House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has done it before. Earlier this year, she called President Trump’s bluff, held tough and forced him to reopen the government after he shut it down over the wall. She has a knack for making Trump look especially peevish. So it was on Wednesday:
President Trump abruptly ended a meeting with Democratic leaders on Wednesday, saying he was unable to work with them on legislation following comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he was “engaged in a coverup.”
Trump made an unscheduled appearance in the Rose Garden shortly afterward and in a meandering 10-minute address said he had left the meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) at which they were supposed to talk about working together on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
Trump was apparently aggrieved that Pelosi accused him of conducting a coverup. The man who paid off Stormy Daniels to keep his extramarital affair quiet during the campaign insisted that “I don’t do coverups.”
Trump’s fit amounts to saying “I will NOT do my job so long as Congress is doing its job!” That’s what this amounts to, a confession of sorts that his legal stonewall strategy may not be sufficient and that his personal vulnerability is so great that he is unable to do his job. That would seem, well, grounds for impeachment. But while impeachment is unpopular, a president refusing to do things he promised to help voters because he is under investigation is even more unpopular.
In her comments to the media after Trump stalked out, Pelosi observed that maybe it was “lack of confidence on his part” that caused him to short-circuit infrastructure talks. “He just took a pass and it just makes me wonder why he did that,” she said. “In any event, I pray for the president of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.” She certainly knows how to rub it in.
However, she was not done. Appearing shortly afterward at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference, she recounted, “In an orchestrated, almost to an ‘oh, poor baby’ point of view. . . . [Trump] came into the room and said that I said that he was engaged in a coverup.” She continued, “It’s really sad.” As she put it, it was all “very, very, very strange.” For good measure, she added, "This president is obstructing justice and he’s engaged in a coverup. And that could be an impeachable offense.”
Whether Pelosi intended this result or not, her ability to treat Trump as a spoiled child and provoke even more self-destructive behavior has several positive benefits for Democrats in this context. First, it puts the blame for not accomplishing anything on infrastructure — or anything else — squarely on Trump’s shoulders. Second, he makes it nearly impossible for incumbent Republicans to run in 2020 on any record of accomplishment. The GOP will rightfully be called the do-nothing party. (Well, in fairness they do plenty — excusing Trump, enabling Trump, ignoring Trump’s wrongdoing, etc.) Third, it’s a preposterous position — what else will he refuse to do? — for someone who will be running for reelection in 2020. Fourth, more than anything, he has shown how panicked he is about investigations, thereby giving Pelosi the ability to talk to frustrated members of her caucus who want to start on impeachment the perfect comeback: We’ve got him on the run. Fifth, if they ever do get around to impeachment, Democrats can add another count against him: Refuses to do his job while lawful investigations are going on.
All in all, Pelosi once again demonstrated that the best person to deal with a weak narcissist prone to temper tantrums is a mother and grandmother.