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Elections

Nancy Pelosi’s Wow! Signal

To impeach the president is to prove his enemies can make words mean so many different things.


- December 20th, 2019
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If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants to retain her gavel, she should use her megaphone.

She should speak into her papier-mâché trumpet, so she may change sets before viewers change the channel. She should change the story to fit the season, or switch the plot and production, because Frank Capra’s most political film is his least popular movie to watch the week before Christmas. 

She should switch genres and screenwriters, forgoing the fiction of justice for the drama of science fiction; delivering us from her cathedral of law to her church of reason, where a man who looks like a ghost—a worker before an array of machines—receives a signal from the Very Large Array: the 28 radio telescopes that face the heavens, that point to the stars like a dowser, that form a gigantic divining rod.

Cut to the man running from the artificial lights of his windowless room to the natural light of the outdoors, so he may welcome the arrival of an intergalactic diplomat and an 8-foot-tall robot.

Before this emissary of peace introduces himself, the man hands him a tattered and (coffee-) stained note. A word flashes on-screen: Wow!

As the paper falls to the ground and rolls across the pavement like a ball of urban tumbleweed, as the camera pans to a monolith of green glass—as the United Nations Secretariat Building comes into view—the man struggles to answer the alien’s question about the impeachment of President Trump. 

The man stammers until he ties his tongue in more knots than “The Knotted Gun,” a sculpture of a pistol with a twisted barrel. 

Beside this monument to nonviolence, in the shadow of a building that is a safe house for the world’s most violent criminals, words mean whatever the president’s enemies choose them to mean.

To impeach the president is to prove his enemies can make words mean so many different things.

To say the president has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve, to say he is a bogus prophet of an empty faith, to say all of these things in a column, is to repeat what columnists for the New York Times say almost every day. 

To say the president is a louse and a master of lies is to believe Frank Bruni is right. To say he is a dreadful leader plus a greedy crook is to second what Gail Collins writes. To say he is an erratic, pompous, dangerous simpleton is to believe Bret Stephens is smart.

To vandalize words—to manage the whole lot—is to say there is little intelligent life on Earth; and none on Capitol Hill.

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