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NY Times Op-Ed So Scared Of A President Nancy Pelosi Plot Twist It Already Killed Off Mike Pence

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Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

Nancy Pelosi is the only Democrat not actually running for president, but Jesse Wegman at the New York Times is throwing himself in front of her powerful stilettos. He declared in an op-ed yesterday that NANCY PELOSI SHOULD NOT BE PRESIDENT. Calm down, sir. There's no evidence, despite right-wing freak outs, that Pelosi even wants the office Donald Trump stank up. And if she did, she's no small-town mayor, crystal-waving kook, or recent heart-attack sufferer, so what's the problem?

Are men so afraid of a woman president that a serious publication like the Times is going to waste space fretting over the Powerball odds of Pelosi taking the oath of office? Yeah, that was a rhetorical question. The photo illustration for Wegman's op-ed is a closeup of Pelosi's heels like she's the femme fatale from the hardboiled novel She Slithered In With The San Francisco Fog.

Really?The New York Times

We get it. The lady likes to work the heels. But this is the New York Times not Shoe Fetish Daily. You should show us Salome's face.


Consider the following scenario, which would have seemed wildly implausible only a few months ago: Donald Trump is forced from office over the Ukraine-Biden shakedown. Vice President Mike Pence takes over, and before he can name his own vice president, he is impeached and removed for his own role in the scandal. The nation is now led by … President Nancy Pelosi.

Why the fuck would I "consider" this scenario? It's incredibly stupid. It took forever, plus Trump and his administration confessing publicly to assorted crimes, for us to get this close to impeachment. We're not going to try and convict Mike Pence that quickly. He's not a woman who had a consensual sexual relationship. Even if the bottom fell out for Mother's little helper, Pence would have more than enough time to select his vice president. Nikki Haley is on speed dial and has her swearing-in outfit already cleaned and pressed. Congress would quickly confirm her because she's a mammal. President Pelosi is the dream of many Democrats and the bed-wetting nightmare of Republicans everywhere, but it's not going to happen.

It's true: Under a 1947 federal law, the speaker of the House is second in line to the presidency, after the vice president, even if she or he is of a different party than the president. How can that be?

Because the speaker is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the legislative branch. "Checks and balances" is a constitutional concept that ensures no individual branch of government becomes too powerful. After Pelosi is Chuck Grassley, the president pro tempore of the Senate. After that, it's mostly Trivial Pursuit question territory.

Wikipedia

Take a look at that pack of partisan hacks and collection of Trump-selected cronies. Reasonable people should worry more about Betsy DeVos as the nation's "designated survivor" than about Pelosi assuming the presidency. But the one Democrat in the list really upsets Wegman.

Don't the American people choose presidents largely because of their parties?

Uh, what? I bet he's just going to breeze past this statement as though it's incontrovertible fact.

Yes, they do, which is why the prospect of Ms. Pelosi, the veteran San Francisco Democrat, sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the middle of a Republican administration should trouble anyone who values stability and democratic legitimacy.

OK, but it's not a Republican administration anymore. That's the whole point. If Republicans value "stability and democratic legitimacy" so much, they should consider not electing crooks who are removed during their first terms in office.

Fifty-three percent of voters in 2018 chose to put the House back in Democratic control. They knew that Pelosi would reclaim her gavel. And if they took a civics class at some point, they knew that Pelosi was now second in line to the presidency. Unlike Trump's election, this result is what a majority of Americans wanted. Democrats crushed Republicans' gerrymandered advantage to take back the House with a margin of 8.6 percent and almost 10 million votes. Pelosi has a mandate. Trump had the Electoral College. He "won" with almost three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton.

The possibility is freighted with enough drama that it was the subject of an episode of "The West Wing" back in 2003. When President Jed Bartlet, a Democrat, steps aside temporarily to deal with a family crisis, the vice presidency happens to be vacant, so the job of acting president falls to the speaker, a Republican.

A very serious New York Times op-ed just compared the real-life Nancy Pelosi to a fictional character played by John Goodman.

(Yes, in 2016 the Democratic presidential nominee won nearly three million more votes nationwide than the Republican nominee, giving both parties an arguable claim to be Americans' true choice. That's a topic for another day.)

No, it's not. Whatever point Wegman's trying to make -- one totally not rooted in castration anxiety -- is rendered moot if the actual American people are not only just fine with Pelosi becoming president but overwhelming voted to make that a possibility (including some former Trump supporters). Wegman points out that only 300,000 people in Pelosi's district elected her, but that's disingenuous since Republicans spent millions of dollars on ads so that millions of voters would know she was the Democratic leader. They tried to make the midterms about her. They still lost.

Wegman cites Dwight Eisenhower, who said, "I believe that if the electorate says that such-and-such a party should have the White House for four years, it ought to have the White House for four years." That's an appeal to rank partisanship, which as we see daily is a stain on democracy. I prefer Harry Truman's assertion that, aside from the vice president, the president shouldn't have the right to directly select their immediate successors.

I don't buy the argument that Pelosi leading impeachment is a "conflict of interest" because she stands to benefit from Trump's removal. Republicans are more likely to gain from not having Trump on the ballot next year, especially if Pence has a young woman of color as his running mate.

Wegman argues that there are "many intractable problems in American politics, but the presidential succession law isn't one of them." I don't think he'd have suggested this if Kevin McCarthy was speaker during the email-related impeachment of President Hillary Clinton. There's also no way that McCarthy or Paul Ryan or any male speaker, not even the child-molesting one, would've voluntarily helped pass a law to remove them from power. Apparently that's only what Lady-American speakers of the House should do. It's so typical. Abolishing the undemocratic Electoral College is a "topic for another day" because that only kept a woman out of the White House. But the infinitesimal chance that a woman might become president as a result of a male president's corruption is something we must act on immediately. Forget the male president's lawlessness. We have to MAN THE LEGISLATION! Quite literally.

[The New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.

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