The normal transfer of bills from the House to the senate is usually an unceremonious process handled by any number of obscure clerks. Even the most momentous pieces of legislation go back and forth from the two chambers with little note. That was pretty much the case with the Articles of Impeachment that triggered a Senate trial for Presidents Nixon and Clinton.
This was not how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handled it. For purely political showmanship, she infused the process with every measure of pomp and ceremony imaginable – correction: beyond imagination. Perhaps it as all that news about the royal family in Britain that got Pelosi’s mind focusing on monarchical-style ritual.
It all started with a press conference in which she knighted seven members of the royal court to serve as ambassadors to the House of Lords – commissioned to plead the House of Commons’ case within the upper chamber. Pelosi called for yet another reading – and not the last – of the Article of Impeachment. It seemed more like a somber royal proclamation one might have seen associated with the beheading of a king in merry old England.
There was also a public signing of the Articles of Impeachment – complete with trays of golden pens inscribed on the shaft with Speaker Pelosi’s name in gold lettering. Each pen was used to sign one letter of her name in order to ensure that there would be a sufficient supply of souvenirs to hand out to her loyal subjects. (If you would like one of those pens, wait awhile. They will inevitably wind up on eBay.)
The signing ceremony was followed by a processional in which the Articles of Impeachment were silently carried as if they were some religious relic like the Holy Grail or the Arc of the Covenant. The relic … ooops, I mean the Articles … were not carried by the Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler – whose committee is constitutionally mandated to conduct all impeachments – or even Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff – who was inexplicably put in charge of the pre-impeachment public phase of the inquisition.
Rather the Articles were carried by Florida Congresswoman Val Demings — who holds the same rank as four other members of Congress and even less seniority than most. So, why Deming’s? It was blatantly obvious why Pelosi selected Demings. She is a black woman. It was a nod to the Democrats’ obsession for political correctness and special interest groups. For Pelosi, politics will always trump protocol.
The comical irony of the entire production was that the Senate was closed for the day when the ministers from the House arrived on the Senate side of the Capitol Building. There was no one to formally receive the Articles. They could have nailed them to the door of the Senate in the tradition of Martin Luther affixing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany in 1517 – but somehow, Pelosi overlooked that additional opportunity for hyper-pageantry.
Had the Pelosi spectacle been put to music, the delivery of the Articles of Impeachment from the House to the Senate would have made a great Gilbert and Sullivan production. In an effort to parody a parody, I would offer up new lyrics to a song from “Pirates of Penzance” – the iconic “Modern Major-General.”
We are the very model of modern manager’s political.
We pursue our duties seriously, even though they’re hypocritical.
We know the impeachment process, and can note the fights historical.
From Dick Nixon to Bill Clinton, in order categorical;
We are well acquitted, too, with matters that are criminal,
We see high crimes everywhere, even when they are minimal.
To the Brahmans of the Senate, we bring impeachment articles,
Even though there’ll be rejections to all the little particles.
We rise to accuse the President of abuses that are horrible
And those who should oppose us are among the most deplorable.
Whatever purpose Pelosi had in creating this comic opera, she has undermined the Democrats pretense of solemnity – and exposed the entire process for what it is — a partisan political farce.
So, there ‘tis.