A strange but true fact that I learned today from a Politico reporter: Unlike most other business in the House, because impeachment is “privileged” any single member can force a floor vote on whether to take it up. Normally the Speaker gets to decide what comes to the floor and what doesn’t; a rare exception to that is a discharge petition, but that requires the support of 218 members. Impeachment is different. If Al Green, or anyone else, wants to tell Pelosi that he’s tired of waiting around for her to get serious about this, apparently he can force the issue.
He’s ready to force it after Trump’s “go back to where you came from” tweets about Ilhan Omar and the “Squad.”
“To tolerate bigotry when you can do something about bigotry is to perpetuate it,” Green said in an interview Monday. “I will not tolerate the level of bigotry emanating from the president, especially in policy.”
The House voted 364 to 58 in December 2017, with Republicans in the majority, on a motion to table Green’s previous impeachment push. Green said Monday that things have changed: “I have had enough. I believe a good many of my colleagues have had enough. We’ll find out how many. And I think the American people are fed up with this behavior . . . This is the only place, by the way, where the president can be checked. There’s no other place.”…
“This deals with our original sin — it deals with the hatred and bigotry that has developed through the years for people of color, for members of the LGBTQ community, the trans community, those who are of the Islamic faith, those who are of the Jewish faith. It’s about people who have been marginalized and how we cannot allow the president of the United States to . . . fuel the flame of confusion as it relates to this level of bigotry.”
So there’s yet another reason why Pelosi’s decision to vote on a resolution condemning Trump for the tweets is a no-brainer. If she doesn’t offer her caucus some way to denounce Trump short of impeachment, some may feel obliged to proceed with Green’s impeachment articles. And there’d be no good outcome for Dems from that vote. The motion to proceed with impeachment wouldn’t pass, but if it drew a surprisingly large amount of support the GOP could use it as turnout fuel for the election. (“The Democratic mania to remove the president from office is getting worse!”) Even if it didn’t draw much support, it’d be an embarrassment to Pelosi personally to have her caucus voting on something as radical as opening debate on impeachment against her wishes. Worse, as Politico notes, tepid Democratic support would let Trump boast that he’d been cleared by the House. Her best option to sideline Green is to float her own, lesser resolution condemning POTUS, ask Dems to line up behind that one instead, and hope Green gives up.
And the sooner the better, I think. Dem aides had hinted earlier that they were in no rush to bring the denunciation to the floor for a vote, preferring to let this play out in the press and watch Republicans snipe at each other. But the longer it drags out, the greater the risk that Trump will up the ante somehow, more Dems will get angry, and Green’s attempt to open impeachment proceedings will gain support. AOC and the “Squad” are apt to shoot their mouths off too about this, and as the two sides egg each other on, the risk that it’ll get out of Pelosi’s control will increase. Which is fine if she thinks this issue is a pure winner for Dems! But it probably isn’t, and Pelosi’s not the sort of ideologue prone to thinking that any dispute, especially a culture-war dispute, is all upside for her own team. She’s cautious. I think she’ll call the vote soon and try to move past this.
Over at NRO today, Charles Cooke tried to untangle the legal and moral threads here. Legally, he notes, of course it’s true that Ilhan Omar has the same right as any other citizen to criticize her country and shouldn’t be asked to leave because it makes someone else unhappy. Morally, however, it’s also true that her critics are entitled to think she’s an ingrate for obsessing over what she perceives to be America’s failures after the country quite literally saved her life.
The United States saved her from a warzone, let her stay, accepted her as a citizen, and then elected her to Congress. If one can’t be grateful for that, what can one be grateful for?…
It is absolutely reasonable for them to consider her an ingrate — or to believe, as David does, that she is “a toxic presence in American politics.” And it is absolutely reasonable for them to wonder aloud how a person who hails from a dysfunctional, dangerous place built atop dysfunctional, dangerous institutions can exhibit the temerity — the sheer gall — to talk about America in the way that she does. There is a big difference between saying “I oppose current federal tax policy” or “I want more spending on colleges” or “the president is an ass,” and saying that America needs complete rethinking. As this Washington Post piece makes clear, Omar isn’t just irritated by a few things. She thinks the place is a disaster.
The irony of Trump’s tweets singling out her and the Squad for their backgrounds is that most of the loudest voices out there who share their ideological affliction don’t share their backgrounds. Oodles of white native-born American citizens on the DSA’s membership rolls agree with all four corners of Ilhan Omar’s platform. (That was one of the nastier knocks on AOC during the Democratic barroom brawl this weekend, in fact, that she’s supposedly a convenient minority spokeswoman for a movement that tends to be extremely white in make-up.) Progressivism in practice typically means not just recognizing the country’s social and economic problems, not just demanding redress, but staring into that flame until you no longer detect the ambient light from the country’s virtues. Omar’s relentless in her criticism because blindness is a sign of devotion. Imagine how hard and how long you need to stare into the flame for everything else to go completely dark.
Via the Free Beacon, here she is a few days ago winning over the Nutroots by doing the traditional progressive two-step: It’s only because I love America so very, very much that I must seek to transform it from top to bottom.