Read between Nancy Pelosi’s lines

When Nancy Pelosi talks about the House’s oversight of President Trump, it is important to understand exactly what she is saying. Last year’s blue wave gave the Democrats a sorely needed majority in the House of Representatives which made oversight possible. In the short time that has elapsed since Pelosi took the gavel for her second time as speaker, we have seen the House’s investigatory wheels shed their rust and start cranking again.

When Speaker Pelosi answered questions about impeachment in a recent interview with The Washington Post, one particular phrase about Trump grabbed headlines: “He’s just not worth it.” It is not surprising that the media chose to feature this phrase because it is indeed catchy. But if you did not get a chance to read past the headlines, you might have the wrong impression of what is going on. Taken out of context, this phrase lends itself to misinterpretation about Pelosi’s impeachment musings in two ways that do not reflect what she actually said.

First, “He’s just not worth it” by itself can come across as an aloof cop-out filled with attitude. In other words, that phrase can imply that Pelosi realizes impeachment will never be possible so she is resorting to making a weird case that somehow Trump is so horrible that they just cannot be bothered. Another misinterpretation of that lone phrase is that Pelosi is simply expressing surrender. “He’s just not worth it” can be read as a depressing admission that it will never make sense to pursue impeachment because the case will always be weak.

Fortunately, none of these interpretations seem realistic if you read Pelosi’s entire quote. Responding to a question about recent calls for impeachment, Pelosi told the interviewer, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”

Pelosi’s complete answer gives her catchy phrase some important context, painting a clearer picture. Pelosi simply expressed the idea that impeachment is a potentially harmful process that should never be rushed into. More importantly, she made it clear that if investigations turn up things that people across the aisle consider to be bombshells, then impeachment will be on the table. Finally, in case there was any doubt that her views about Trump’s presidency may be softening, Pelosi swiftly removed them. Later in the interview, she slammed Trump for being “ethically,” “intellectually,” and “curiosity-wise” unfit to be president of the United States.

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