My first thought about this was that it would annoy Pelosi and Democratic leaders more than it would Trump. Wasn’t just me thinking it, either.
Many House Dems are unhappy with this @RashidaTlaib comment last night. Say it makes Dems look like they’re gonna impeach trump only for politics instead of letting the investigations speak for themselves, then deciding -> https://t.co/9yDdl0QiIr
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) January 4, 2019
Jerrold Nadler, the new head of the House Judiciary Committee, furrowed his brow for CNN this morning too:
.@RepJerryNadler, asked about Tlaib's profane call for Trump's impeachment, says "I don't like that language. More to the point, I disagree w/what she said. It's too early to talk about that intelligently. We have to follow the facts. That's why it's important to protect Mueller" pic.twitter.com/BrROxehDXw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 4, 2019
Democrats spent the past year downplaying impeachment, fearing that it would rally Republicans to Trump’s side and knowing that the politics of following through will be dicey even in their best-case scenario. They’d much prefer if events conspired to drive Trump’s job approval down another 10 points, rendering him unelectable in 2020, than to impeach him knowing that the Senate will vote against removal. Now here’s Tlaib undercutting that on day one, literally, of the new Congress, in an ostentatiously profane way.
But with the midterms safely past, maybe this isn’t so bad for Pelosi. She doesn’t need to start worrying again about Republicans rallying to Trump until next year. And the parts of her own base that are hungry to impeach him will be momentarily sated by Tlaib’s remark and Pelosi’s own soft-spoken defense of it below. Democratic leaders can play good cop on impeachment and Tlaib and the freshmen can play bad cop. Pelosi might even be able to use it as leverage when negotiating with POTUS. “These kids in my caucus are desperate to impeach you. I CAN’T HOLD THEM OFF MUCH LONGER … unless you agree to end this shutdown, in which case maybe that’ll soothe them for awhile.”
Plus, don’t forget: However much Nancy might want everyone to believe that her party’s “mandate” has to do with climate change or whatever, the obvious truth is that it was an anti-Trump backlash that propelled Democrats to victory in the House. She knows that. To come down hard on Tlaib would be to suggest, however lightly, that Dems might not be as much of a check on POTUS as voters were hoping. So Pelosi’s going easy on her.
On top of all that, it’s ludicrous for Nadler and other House Dems to worry that inflammatory language like Tlaib’s might convince people that Democrats’ push to impeach Trump is being driven by politics rather than scrupulously impartial concern for the rule of law. Of course it’s being driven partly by politics. The moment that impeachment gains real traction in the House, righty media will go to work 24/7 on making the case that raw partisanship and nothing else is what’s behind the effort to oust him. Tlaib made that easier for them with her comment, but there’ll be a robust case to support it whether or not the highlight reel includes any soundbites with the word “motherf***er.” It’s silly for Nadler to worry about it. Impeachment is partisan nuclear war by definition, at least in 2019 America. If that makes him queasy, don’t do it.