect our elections in the future, including 2020.

    That's an argument that's pretty easy to understand, really.

    And the media needs to stop dutifully reporting the "Both-sides-ism" lie as if there were only two sides and start informing citizens aboot other options such as One Demand that provides citizens with the opportunity to play hardball with the Big Money candidates from both CMPs and work together to hold fast on taking Big Money as a deal breaker.

    As you said it's an easy concept to understand, show you understand by informing citizens aboot other options.

  10. [10] 
    John M wrote:

    There is talk among House Democrats of offering the 5.7 billion in funding that Trump wants for border security, including drones, hiring new border agents, and even refurbishing existing parts of border fencing, etc. Just no funding for any new construction that adds to and does not replace existing structure already in place.

  11. [11] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Clearly I'm "out of the (pastry) loop" around here, but Sweet Jesus, do you people ever listen to yourselves??

    P.S. Sorry John M, if that comes across as a "fright bomb", I just had to say it!

  12. [12] 
    neilm wrote:

    Pelosi's Achilles heel is fragmentation of support in the House. As long as she is able to deliver a block vote she will be able to have a seat at the table.

    McConnell has the same weakness, but for him, the fragmentation is already starting.

    It seems the most likely outcome is for the Democrat's $5.7B proposal to be accepted and the government to reopen, coupled with Trump declaring a National Emergency to redirect funds to his Wall.

    Everybody wins - Trump can gloat over getting $5.7B and the Wall, Pelosi can say she never gave in to the Wall and fight the emergency in courts.

  13. [13] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Not sure how Pelosi, McConnell and Trump saving face by spinning that into a "victory" means that everybody wins.

    If that's winning- Haven't you got tired of winning yet?

    As one of the people that doesn't consider what Pelosi, McConnell or Trump do any kind of victory I am certainly tired of it.

  14. [14] 
    Paula wrote:

    Roger Stone indicted - indictment includes narrative of what he's accused of. Someone noted/opined that the way these indictments are being written provides the stories so that if WH tries to suppress the final report it will already be pretty much out there.

    Separately airplanes are starting to be grounded. Nancy/Dems are staying strong. Gonna be one of those Fridays.

  15. [15] 
    Paula wrote:

    Looks like an agreement has been reached, but only for 3 weeks?

  16. [16] 
    Paula wrote:

    Good twitter story about the Russian attack on DNC/Clinton campaign:

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    The pie references are Nypoet's feeble attempt to poke fun at One Demand. The pie (in the sky?) represents One demand and Big Cake is Big Money.

    It reminds me of the Partnership for a Drug Free America years ago. One of their first commercials said that one out of five people that tried cocaine became addicted thinking it would scare people into not trying cocaine. Most people that considered trying cocaine instead assumed they would be in the four out of five.

    When the PDFA realized they couldn't make rational arguments using facts they switched to symbolism with the this is your brain on drugs egg commercial.

    On a side note, they also ran an ad with kids saying they wanted to grow up to be cowboys , firemen, etc. and followed that with Nobody ever says they want to grow up to be a drug addict.

    This commercial actually inspired me to write the most popular song I wrote, called Famous Drug Addicts (not a lot of people heard it, but those that did really liked it.)

    It starts:
    Purple haze made Hendrix fly and
    cocaine took the Dead for a ride
    famous people and the drugs that they do
    I want to find a drug to make me famous too

    So I smoke a lotta weed
    I do coke and take off on speed
    famous people and the drugs that they do
    I want to be a famous drug addict too

    It goes on to mention Joplin, Edgar Allen Poe, Elvis and others.

    And despite it appearing to be a pro drug song, everyone except the Grateful Dead mentioned in the song was dead. And no one seemed to notice that it was clearly spelled out in the verse on Elvis.

    Elvis Presley, a druggist's delight
    he took more in day than I took in my life
    it wasn't drugs that made those critics rave
    but it sure was drugs that put him in his grave

  18. [18] 
    Paula wrote:

    Speaker Pelosi's next move should be to offer Blotus a SOTU date 4 or 5 weeks hence, after the expiration of the extension, contingent on the government still being open.

  19. [19] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Is it just me or did Trump reopen the Government to distract from the Stone indictment?

    It certainly fits with his pattern of distraction...

  20. [20] 
    John M wrote:

    No matter how you spin it, Trump has now caved twice. Once on the State of the Union and once on reopening the government with no border wall funding. Even Ann Coulter agrees. The new power in DC has now shifted to Pelosi.

    Stucki, we listen to ourselves apparently far more often than you ever listen to yourself.

  21. [21] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Don H

    Thanks for illuminating me, but turns out that's a loop I'm perfectly happy to BE out of.

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    don is just bitter that my idea is more popular after a few weeks of casual posting than his is after ten years of intense investment. the initial point was just to demonstrate that there are different relevant dimensions of public opinion, but after that the pie strategy just sort-of took on a life of its own.


  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    excellent suggestion.

  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:


    it looks like this week's contestant is roger stone.

    Well, well... that was a short-lived sealed indictment, unlike the others which remain thusly sealed... to date. Roger Stone, you say?

    Could you possibly mean the Roger Stone who was living with Roy Cohn at the time Roy introduced him to a young protégé of his by the name of Trump, whom Cohn adored and spent copious amounts of time mentoring yet was nevertheless abandoned by the Donald as Roy lay dying in a hospital bed from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in the mid 1980s, which for that and many other reasons rightly earned the nickname "Mr. Ingratitude" from their mutual friend Roger? That Roger Stone?

    Never heard of him. ;)

  25. [25] 
    Kick wrote:


    it looks like this week's contestant is roger stone.

    Well, well... that was a short-lived sealed indictment, unlike the others which remain thusly sealed... to date. Roger Stone, you say?

    Could you possibly mean the Roger Stone who was living with Roy Cohn at the time Roy introduced him to a young protégé of his by the name of Trump, whom Cohn adored and spent copious amounts of time mentoring yet was nevertheless abandoned by the Donald as Roy lay dying in a hospital bed from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in the mid 1980s, which for that and many other reasons rightly earned the nickname "Mr. Ingratitude" from their mutual friend Roger? That Roger Stone?

    Never heard of him. ;)

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