In the annals of silly constitutional arguments, this one — from Nancy Pelosi — is tough to beat. It turns out that GOP statements about “checks and balances” aren’t so much referring to our nation’s bedrock constitutional structure as they are “code words.” Yes, code words:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested Wednesday that a GOP-led Congress could move to impeach Hillary Clinton if she is elected president, as they did to Bill Clinton in 1998.
Pelosi, D-Calif., said Republicans have hinted as much this election cycle by advocating for “checks and balances” in a divided government, which she said is a “code word for obstruction or something worse.”
Pelosi pointed to the GOP making a similar argument in 1996 when GOP presidential nominee Robert Dole appeared headed for defeat.
“When it became apparent he was not going to win, the Republicans started talking about checks and balances,” Pelosi said, recalling the Dole-Clinton race. “And you know what that translated into? Impeachment of the president of the United States.”
No, as a point of fact, what “translated” into impeachment was perjury. And she knows good and well that if Donald Trump was leading in the polls, she’d be all about asserting the necessity of checks and balances on the presidency. She’d be loving the separation of powers. But now? She’s apparently for Queen Hillary.
Senator Sasse is exactly right:
Those checks and balances are what separate our job as lawmakers from punditry or blind political cheerleading. Checks and balances aren’t code, they’re what give our constituents—the American people—a voice in a city full of unelected bureaucrats.
By the way, Pelosi’s use of the word “code” is key. After Trump is gone, look for Democrats to tie even the most conventional constitutional rhetoric back to something darker and more malevolent. Everything will be “code.” Everything will be a “dog whistle.” It’s a means of avoiding an argument — of capitalizing on suspicion and ill-will to misdirect from the merits. Why deal with assertions at face value when you claim to know what those evil Republicans really mean?