Issues & Insights

Is Pelosi’s Impeachment ‘Panic’ Merely More Sleight-of-Hand?

“I think the Democrats are in a total panic. (Tuesday) was a very, very bad day for Democrats …” – U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“Can’t you understand what’s happening here? Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling. Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicky and he’s not. That’s why. He’s pickin’ up some bargains.”  George Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

One initially sympathizes with Sen. Cruz’s perspective. Everyday America met the Democrats’ monumentally partisan impeachment with a collective yawn, even as the initiative drove up the chief executive’s approval ratings and re-election poll numbers.

Then, seemingly five minutes after completing the unseemly act of ramming through two nothing-burger impeachment articles, Speaker Nancy Pelosi abruptly indicated she would delay their delivery to the Senate – a decision that seemed, to put it mildly, insane.

Had Donald Trump finally pulled off with the wily Democratic leader what he has with so many other antagonists – knocked her not only off-balance, but completely off her rocker? Again, this correspondent mulled that very conclusion – and many readers probably did as well.

Fooled you again. How often have you been cautioned in this very space not to underestimate a parliamentary wizard who acquired her black arts at the knee of her father, also a member of Congress and big-city Mayor, and at the sharp elbow of the legendary legislative tactician, Phil Burton?

Who has survived countless runs at her leadership, schooled the president in the shutdown showdown, and stifled the Squad?

And most important, was the true architect of Obamacare (and yes, she knew bloody well what was in it before they passed it), which has survived challenge upon challenge, in the courts and Congress, to weave itself inextricably into our social and political fabric?

The conservative cognoscenti in particular, including the junior senator from the Lone Star state, thought Madame Speaker was selling impeachment – and panicking when it failed.

But maybe she’s not selling. Just perhaps, she’s buying – and using her sleight-of-hand as a legislative illusionist to use the distraction of impeachment to pick up some Christmas bargains for her wide range of constituencies, through a run not on the bank, but on the taxpayer’s wallet.

Why? Because she recognized the one really panicking was a president on the lookout for wins to offset the sting (however minor) of the lower body’s rebuke.

Less than half a calendar day after the impeachment vote, the Speaker was before the media crowing about pending House passage of the NAFTA-substitute U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

No wonder. The San Francisco Democrat had laden the original agreement with stocking stuffers for her friends, such as strengthened country-of-origin rules – like requiring that up to 45% of autos be manufactured in countries paying autoworkers at least $16 an hour – pro-union Mexican reforms, and removal of protections for biologic drug manufacturers.

How complete was the USMCA rout for the Speaker? One clue was AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka publicly taking a bow for the new provisions in the pact, setting conservatives’ teeth on edge. Even plainer evidence? Her alleged claim in a closed-door meeting of her caucus on the negotiations with the Administration: “We ate their lunch.”

But USMCA was hardly Ms. Pelosi’s only plum. In a defense bill, she wrangled a generous 12 weeks of paid parental leave for government bureaucrats (read: unions) – described by the Washington Post as “the biggest expansion for federal workers in nearly three decades.”

Meanwhile, Congress was closing in on agreement on a $1.4 trillion, 2,313-page goodie bag bill, care of Santa Nancy, that the aforementioned Senator Cruz was rightly condemning as indicating that “Christmas came early in Washington for lobbyists,” and Rep. Chip Roy as having been produced by “swamp creatures.”

The legislation, yet another bloated “continuing resolution” of the kind President Trump previously promised never again to sign, not only blows past any semblance of spending limits. It fully funds liberal priorities such as corporate welfare, gun control measures, Planned Parenthood and allegedly, abortion through Obamacare plans – while skimping on a border wall.

Might there even be a dollop of prestidigitation in the sly lawmaker’s otherwise puzzling postponement of progress on impeachment? What better way of satisfying her base’s blood lust for the president’s scalp, smearing him with the stain of censure for election season, but then making the whole sordid affair disappear – poof – as if it never happened?

Nah. Couldn’t be. Madame Speaker isn’t that enchanting a sorceress. Or is she?

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Bob Maistros

Bob Maistros, a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs, and was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, three U.S. Senators, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at


  • To borrow a phrase from the Creationists, all Pelosi’s triumphs are ‘micro’, i.e. they ensure her political longevity rather than the common weal’s macro.

  • OK, Doomer. But, didn’t Trump get $1.4 billion for the Wall?
    What happened to “Not one dollar” Nancy?

  • Both sides get something from agreements or they would not be made. Trump can tout his trade agreements that he promised (albeit not the ones he would have liked). The defense department got the 738 billion he wanted while the cost of family leave that Pelosi wanted is mostly down the road He got a perhaps token funding for the wall but enough he can claim he is not just maintaining old wall but building new sections as he had promised. This will help his reelection and you can be sure that Pelosi will not like that but her red district Democrats are at least given a bone or two to keep them quiet.

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