House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has bully pulpit #2 in the United States right now. The “bully pulpit” is the quaint term President Teddy Roosevelt coined for the automatic access to public attention that the president of the United States commands.
Whatever his love of publicity, Donald Trump does not seem to have anticipated the problem that having the world’s best press access by dint of his new job meant that people would remember what he says from day to day and notice when that changes for no apparent reason and when his actions differ markedly from his promises.
Members of Congress have junior bully pulpits, especially the leaders of the two Houses. The president is the most visible figure in the federal government, but the leaders of Congress have enormous power, especially with their control over which bills come up for a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has mostly abdicated his because any sitting president is nominally the leader of his Party, and McConnell has tied himself so tightly to Party loyalty above all else that nothing he says much matters, except in the highly unlikely event that he disagrees publicly with Trump.
Nancy has bully pulpit #2 in the country right now.
What does she use it for? According to the mindless conformists at The Atlantic, we should all just follow Nancy because she is “skilled at shaping public opinion.” The claim is that she is bending this skill at the moment to achieving the right moment to impeach the president.
This is fatuous in the extreme.
What she is really doing is firing at her own members, trying to bully (!) them into submission, despite the obvious point that she owes her position as Speaker to the political energy that propelled many of the members she now disdains into their positions in the House.
It is regrettably not new for Democrats to use their political power in inept, cowardly ways, but it is depressing that they never seem to learn the lesson. Republicans have wielded far more power than their shopworn ideas merit for fifty years just by being wrong loudly and repeatedly.
Why so few Democrats can figure out that this strategy would work even better if they were right loudly and repeatedly is not clear. Unfortunately, especially in politics, being right alone has never won the day. If it did, African Americans would not have had to fight segregation for seventy years. The Civil War would never have occurred. We likely would never have had slavery at all.
Nancy needs to fight, and she needs to fight with the right people. Right now, she is fighting with the wrong people. Since she participates actively in them, we may assume that she thinks our political institutions are worth preserving. Right now, she is fighting a man who apparently has zero understanding of the institutions he is destroying, or the harm he will cause if he succeeds.
Pity Nancy is fighting the wrong people.