House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should not have ripped up her copy of the State of the Union speech earlier this month. It was wrong of her to do it. But I digress.
This is in response to a column written by Lt. Gen. Marvin Covault (ret.) that appeared in the Feb. 12 edition of The Pilot. He is a very strong supporter of the president. He is entitled to his beliefs, as is everyone else. What he is not entitled to, however, is twisting the facts.
Gen. Covault focused on the president’s State of the Union speech and the speaker’s opposition to that speech. One should keep in mind that while the Constitution requires the president to provide Congress and the American people with his annual assessment of the country, it is not mandatory to do so in a joint session of the Congress. He must first be invited to speak to the Congress, an invitation that can only be extended by the speaker, which it was in January. He is a guest of the House. He hardly acted like a guest.
The general indicated that the president was factual for the full 82-minute speech. Rather than list the 20 to 30 examples of how this is not true, I invite any reader to Google any recognized fact-checking organization and inquire as to the speech. PolitiFact, NPR or Politico would be three sources. You will find that there were many misstatements, exaggerations, twisted statements and, yes, mistruths uttered by the president regarding everything from energy production to the economy to foreign affairs.
My focus, however, is Covault’s criticism of Pelosi. While she may be controversial, to not recognize her as one of the strongest speakers ever elected is to expose one’s naivete. You may not like her or her politics, but she is a strong leader of congressional Democrats and one of the most politically astute speakers in modern history.
Last spring, Pelosi made a statement, cited by Covault, indicating her opposition to any impeachment of the president “unless there was something so compelling, so overwhelming and so bipartisan in support of the impeachment process.” One should note that she was referring to the Mueller investigation, for which there was no impeachment resolution considered by the House. Her statement was not in response to Trump’s abuse of power phone call on July 25 to the president of Ukraine. However, once that call was made, and once the facts unraveled, the House had no choice but to begin impeachment proceedings. In fact, it was its duty.
Of course, there was no way the president was going to be found guilty by those lemmings in the Senate, including Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, and thus removed from office, but the House moved on impeachment because it was the right thing to do.
As for Speaker Pelosi’s reactions to the president’s speech, Covault was wrong by implying she “sat on her hands” not applauding for the accomplishments of the guests of the president. Apart from awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh for reasons totally unknown, the speaker did applaud each instance. The president made a mockery of what has become a tradition of inviting guests to his speech, but Pelosi and the Democrats still recognized them, except for Rush Limbaugh. Awarding the nation’s highest civilian honor to someone who has only further divided this country is wrong and diminishes the great accomplishments and humanitarian efforts of the other recipients.
As for what Covault calls “unforgivable behavior” by Pelosi, let’s also look at the president. He flat-out rejected her extended hand to shake. Further, the Republican members of the House chanted “four more years” like they were in a political rally. This was totally wrong and against any decorum of the House. Nevertheless, not a word of condemnation from Covault. Trump and the Republicans can do no wrong in his eyes.
In answer to Covault’s two questions at the end of his diatribe, both can be answered “yes.” Lowering prescription drug prices, improving health care, providing gun safety legislation, protecting our elections from foreign influence and protecting the environment are all examples of legislation passed by the House under Pelosi’s leadership since January 2019 and that lie on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s desk waiting for him to do something other than renaming post offices and approving federal judge nominees. And, yes, General, to be clear, I do love our country more than I dislike the president.
But I have a question for Covault and those of his ilk. Is there no limit to the president’s lying, his deceit, his acts of revenge and recrimination, his destruction of great institutions of our country that you will not accept? Or, are you willing, as Trump himself said, to let him “shoot someone on 5th Avenue and never lose a vote?”
There is a lot of blame to go around for what is wrong with this country. No one has clean hands here. But to disavow any wrongdoing on the part of the president is nothing more than blind loyalty with no substance.
Jim Hart, of Pinehurst, spent 38 years in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist and chief of staff to four U.S. congressmen.