More than half a million Iraqis died during the Iraq War. So did nearly 5,000 American troops. The war strengthened the radical extremism it was supposed to fight while costing American taxpayers more than $2.4 trillion, much of which went to defense contractors like then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company Halliburton. And George W. Bush started the war based on the lie that Saddam Hussein was sitting on an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
But Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think that was impeachable.
In this video, Nancy Pelosi says that she knew George W Bush was lying to the public to start a war, but she did not feel this was an impeachable offense.
— cabral (@axcomrade) December 8, 2019
In footage from a CNN Town Hall, Pelosi said she knew that the infamous WMD-narrative created by the Bush administration wasn’t real. That’s unsettling on its own. But so is the candor and casualness with which she reveals it. Even on live television it doesn’t occur to Pelosi just how bad this answer sounds. She chalks up her passiveness in pursuing Bush’s impeachment to “not wanting to make [impeachment] a way of life” for Americans. Her decision to allow the president to continue an illegal war (started because of a lie she was aware of) was therefore rational because it spared us another impeachment debacle.
Pelosi’s reasoning doesn’t make sense—starting a war based on a coordinated public lie is illegal, and therefore more than enough grounds for impeachment. Her comments illustrate a core problem with the Democrats’ view of impeachment: presidents can only be impeached when they mess with the two-party system. Richard Nixon oversaw illegal bombing of Cambodia and aggressively ramped up American military presence in Vietnam, but was only impeached when his minions broke into the Watergate to steal Democratic documents. And despite Donald Trump’s rampant corruption, Pelosi et. al. only decided to go after him when he bribed a foreign government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 election opponent.
The admission lets slip Pelosi’s (and her party’s) adherence to foreign policy consensus. Many Democrats spoke out against the invasion of Iraq, but more than 39% Democratic representatives and 58% of Democratic senators voted for it (including Biden). They were surely privy to the WMD lie as Pelosi admits she was. She said she would’ve listened to the case for Bush’s impeachment over Iraq but it was almost certainly never a serious proposition.
Pelosi’s logic, though broken, has an odd connection to the present. Trump’s impeachment is easy to lose interest in because it’s an uber-specific offense tied directly to electoral politics. Democratic leadership said it was an easy issue for voters to understand. But it’s hard to imagine Trump’s quid pro quo is more difficult to comprehend than any of the innumerable impeachable offenses he’s already committed, from profiting off the presidency to his administration trying to start an illegal war of its own in Iran. Only when the Democratic Party’s standing (and frontrunning candidate) were threatened did Pelosi & co. find an issue on which to impeach Trump.
Resistance liberals idolize Nancy Pelosi because she’s branded herself as some sort of Trump stopper, withstanding his infantile rage and sarcastically clapping in his face. But Sunday’s video is a fresh reminder she’d sooner go after him for threatening her own power than starting a literal war.