WASHINGTON — Here in the capital madhouse, the House speaker cuts through it all in plain English: "He's just not worth it." The leader made clear her disdain for impeaching President Donald Trump. The process has to start in the House, so there you have it.
What was chilling about California Democrat Nancy Pelosi's comment was her unstated power. She was saying that if she deigned it worth the time, impeachment would be no problem. Her five words were just enough to drive Trump crazier. But for now, the speaker's schedule is too busy, and she has better things to do.
That's true. The House of Representatives is like the little engine that could, passing major bills and chugging up the mountain ahead of schedule.
The House makes the Senate look like a slow train on loan from a railroad-age museum. The Republican-controlled Chamber has put off voting on Trump's national emergency declaration, remember that? Pelosi's House voted against it ages ago. Forced to vote this week, the Senate may show its first sign of gumption against the president and narrowly defeat his latest wall ploy with a handful of Republicans joining 47 Democrats.
That would be called a rebuke, but Trump doesn't know the meaning of the word.
As for the president, he feels stuck in the Middle Ages, still set on his medieval wall along the southern border. The latest news is, Trump defiantly added $8.6 million to his budget request to build sections of the wall, which includes defense construction spending.
The president just can't let go, even after a 35-day government shutdown. He hates to lose to a woman so publicly, especially since Pelosi held her new energized caucus and emerged the victor of the standoff over the wall.
In fact, Pelosi may be the only politician in Washington who ever got the better of Trump. Republicans quake at the sound of his speech. That plain fact may account for his endless quest. The wall is not about the wall anymore. It's about winning a battle with a woman.
Now, ready for a dizzying recital?
The speaker revived the Dreamer legislation for young immigrants Trump scorned; passed a campaign finance and ethics reform bill; and backed renewal of the lapsed Violence Against Women Act. She also refereed a resolution against ethnic and racial hatred, sparked by a private clash among Democrats. The fury was started by a freshman congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who made rash remarks that smacked of anti-Semitism. Pelosi generously refused to have Omar named in the resolution, though she deserved it.
The sweetest victory was passing a gun control bill on background checks. "Yesterday was a big day," Pelosi said to reporters, beaming at the stand against the National Rifle Association.
Personally, I noticed that Pelosi, 78, was once packed and ready to travel to Afghanistan when Trump grounded her military plane. Afghanistan is a place the president has never been. She was leading a congressional delegation.
In another rebuke to "America First" Trump, the speaker invited NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint meeting of Congress in April. Does Trump know his name?
The industrious House Democrats, the most diverse majority ever, are being led by a woman who gets up early every morning to show Trump what resistance looks like. He never had any during his first two years, 2017 and 2018.
Oh, did I mention the House hearings with his former lawyer Michael Cohen?
By contrast, the lazy Senate is letting the days go by. The place has a Southern accent.
Even if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., loses his iron lock on his caucus, he's meanwhile loading the federal judiciary with right-wing judges — nearly every day. Sometimes two a day. That's his gift to building the party's future. McConnell finds Trump's rambles a bit reckless and wishes he'd stay on the reservation. He warned Trump a government shutdown would feel like a second kick of a mule (a Kentucky thing).
Note Republican silence on the scurrilous stuff churning from the White House: Trump's claim that the Democratic Party is "anti-Jewish."
That leads to fear that Trump is truly off the wall.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit the website, creators.com.