Opinion: It’s time for us to save ourselves
“I pray for the president of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.”
• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
“… Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
• James 2:17
You almost felt sorry for Nancy Pelosi.
There was something poignant in seeing her driven to prayer by less than five minutes spent with the human catastrophe that is Donald Trump. But that’s what happened last week when Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went to the White House, ostensibly to speak with Trump about fixing the country’s decaying infrastructure.
They never got around to that. Trump, the same man who helped his son lie about meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton and allegedly paid hush money to women accusing him of sexual liaisons, the man who intimidates witnesses and stonewalls investigations, was in a snit because Pelosi had dared accuse him of being “engaged in a cover-up” earlier that day.
For the record, Pelosi was right. The average burqa doesn’t cover up like Trump does. Still, he is reported to have stormed angrily into the room without sitting or shaking hands and proceeded to have a hissy fit that Schumer said “would make your jaw drop,” then stormed back out. There followed a public temper tantrum in the Rose Garden where this 72-year-old boy declared he would not work with Democrats unless they dropped their “phony investigations.” Somehow, he refrained from vowing to hold his breath until he turned blue.
Keep in mind that pressure for impeachment was already building among Democrats. Even a lone Republican, Rep. Justin Amash, says it’s time to begin the process.
Pelosi had sought to resist this surging wave for what many observers speculate are political reasons, e.g., she doesn’t want to alienate Trump voters, she knows the GOP-controlled Senate will never go along, she doesn’t want to make Trump a “victim.” Such reasons might be persuasive in normal times.
These are not normal times. These are, with apologies to Thomas Paine, times that try men’s souls. And their faith. And their hope. More to the point, these are times that require the patriot to stand and be counted.
Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act, which required Senate approval for removal of certain office holders; he fired his secretary of war without getting it. Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for lying under oath about a consensual affair with a young intern.
If the House was able to rise up on its hind legs over such relatively trifling misdeeds, how can it remain supine in the face of the most lawless presidency in history? Its continued inaction sets a troubling precedent.
After all, Trump has lied, given succor to our enemies, spilled state secrets and obstructed justice in plain sight. If you cannot impeach this president for that now, what president can you impeach for anything, ever? Short of first-degree murder, what crime could some future president commit without being able to defend herself by pointing back to 2019, when Trump did worse and Congress only shrugged?
What’s on the line here, then, is bigger than Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi or even the 2020 election. What’s on the line here is the very rule of law, the DNA of America.
It is good that Pelosi invokes the power of prayer. But she’d do well to heed the gospel writer James on the futility of faith without action. Or as Benjamin Franklin famously put it: God helps those who help themselves.
Madame Speaker, it’s time for us to help ourselves. And save ourselves.
Impeach him now.
— Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald.