Presidential historian Jon Meacham wondered during a Wednesday night appearance on MSNBC’s "Hardball" why the Republicans are treating President Trump like a king: "How did they become monarchists? Cause basically what they’re arguing that the president is acting in a kingly fashion and that’s okay."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: History is being made tonight, and, John, I want to talk to you about one idea about focus. The old line was, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." That's a pretty close range! It seems to me that Pelosi has figured out after all these months of haggling with the left, the center did not want to impeach, the left did. Finally, she found an opportunity for close engagement with Trump on an issue where he was questioning, well, you could argue he was betraying the national trust.
JON MEACHAM: Yeah, this is Lexington and Concord for her. She made a very carefully calibrated decision, but I don't want to just talk about the Speaker's decision in raw political terms. I think at some point we have to take people at their word, and I think the Democrats, the ranking member made fun of or attacked the chairman for this -- but this is a solemn moment. It is difficult.
We do this once every 60 years in this country. Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and varying degrees of seriousness, varying degrees of political divisiveness. But it's an important moment, and it was the ultimate check put on the executive.
I think the Speaker has done a wonderful job, not simply tactically, but strategically, in defense of the Constitution. Because I think that one day, Republicans --if they ever choose to have a reckoning about this-- will have to figure out is: how did they become the monarchical party? How did they become monarchists? Because that’s what they’re basically arguing, is that the president is acting in a kingly fashion, and that's OK. And you know what? We’ve been fighting over this for 242 years.
This is as if the High Federalists are back somehow. One of Thomas Paine's most important insights in Common Sense, arguably one of the most important things originally rendered in English in terms of our revolution. People asked where is the king of America? The king of America is above where the law is. And it is about the law not simply about the man. Whether the members and senators are going to be able to hear that music, I don't know. But here's hoping they do.