Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi?

It’s probably also worth noting that Pelosi has been untouched by allegations of personal scandal, which is amazing given the right’s ability to manufacture such allegations out of thin air.

Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi?

What has Pelosi achieved?

First, as House minority leader, she played a crucial role in turning back George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security.

.. Then she was the key figure, arguably even more crucial than President Barack Obama, in passing the Affordable Care Act, which produced a spectacular fall in the number of uninsured Americans and has proved surprisingly robust even in the face of Trumpian sabotage.

She helped enact financial reform, which has turned out to be more vulnerable to being undermined, but still helped stabilize the economy and protected many Americans from fraud.

Pelosi also helped pass the Obama stimulus plan, which economists overwhelmingly agree mitigated job losses from the financial crisis, as well as playing a role in laying the foundation for a green energy revolution.

.. whenever you hear Republicans claim that Pelosi is some kind of wild-eyed leftist, ask yourself, what’s so radical about protecting retirement income, expanding health care and reining in runaway bankers?

It’s probably also worth noting that Pelosi has been untouched by allegations of personal scandal, which is amazing given the right’s ability to manufacture such allegations out of thin air.

How Congress Failed to Plan for Doomsday

What would happen if some crazed gunman or terrorist massacred Congress? We don’t really know—and that’s bad news for our democracy.

without the coincidental presence of Majority Whip Steve Scalise—there wouldn’t have been any Capitol Police presence, meaning no security to return fire and stop the shooter. “It would’ve been a massacre.”

.. if ever there were a mass slaughter of top members of Congress—a chemical or biological attack, or even a shooting incident that merely injured or incapacitated a large number of senators or representatives—business could come to a grinding halt and leave the House and Senate impotent for weeks or even months.

.. America’s continuing inability to rebuild Congress after a catastrophic attack is, one might say, supposed to be a feature, not a bug.

.. The men and women who have occupied the House leadership before Scalise have decided that they don’t want members to be easily replaced, even if preserving congressional traditions means that senators and representatives would be sidelined from post-disaster decision-making.

.. What if an attack incapacitated large numbers of senators and representatives without immediately killing them?

.. From the 1940s to 1962, as it wrestled with the issue of presidential succession, Congress saw more than 30 different proposed bills and constitutional amendments about what to do in the case of a mass death of its membership

.. The Senate .. had relatively clear constitutional policies about how to appoint interim senators to fill a vacancy. The House, though, had no clear way to reconstitute itself quickly

.. The House prides itself on the fact that every person who has ever set foot in the body has been duly elected by the people

.. Had United Flight 93 taken off on time, instead of 41 minutes late, and the passengers hadn’t had time to learn of the other attacks and storm the cockpit, the plane might very well have successfully continued to Washington and hit the Capitol building at about the same time as American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.

.. “With hundreds dead and perhaps hundreds of others in burn units in hospitals, Congress would likely have been without a quorum, without a building, without the ability to function,”

.. What if an attack wiped out the vast majority of the body? Would anyone want a subset of just a handful of representatives, perhaps just a dozen, score, or even a hundred, making sweeping decisions about declarations of war, new appropriations or the massive civil liberties curbs likely to be imposed following a large-scale attack?

.. In the case of the death of the president and vice president, a nine-member House could then elect a new Speaker, who would become president of the United States for the remainder of the term.

.. if the sitting vice president had been a victim of the incident as well, a new No. 2 could not be confirmed absent a House quorum, since both bodies have to confirm such a position.

.. Two years after 9/11, in 2003, its final report called for a new constitutional amendment to expedite special elections in the wake of an attack and to otherwise smooth the reestablishment of a devastated Congress.

.. One idea floated was that each member of Congress should designate his or her own list of successors in case of incapacitation

.. Every single proposal for congressional continuity was imperfect and troublesome in one aspect or another

.. Nevertheless, since the beginning of “continuity of government” planning during the Cold War, officials had successfully made just these types of trade-offs in other areas

.. they looked at it from their own narrow parochial perspective and it was, ‘I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this son of a bitch pick my successor!”

.. Speaker Hastert finally attached “continuity of Congress” legislation to an existing appropriations bill—a parliamentary move frowned upon in normal practice—and forced the Senate to accept it without amendment. The bill, which ultimately became law and remains in force today

.. it required states to hold “expedited” special elections within 49 days

.. Congress has effectively abdicated its responsibility to participate in the nation’s governance during the worst-case scenarios that could befall our country in the future

Predators in Arms

One excuse we’re now hearing is that the new revelations are qualitatively different — that disrespect for women is one thing, but boasting about sexual assault brings it to another level. It’s a weak defense, since Mr. Trump has in effect been promising violence against minorities all along. His insistence last week that the Central Park Five, who were exonerated by DNA evidence, were guilty and should have been executed was even worse than The Tape, but drew hardly any denunciations from his party.

.. And even if you consider sexual predation somehow uniquely unacceptable, you have to ask where all these pearl-clutching Republicans were back in August, when Roger Ailes — freshly fired from Fox News over horrifying evidence that he used his position to force women into sexual relationships — joined the Trump campaign as a senior adviser. Were there any protests at all from senior G.O.P. figures?

.. The latest scandal upset Republicans, when previous scandals didn’t, because the candidate’s campaign was already in free fall. You can even see it in the numbers: The probability of a House Republican jumping off the Trump train is strongly related to the Obama share of a district’s vote in 2012. That is, Republicans in competitive districts are outraged by Mr. Trump’s behavior; those in safe seats seem oddly indifferent.

.. But think about how much bigger that wave might have been if voters had known what we know now: that Dennis Hastert, who had been speaker of the House since 1999, himself had a long history of molesting teenage boys.

.. The G.O.P. is, or was until this election, a monolithic, hierarchical institution, in which powerful men could cover up their sins much better than they could in the far looser Democratic coalition.

.. We’re talking about a party that has long exploited white backlash to mobilize working-class voters, while enacting policies that actually hurt those voters but benefit the wealthy. Anyone participating in that scam — which is what it is — has to have the sense that politics is a sphere in which you can get away with a lot if you have the right connections. So in a way it’s not surprising if a disproportionate number of major players feel empowered to abuse their position.

.. many Republicans will try to pretend that he was a complete outlier, unrepresentative of the party. But he isn’t. He won the nomination fair and square, chosen by voters who had a pretty good idea of who he was. He had solid establishment support until very late in the game.

.. Mr. Trump, in other words, isn’t so much an anomaly as he is a pure distillation of his party’s modern essence.