Home ›› 25 Nov 2022 ›› Editorial
The resignation of Nancy Pelosi, from the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives, second in line to the presidency, marks the end of an era in US politics. Pelosi led House Democrats for almost 20 years, and as she said in her farewell remarks, scored significant accomplishments with Republican president George W Bush and Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Missing from her list was Donald Trump. She achieved nothing with him, and the only noteworthy legislation passed during his tenure was a major tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest. Pelosi will be remembered for confronting Trump in a televised meeting about his efforts to shut down the government to coerce funding for his border wall, and tearing up the text of his 2000 “state of the union” speech to Congress, which she called a “manifesto of mistruths”.
She will be handing leadership of House Democrats to her deputy, Hakeem Jeffries, who she has prepared for several years. His capacity to take over her effective leadership role remains untested but promising.
That cannot be said for the presumptive incoming Republican Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who has apparently kowtowed to extreme party elements to gain the position, even including notorious Georgia radical Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene was removed from committee assignments after she seemed to threaten the lives of Democrats, along with numerous violent, racist and anti-Semitic tirades. McCarthy says he will respond by excluding from committees several leading Democrats, including the Somali-American congresswoman Ilhan Omar, along with Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff.
While Omar and Swalwell have made provocative comments, none are remotely comparable to the explicitly violent rhetoric of Greene. But the incoming narrow Republican House majority appears driven by payback, whether or not it makes any sense.
Although extreme Republicans were defeated in the midterm, and those who won promised to focus on “kitchen table” issues like inflation and crime, incoming House Republican leaders have vowed to focus on investigating Biden’s son, Hunter, who has never been a government official, along with the Department of Justice and FBI investigations of Trump.
There are legitimate oversight issues, including the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and shambles at the border. Republicans often include these legitimate issues on their list of grievances, but they seem more interested in attacking Biden’s family and defending Trump than actually interrogating flawed policies or execution.
This may well play into the hands of Democrats. They insist they have developed a sophisticated and robust set of counterattack strategies, and they will control the Senate, most likely with an additional seat after the Georgia runoff in December. Biden, as I noted in these pages in November 2021, can use the House Republican majority as a foil against which to run for reelection in 2024. His chances look extremely good under current circutances.
The best news for him arguably was the announcement last week that Trump is officially, once again, a candidate for president. This historically unprecedentedly early announcement was unmistakably an effort to seek political protection against likely forthcoming major criminal charges from the Justice Department.
Attorney General Merrick Garland immediately responded by appointing a special counsel, career prosecutor Jack Smith, to lead two vital investigations into Trump over pilfered government documents as well as the wide-ranging effort to overturn the 2020 election.