It might actually be a good thing that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House right now

Retraction, July 18, 2019: Events have transpired that force me to acknowledge that the faith I have placed in Nancy Pelosi was foolishly misplaced. Consider this the Democratic Party’s last chance and that, with me, they have now absolutely blown it. There is no merit or legitimacy to be found in this party which I now refer to as the neoliberal party.[1]

I know. You never thought I’d say this—hell, I never thought I’d say this—but I think Nancy Pelosi might actually be the right person to take down Donald Trump over his border wall.

To begin, I need to be clear about some things:

  1. In general, I see Pelosi as part of a major problem, a bipartisan neoconservative, neoliberal consensus adopted in U.S. politics following the fall of the Berlin Wall, that has exacerbated social inequality and seemingly locked us in endless wars.[2]
  2. I reject the implicit notion that gender equality means that women should emulate men. Men and women are—obviously—biologically different and in society, gender roles have typically been assigned to women that accordingly devalued both women and caring.[3] We need to revalue and valorize caring and—this is especially important in this post—we need to value the insights that men and women have into each other.

Recently, Jennifer Rubin wrote a column[4] which, for me, ever so gently, evoked a memory of Molly Ivins who, at least in my mind, had a magnificent talent for skewering powerful masculine egos, shaming men in part by attacking their really very fragile masculinity.

Ivins seemed, to me at least and at the time, to have just the right touch. Push too hard and you get a lot more explicit misogyny of the sort we saw when, for example, Trump attacked Megyn Kelly for having actually dared to ask questions he didn’t like, saying “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her… wherever.”[5] Trump’s remarks were despicable and I think, certainly in hindsight, indicative of just how frail Trump’s ego really is, which is to say, a lot more frail even than that of most powerful men.

It’s hard to know how Ivins would handle Trump. I’d want a front row seat—or maybe one well back at a safer distance. But the fact is, women know a lot about men, in a way the oppressed always know their oppressors. And older women—ding me here if you want, but I’m going to say age and experience are assets—often know it even better.

So now, we have a terrible situation where the federal government has been partially shut down for a record-breaking length of time, workers are missing their paychecks, and lots of things that we take for granted aren’t happening because Trump insists on money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and Pelosi is saying no.[6] And the huge question that nobody has an answer for is how—okay, I’m being bad here—this Mexican standoff[7] ends. As Molly Ball explains, neither can afford to lose.[8]

It is not in question that the shutdown will end—it surely must. And most of the pundits and other journalists I see seem to think Pelosi has the upper hand.[9] I think they’re right, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Yes, Pelosi has been playing this game for a long time while Trump is a relative newcomer. And yes, the facts do not support building the wall.[10] And yes, Trump is an absolute fucking idiot.

But Trump is also a delusional raging narcissist.[11] He has invested his ego and in his presidency in the wall. Ball is right: He can’t back down.[12] That means the end to this standoff—assuming that Pelosi does indeed prevail—will be very, very, very ugly.

A psychologist I know has told me privately he believes Trump will resign. Both of us have been surprised his presidency has lasted this long, but I haven’t been able to see how to reconcile a resignation with Trump’s ego. I’ve thought the ego simply wouldn’t permit it. And to some poorly known degree, Trump’s delusions shield that ego from the cognitive dissonance that should precipitate a check-in with reality.

This is where an older woman—no man can do this—is invaluable. Pelosi might have to play a little dirty and I certainly wouldn’t put it past her to do so. But I’m guessing she can find a way to utterly humiliate Trump.

Remember that she doesn’t just have facts and basic humanity on her side in this issue. There is a larger picture that includes multiple investigations into Trump, his organization, and his campaign.[13] It turns out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Robert Mueller have been investigating Trump, the president of the United States, as a possible Russian ‘asset.’[14] It not might be treason because we aren’t in a shooting war with Russia but it is simply inconceivable that a U.S. president can be compromised in the way that the FBI seems to have suspected. He will have to resign if this is in fact the case and House Democrats now have the authority to subpoena Mueller’s report and evidence.

Pelosi isn’t just holding the upper hand here. She very likely has a royal flush or something approaching it. And she doesn’t even have to wait for Mueller to finish his investigation. She’ll likely have leverage over Trump long before that.

The end will be explosive. There will be no wall and Trump will have no choice but to resign. How he handles that as an individual is a question I’ll leave for psychologists. But we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “A retraction: I now support impeachment,” July 18, 2019,
  2. [2]Sami J. Karam, “Capitalism Did Not Win the Cold War,” Foreign Affairs, July 19, 2017,; Melvyn P. Leffler, “The Free Market Did Not Bring Down the Berlin Wall,” Foreign Policy, November 7, 2014,
  3. [3]Riane Eisler, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics (San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler, 2007).
  4. [4]Jennifer Rubin, “Pelosi knows the magic word for beating Trump: ‘No,’” Washington Post, January 10, 2019,
  5. [5]Donald Trump, quoted in Jonathan Allen, “Donald Trump’s new misogynistic low: Fox’s Kelly had ‘blood coming out of her … wherever’,” Vox, August 7, 2015,
  6. [6]Jon Allsop, “The challenges of covering a shutdown marked by lies,” Columbia Journalism Review, January 7, 2019,; Peter Baker, “Trump’s National Address Escalates Border Wall Fight,” New York Times, January 8, 2019,; Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Natalie Andrews, “Trump Walks Out of Shutdown Talks, Calls Them ‘Total Waste of Time,’” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2019,; Ed Pilkington, “Trump tours border after repeating threat to call national emergency,” Guardian, January 10, 2019,
  7. [7]Urban Dictionary, “Mexican Standoff,” n.d.,
  8. [8]Molly Ball, “Trump and Pelosi Are Locked in Their First Battle. Neither Can Afford to Lose,” Time, January 10, 2019,
  9. [9]David Frum, “Trump Has Defeated Himself,” Atlantic, January 8, 2019,; David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim, “‘He’s a gut politician’: Trump’s go-to negotiating tactics aren’t working in shutdown standoff,” Washington Post, January 9, 2019,; Jennifer Rubin, “Here’s the problem with only pitching to your craziest supporters,” Washington Post, January 9, 2019,; Jennifer Rubin, “Pelosi knows the magic word for beating Trump: ‘No,’” Washington Post, January 10, 2019,
  10. [10]Salvador Rizzo, “Fact-checking President Trump’s Oval Office address on immigration,” Washington Post, January 9, 2018,
  11. [11]That Donald Trump is delusional should not be in question. For the raging narcissist part, see George Simon, who brilliantly describes Trump without even once naming him in “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counseling Resource, July 24, 2017,
  12. [12]Molly Ball, “Trump and Pelosi Are Locked in Their First Battle. Neither Can Afford to Lose,” Time, January 10, 2019,
  13. [13]Michael Avenatti, “The Case for Indicting the President,” New York Times, September 13, 2018,; Michael Brice-Saddler, “Congress will have to ‘start impeachment’ process after Cohen filings, former Nixon counsel says,” Washington Post, December 8, 2018,; Jordan Fabian and Morgan Chalfant, “Trump’s legal woes worsen,” Hill, December 15, 2018,; Adam Serwer, “Trump’s Troubles Are Just Getting Started,” Atlantic, August 23, 2018,
  14. [14]Jonathan Chait, “Mueller Is Investigating Trump as a Russian Asset,” New York, January 12, 2019,

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