Why Pelosi understands the impeachment question better than her new "superstar" colleagues

Last week, when we discussed a meeting Speaker Pelosi called on the subject of impeachment, I had been coming around to the idea that she was going to cave to pressure from the rest of her caucus and open up impeachment hearings. The Speaker managed to surprise me yet again when she held firm and resisted the calls from House Democrats and 2020 candidates to get moving on an effort to “dump Trump.” Pelosi is doggedly sticking to a plan to have her party campaign on issues and not just opposition to the President.

The WaPo had a good story over the weekend about an appearance she made in the suburbs of Philadelphia last week where that strategy was on display. She took the stage with two freshmen Democrats who have both been beating the impeachment drum. But over the course of the evening, a discussion on education policy stayed on track and the President was barely an afterthought.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has pushed back against impeaching President Trump, shared a stage Friday with two freshman Democrats who favor launching an inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.

Any divisions were hardly evident at a planned discussion on college affordability and debt relief from student loans. In fact, few in attendance focused on impeachment or even Trump.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) emphasized the value of education, saying that “nothing brings more money to the treasury than investing in education,” primarily public education opportunities. “It’s about people reaching their self-fulfillment and being able to economically lift their lives,” she said.

Talking about education isn’t something particularly new. It’s something Democrats run on every cycle, along with climate change, gun control and social justice issues, and it doesn’t seem to drag the electorate particularly far in either direction. But as Pelosi knows all too well, it’s still better than talking about impeaching Donald Trump.

First of all, there is little political capital to be gained by starting a fight that you know in advance you are going to lose… and lose badly. Cocaine Mitch already came out and announced that the impeachment circus would enjoy a very short run if it shows up in the Senate. Constitutionally, the Senate has to take up the case if the House passes it, but McConnell can make sure that it’s a very brief affair that moves quickly to a vote that will fall far short of the 67 members they would need to oust the President.

On top of that, people just seem to be sick of hearing about impeachment and investigations. This entire effort to undo the 2016 election has been dragging on for so long now that most of the country appears to be exhausted, and possibly just tuning it all out. That seemed to be on display during Pelosi’s appearance I linked above. Nobody on the panel brought it up. Nobody in the audience did either. They wanted to talk about something substantial.

So why do we keep seeing The “I” Word every day? Because the press remains woefully out of touch with what’s going on out there on Main Street. All you need to do is perform a quick search of your news feeds and you’ll find any number of blaring headlines demanding the Democrats move forward on impeachment. And why not? It drives clicks and attracts eyeballs because it’s so outrageous. And meanwhile, it’s looking more and more as if Pelosi is right about one thing. Donald Trump is pretty much daring her to try it. It’s probably his quickest path to another four years in office.

Nancy Pelosi knows all of this. But it’s a lesson that her new freshmen are slow in picking up on.