Who Better Represents Americans on Impeachment, Nancy Pelosi—or Donald Trump? | Opinion

Since the release of the Mueller Report House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's been straddling a thin tightrope, caught between most of her caucus, who want President Donald Trump removed from office through any means at their disposal, and most of America, which has grown tired of the whole thing.

Of late, the momentum has been shifting in Trump's favor, making Pelosi's challenge more difficult. Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that post-report, the public's attitude has shifted in his favor.

Prior to the release of Mueller's findings, Rasmussen says, "a plurality of voters consistently believed President Trump should be impeached and removed from office." Now, he says, those actions are backed by just 41 percent of those queried in his latest survey while 45 percent "disagree." Nonetheless, the Democrats in Congress, with a wink and a nod from Pelosi, continue to plow ahead.

As of now, there are at least a dozen and probably more investigations into the president's conduct, the findings of the Mueller Report, his business activities, and his tax records. He's not far off the mark when he suggests this kind of scrutiny is unprecedented, at least in most of our lifetimes. And as he indicated Wednesday when he cut the rope out from underneath Pelosi, he's fed up.

Instead of meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., at the White House to negotiate out a $2 trillion infrastructure package that could potentially put tens of thousands of Americans to work in good paying jobs, Trump went into the Rose Garden for an impromptu press conference. There he accused Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress of refusing to negotiate in good faith so long as they pursued their investigations of him, his businesses, and members of his family.

Pelosi and others dismissed it, and Trump's threat to refuse to move forward on anything bipartisan if the investigations continue, calling it a temper tantrum. Maybe. Or maybe we just witnessed an incredible act of political jujutsu.

While Trump stands firm, and we know he can, Pelosi can't stick to the middle. She's got to decide to between being a "good cop" and getting on with the people's business to protect the Democrats sitting in moderate, suburban seats they took away from the Republican in 2018 to make a new majority, or she's a "bad cop" on the side of most of her caucus and her senior leadership. She either reins in Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and other chairman and subcommittee chairmen leading investigations and grilling empty chairs, or she pushes ahead to work with Trump on the suburban priorities her new members need to lighten their trek to re-election next November.

Absent evidence of real misdeeds the country has no stomach for impeachment or for removing the president from office. The Republicans found that out in the 1998 midterm election when, instead of picking up 30 seats in the House as they expected after the Clinton impeachment, they lost five. The defeat was so devastating it ultimately led House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who'd led the Republicans to victory after 40 years in the wilderness to leave Congress entirely.

Pelosi's got to understand, no matter how much editorial support she has from the nation's newspapers and cable anchors and chat show hosts, she's holding a losing hand. The economy is booming. More people are working than ever before. Unemployment numbers are at or near the lowest they've ever been among critical demographic groups like black men, Hispanics, and women. And inflation's nowhere to be seen, contrary to what the Phillips Curve and other factually discredited but still ideologically influential economic theories hold.

Trump's opponents had hopes early in the week a GOP snowball might have begun rolling down Capitol Hill after Michigan GOP Congressman Justin Amash become the first major elected official to state a belief the president was guilty of impeachable offenses. A member of the Freedom Caucus, his comments were seen at first as a break in the red line integral to the White House's defensive strategy. But no one followed him, at least no one of any import. Even Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee and potential Trump foe, seemed to say Amash overstepped.

That seems to be the way it's playing out by week's end. Amash has already drawn one primary challenger and lost the support of the influential DeVos family. Yes, Betsy DeVos is a member of the cabinet but almost nothing happens in Michigan Republican politics without the consent of her extended family—making the decision to dump Amash on the ash heap something more than simple payback from a member of the president's immediate circle.

Suburban voters aren't as ideological as those in rural or urban areas. That's why they're the people who decide big elections – they're more concerned with results and getting things done. As Merle and Earl Black demonstrated in their book The Rise of Southern Republicans when suburban Democrats start voting like national Democrats they lose. That's got to be on the mind of every new member of the House in Pelosi's party and on the Speaker's. Their voters used 2018 to send a message to Trump. They might use 2020 to send a message to Pelosi. If they feel they have to, she probably isn't going to like it what it says.

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. He can be reached by email at RoffColumns@GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

Who Better Represents Americans on Impeachment, Nancy Pelosi—or Donald Trump? | Opinion | Opinion