Thursday, December 05, 2019

Punch Up, Not Down

"I don't hate him. I am quite fond of him, actually" might have seemed a little too sarcastic. "I don't hate him, nor do I dislike eating him up and spitting him out whenever I have the privilege of talking to him" might have been too honest for a public accustomed to Donald Trump's lies, over-sensitivity of public figures, and politically correct language from right, left, and center.

Nonetheless, there must have been a better approach than when

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi minced no words with a reporter Thursday who asked at the end of a press conference if she hates President Trump. Pelosi called the president "a coward" and "cruel," but she said she still prays for him — and she warned the reporter, "Don't mess with me."

As Pelosi walked out of her weekly press conference — soon after announcing that the Democrat-controlled House will begin drafting impeachment articles against Mr. Trump — Sinclair Broadcasting reporter James Rosen called out, "Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?"

Nancy Pelosi, occupying arguably the third most important position in the USA government, thus picked a fight with a reporter or, rather, allowed him to pick one with her.  It should be beneath the Speaker of the House to elevate a reporter, especially one with the loathsome Sinclair. Still

The question stopped Pelosi in her tracks. She turned to face Rosen directly.

"I don't hate anybody," she said, pointing at him. "I don't hate anybody. Not anybody in the world."

Rosen pushed back on Pelosi saying he had "accused" her of hating the president. He pointed out that Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia) claimed during Wednesday's impeachment hearing that Democrats want to impeach the president simply because they don't like him.

Pelosi then returned to her podium.

"I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence," she said. "I think he is cruel when he doesn't deal with helping our Dreamers, of which we are very proud. I think he's in denial about the climate crisis."

Donald Trump is a coward, and it's a message Democrats should pound much more frequently.  However, if gun violence is to be Pelosi's example- and there are others more indicative of cowardice- the cowardice lies in obeisance to the National Rifle Association.  And why she and her Democratic colleagues are very proud of the Dreamers, however righteous their cause, is a mystery.  The climate crisis is critical, but has little or nothing to do with either immigrants or murders by firearm. (In a very broad sense, there is the impact of climate upon refugee movements, a global issue requiring extensive explanation.) Then

But those issues, she said, can be resolved in an election. She argued the impeachment process was about the Constitution and the president allegedly violating his oath of office.

"As a Catholic, I resent you're using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me," Pelosi said. "I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and always pray for the president. And I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time."

 "So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that," she concluded. She then left the room.

Regrettably, Speaker Pelosi made the issue about her: "so don't mess with me...," she warned.  The first word people associate with Nancy Pelosi is not "love" and no one thinks she prays for the President. Even if true, it's not believable.

She needed to stay on message, and that message is not "Pelosi" but "Trump." Maybe that message should have been the cruelty of separating children from their parents as policy; or that of subjecting 700,000 people to hunger, disease, and even to death by throwing them off food stamps; or perhaps of inviting ISIS to exterminate our Kurdish allies in northern Syria.

Or it could be cowardice, such as giving vetoes: Putin and Erdogan over American foreign policy, the gun lobby on gun safety, pro-life extremists over women's reproductive choices, or well-heeled lobbyists on tax policy. The latter works well with a cruelty theme also, in which the middle- and working-classes are sacrificed for the rich.

Emphasize only one theme and let the fact-checkers nitpick, however legitimately, over the details of the charges. As Donald Trump understands better than anyone, the message is repeated over and over by the mainstream media, alternative media, and social media and has a far greater impact than any attempt at refutation.

James Rosen's question- actually, a charge, as Pelosi understood- was a diversion from issues. However, it also was a hanging curve and an opportunity wasted while the rule of law and the constitutional principle of checks and balances are at great risk.

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