If you’re wondering what political savviness looks like in its most brilliant form, you need look no further than what Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi just managed to pull off against Donald Trump and the House Republicans. She just won a chess match against GOP House leaders like Kevin McCarthy and Doug Collins, who were busy trying to figure out how to play checkers.
It all started when House Democrats decided to introduce a resolution today to formally condemn Donald Trump over his racist attacks on four Democratic Congresswomen. Someone was going to have to violate House rules of civility in order to introduce the resolution, which (accurately) disparaged the sitting President of the United States by calling him a racist. Nancy Pelosi decided that she would be the one to do it, which sent the House GOP into a panic.
House GOP leaders brought the proceedings to a halt while they made the argument that Pelosi had violated House rules – and the parliamentarian ended up agreeing with them, ruling that Pelosi wouldn’t be allowed to speak on the House floor for the rest of the day. But then House Democrats voted to keep Pelosi’s remarks intact as part of the official record. Then they voted to restore Pelosi’s right to speak. Then they passed the resolution condemning Trump. So what did Pelosi accomplish here?
First, by turning the whole thing into a chaotic spectacle, Nancy Pelosi ensured that the resolution condemning Donald Trump’s racism will get as much attention as possible, which is the entire point. Second, by inserting herself like she did, Pelosi has ensured that non-political Americans will see this as a battle between her and Trump, as opposed to a battle between Trump and the four freshman Congresswomen. This matters because Pelosi is more popular and respected by the American middle than either Trump or the freshmen.
Third, Pelosi just forced every House Republican to commit to voting “yes” or “no” on whether Donald Trump is a racist. Four House Republicans (and former GOP Justin Amash) ended up voting that Trump is a racist, meaning Trump will surely begin attacking them, thus bringing even more attention to the resolution in question. Several House Republicans in moderate districts voted that Trump is not a racist, which means that their Democratic opponents can use it against them in the 2020 election.