Nancy Pelosi beat George W. Bush during a standoff regarding Social Security, and she is going to beat Trump over his beloved border wall.
Editor’s Note: Samuel Warde is the editor-in-chief of Liberals Unite (recently re-branded as The Art of Living) as well as a contributor to Mindy Fischer, Writer. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. You can view a list of his articles here.
Vanity Fair has called her “the president’s chief antagonist.” Other’s refer her as “Trump’s worst nightmare.” Either way one wants to put it newly empowered Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a formidable force to be reckoned with for the White House.
The Atlantic reported on Wednesday that: “Democrats sometimes portray themselves as high-minded and naive—unwilling to play as rough as the GOP.” However, “Pelosi is, once again, proving that self-image wrong. She’s not only refusing Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall. She’s trying to cripple his presidency. And she may well succeed.”
The battle lines intensified on Wednesday. Citing security constraints from the government shutdown and a document from Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump asking him to reschedule the upcoming State of the Union Speech or deliver it in writing. [You can read her full letter by clicking this link.]
This, in turn, has led to a lot of speculation regarding who is going to ultimately prevail in this contest of will between Democrats and the White House.
However, As The Atlantic reported, Pelosi beat George W. Bush on the privatization of Social Security, and she will end up beating Trump on his border wall.
The Song Remains the Same
The New York Daily News reported this week that Trump has been operating under the illusion that he can control Pelosi.
Trump wanted Pelosi to be the speaker because she was a woman. He figured he could walk all over her. Trump was also armed by his delusional belief that he understood government and politics better than anyone in the world. And she wasn’t even a lawyer. (Trump has always been intimidated by lawyers.) When the time came, Trump would be ready for Nancy.
However, what he failed to remember — among many things he remains clueless about — is the fact that this isn’t Pelosi’s first rodeo.
As The Atlantic reported, Pelosi is using the same strategy with Trump that she used with Bush. After winning the 2004 election, Bush came to Washington D.C. intent on partially privatizing Social Security. The plan was two-fold. First, he had to convince the public that there was a crisis. Second, he had to persuade Democrats to box themselves into a corner by coming up with a proposal for fixing it.
The problem is — there was no crisis with Social Security and even if there was, partially privatizing the system would not remedy the situation. The same factors come into play in the current crisis. The New York Times reported last week: “This is more like a lull than a crisis. The number of people apprehended at the border remains near a 45-year low. From 1972 on, there were more apprehensions every single year than there were in 2017.”
That left part two of Bush’s plan: convincing Democrats to come up with a solution to his imagined crisis. Pelosi, then House Minority Leader, would not play his game. Asked when Democrats would offer their own proposals, she responded: “Never. Is never good enough for you?”
Bush pushed back by pointing out that Democrats had supported changes to Social Security in the past. Why not now?
Pundits pushed back calling Democrats hypocrites, but Pelosi held her ground. The Atlantic reported that:
Still, Pelosi, understanding that policy and politics are inseparable, did nothing. Irrespective of the merits of tweaking Social Security, she realized that offering Democratic proposals would divide her caucus and give Bush a political lifeline. Instead, she forced Americans to choose between Social Security as it was and Social Security privatization, maneuvering Bush into a battle that crippled his second term and laid the foundation for Democrats to retake the House in 2006.
Pelosi is employing that same do-nothing strategy with Trump. She is refusing to play his game and box Democrats into a corner. As per The Atlantic:
Pelosi knows that the alternative to Democratic compromise isn’t necessarily paralysis. It may be a Democratic triumph. Trump, like Bush, has picked a fight that is popular with conservatives but unpopular with the public at large. Most Americans don’t think there’s a border crisis, don’t support a border wall, and blame Trump for the shutdown. As a result, Republican members of Congress are under more political pressure to back down than their Democratic counterparts, and the longer the shutdown continues, the more that pressure should grow.
Although there is a case to be made for compromise, Pelosi is looking at a bigger picture. “The emasculation of the president,” is the goal as The Atlantic put it. “For years, Democrats have wondered when their leaders would start playing tough. Turns out Pelosi has been doing so all along.”
And if the past is any indication, Pelosi is destined to win. The New York Times detailed her showdown with Bush in an article published connecting to the 2018 midterm blue tsunami.
Pelosi knew, nothing would mollify her caucus like victory. In paving a road back to the majority [in the 2018 midterms], she returned to the playbook that worked for her last time. “The first thing we had to do in 2005 was take the president’s numbers down,” Pelosi told me, referring to Bush’s approval rating. “Bush was 57 percent in early 2005.” The moment Bush introduced the idea of partly privatizing Social Security, Pelosi’s Democrats pounced and began attacking the scheme as an assault on senior citizens. “His numbers came down to 38 in the fall,” she recalled, “and that’s when the retirements started to happen” — nervous Republican congressmen who decided to vacate their seats.