Commentary Magazine


Topic: Nancy Pelosi

The Left’s Intellectual and Moral Corruption

Back in January 2009, at the dawn of the Age of Obama, I made four predictions, the first of which was this 

while Obama is riding high, race relations will be excellent. But once Obama goes down in the polls and he does things that elicit criticism, be prepared for the “race card” to be played. If it is, then race relations could be set back, because the charges will be so transparently false. If race was used by Obamacons against Bill Clinton, it will certainly be used against Republicans.

And so it has. Consider just the past few weeks. Representative Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was asked by CNN’s Candy Crowley, “Do you think your Republican colleagues are racists?” To which Israel replied, “Not all of them, no. Of course not. But to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism.”

When Representative Paul Ryan made the perfectly obvious observation that there’s a real culture problem plaguing America’s inner cities, Representative Barbara Lee issued a statement saying, “My colleague, Congressman Ryan’s comments about inner city poverty are thinly-veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated.”

Last week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blamed race issues for the GOP’s failure to act on comprehensive immigration legislation. “I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill,” she told reporters at her regular weekly press conference.

On and on it goes, to the point that the charge has been used so promiscuously and indiscriminately used that it is virtually meaningless. It tells you something about the modern left’s desperation that they invoke the racism charge so recklessly. It also provides us with a glimpse into the deep intellectual and moral corruption that has occurred. Many progressives seem to thrive on ad hominem attacks; it is the first response they reach for.

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Back in January 2009, at the dawn of the Age of Obama, I made four predictions, the first of which was this 

while Obama is riding high, race relations will be excellent. But once Obama goes down in the polls and he does things that elicit criticism, be prepared for the “race card” to be played. If it is, then race relations could be set back, because the charges will be so transparently false. If race was used by Obamacons against Bill Clinton, it will certainly be used against Republicans.

And so it has. Consider just the past few weeks. Representative Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was asked by CNN’s Candy Crowley, “Do you think your Republican colleagues are racists?” To which Israel replied, “Not all of them, no. Of course not. But to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism.”

When Representative Paul Ryan made the perfectly obvious observation that there’s a real culture problem plaguing America’s inner cities, Representative Barbara Lee issued a statement saying, “My colleague, Congressman Ryan’s comments about inner city poverty are thinly-veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated.”

Last week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blamed race issues for the GOP’s failure to act on comprehensive immigration legislation. “I think race has something to do with the fact that they’re not bringing up an immigration bill,” she told reporters at her regular weekly press conference.

On and on it goes, to the point that the charge has been used so promiscuously and indiscriminately used that it is virtually meaningless. It tells you something about the modern left’s desperation that they invoke the racism charge so recklessly. It also provides us with a glimpse into the deep intellectual and moral corruption that has occurred. Many progressives seem to thrive on ad hominem attacks; it is the first response they reach for.

We saw it with the forced resignation of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich because a half-dozen years ago he supported an effort by California citizens to prevent the redefinition of traditional marriage, thereby making him (in the eyes of some on the left) a bigot. We’ve seen it as well with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly attacking the Koch brothers for being “un-American” and accusing Mitt Romney of not paying income taxes; with allies of President Obama accusing Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign of being responsible for the cancer-related death of a steel worker’s wife; with Vice President Biden saying Republicans want to put African-Americans “back in chains;” and with Mr. Obama accusing Republicans of being “social Darwinists,” of putting their party ahead of their country, of wanting dirty air and dirty water, and of wanting autistic and Down syndrome children to “fend for themselves.”

I have no idea whether those making these charges are being incredibly cynical or whether they’ve actually convinced themselves that those with whom they disagree, simply because they disagree, must be malignant. Whatever the explanation, the eagerness for any political movement, whatever its philosophy, to demonize rather than engage in an honest debate has an acidic effect on our civic and political culture. To be sure, no political party, and neither the left nor the right, have a monopoly on virtue. (It would help if more people were willing to call out those on their own side when lines of decency and propriety have been crossed.) In addition, politics has been a contact sport since our founding. (For more, see the brutal election of 1800 between Jefferson and Adams.) Still, we can do better, much better than we are; and for the sake of our country, we really should. 

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Conservative Vulgarity Isn’t Cool

Conservatives have had good reason to cry foul in recent years about the way liberals and Democrats have treated them. Though liberals still speak as if incivility in politics is a Republican invention as well as something they have a monopoly on, the instances of Democratic demonization of their opponents are numerous. Liberals such as Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz blamed conservatives for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by an apolitical lunatic on a climate of right-wing intolerance. Liberals have likened the Tea Party to Hezbollah, opponents of new gun-control measures to murderers, and reform-minded governors like Scott Walker to Hitler. They also demeaned 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a sexist manner that would have been considered a hate crime had it been done to a Democrat.

So when Democrats cry foul over attacks on their leaders, most conservatives are inclined to ignore it or to merely say something about hypocrisy and payback. That’s a mistake. Call me old school if you like but I’ve always felt that part of being a conservative was an expectation that those who take part in public life should behave like ladies and gentlemen. So don’t count me among those who are snickering at the outrage being expressed by some liberals about a Breitbart ad campaign that superimposes the face of Nancy Pelosi on a photo of Miley Cyrus in a bikini doing her twerk thing. I think Pelosi represents just about everything that is wrong about the contemporary Democratic Party and its congressional leadership, but the picture is vulgar and crosses a line that serious people shouldn’t approach let alone leap over.

Though this hardly rises to the level of a national crisis, I’m always troubled when conservatives succumb to the temptation of sinking to the level of their opponents because of the way it lowers the tone of our already vulgarized popular culture. But it is also a mistake for anybody on the right to feed into the Democratic playbook about sexism and the faux “war on women” they have used successfully to scare female voters into opposing the GOP.

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Conservatives have had good reason to cry foul in recent years about the way liberals and Democrats have treated them. Though liberals still speak as if incivility in politics is a Republican invention as well as something they have a monopoly on, the instances of Democratic demonization of their opponents are numerous. Liberals such as Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz blamed conservatives for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by an apolitical lunatic on a climate of right-wing intolerance. Liberals have likened the Tea Party to Hezbollah, opponents of new gun-control measures to murderers, and reform-minded governors like Scott Walker to Hitler. They also demeaned 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a sexist manner that would have been considered a hate crime had it been done to a Democrat.

So when Democrats cry foul over attacks on their leaders, most conservatives are inclined to ignore it or to merely say something about hypocrisy and payback. That’s a mistake. Call me old school if you like but I’ve always felt that part of being a conservative was an expectation that those who take part in public life should behave like ladies and gentlemen. So don’t count me among those who are snickering at the outrage being expressed by some liberals about a Breitbart ad campaign that superimposes the face of Nancy Pelosi on a photo of Miley Cyrus in a bikini doing her twerk thing. I think Pelosi represents just about everything that is wrong about the contemporary Democratic Party and its congressional leadership, but the picture is vulgar and crosses a line that serious people shouldn’t approach let alone leap over.

Though this hardly rises to the level of a national crisis, I’m always troubled when conservatives succumb to the temptation of sinking to the level of their opponents because of the way it lowers the tone of our already vulgarized popular culture. But it is also a mistake for anybody on the right to feed into the Democratic playbook about sexism and the faux “war on women” they have used successfully to scare female voters into opposing the GOP.

One can defend the Breitbart ads, which also spoof Jerry Brown and Mark Zuckerberg with similarly foolish photoshopped images and are intended to promote their new West Coast politics site, as being all in good fun. The site’s founder, the sorely missed Andrew Breitbart, sought to boldly challenge the left on its own cultural turf with envelope-pushing work that sometimes raised eyebrows but always had a strong political point. Moreover, as many on the right have pointed out, a similar and perhaps even more vulgar depiction of House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Michele Bachmann was used in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch last year lampooning the government shutdown starring none other than the same Miley Cyrus. The silence from the left about that travesty was deafening.

The impulse to fight fire with fire with such things is understandable, but if conservatives wish to preserve what is good about our society and to turn back the efforts of the left to further degrade our culture and civilization, it’s hard to see how putting Pelosi’s face on Cyrus’s body advances that goal.

As for the political impact of any efforts by conservatives that feed into the false narrative of a Republican war on women, there’s no doubt that a double standard is at play here. The same people who think nothing of degrading Palin or Bachmann immediately shift into full outrage mode when someone does the same to Pelosi. But that doesn’t give anyone on the right license to behave in a similar fashion. Respect for women and disgust at attempts to demean them with highly sexualized images should be integral to the conservative worldview.

Efforts by conservatives to compete with the left for the hipster vote are bound to fail. Even worse, they feed the same cultural trends that conservatives should be resisting rather than mimicking. As Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld points out in his new polemic Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You, the impetus to be “cool” undermines the conservative values that are the foundation of American greatness. He’s right about that. Call me square if you like, but I think conservatives should be equally appalled about trashing Pelosi in this manner as they were about the liberal assault on Palin.

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Jon Stewart (Literally) Laughs at Pelosi

If you want to do yourself a favor, set aside eight minutes to watch Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart interview House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Ms. Pelosi is so programmed and evasive–her answers are so obviously partisan, non-responsive, and unimpressive–that several times Stewart literally laughs in her face, most especially when she admits she has no idea why the ObamaCare website failed so miserably. (When discussing the backlog at the Veterans Administration and the failures of it and the Defense Department to communicate with each other, Pelosi conceded it was a terrible problem. “OK, do something about it,” Pelosi concludes. To which Stewart quipped, “I was actually going to say that to you.”) 

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If you want to do yourself a favor, set aside eight minutes to watch Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart interview House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Ms. Pelosi is so programmed and evasive–her answers are so obviously partisan, non-responsive, and unimpressive–that several times Stewart literally laughs in her face, most especially when she admits she has no idea why the ObamaCare website failed so miserably. (When discussing the backlog at the Veterans Administration and the failures of it and the Defense Department to communicate with each other, Pelosi conceded it was a terrible problem. “OK, do something about it,” Pelosi concludes. To which Stewart quipped, “I was actually going to say that to you.”) 

Jon Stewart is liberal, but he’s intellectually honest enough to (respectfully) challenge those who share his progressive beliefs, at least from time to time. For Ms. Pelosi to do so poorly while being interviewed by a man of the left tells you a great deal about her, but also something about how intellectually bankrupt leading Democrats are.

When liberals like Nancy Pelosi act in a way that embarrasses Jon Stewart, you know they’re in a fair amount of trouble. 

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Remember Bashar the Reformer?

Bashar al-Assad is in the running for the most dangerous man in the world. There are not too many world leaders who would acquire such reserves of chemical weapons and then seek to use them against anyone, let alone civilians. While the U.S. military conducts lessons-learned exercises all the time in order to learn from their mistakes and make themselves a more effective force, I am not aware of a single time in which the State Department or senior U.S. government officials have acknowledged error and conducted a similar lessons-learned exercise to identify where they went wrong.

Let’s hope that, if they ever start, they consider how the Syrian regime pulled the wool over their eyes. Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad may have spent some time in the West, but just because Islamists and autocrats spend time in the West does not mean that they acquire Western values; instead, they learn only how to speak to Westerners and cultivate useful idiots.

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Bashar al-Assad is in the running for the most dangerous man in the world. There are not too many world leaders who would acquire such reserves of chemical weapons and then seek to use them against anyone, let alone civilians. While the U.S. military conducts lessons-learned exercises all the time in order to learn from their mistakes and make themselves a more effective force, I am not aware of a single time in which the State Department or senior U.S. government officials have acknowledged error and conducted a similar lessons-learned exercise to identify where they went wrong.

Let’s hope that, if they ever start, they consider how the Syrian regime pulled the wool over their eyes. Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad may have spent some time in the West, but just because Islamists and autocrats spend time in the West does not mean that they acquire Western values; instead, they learn only how to speak to Westerners and cultivate useful idiots.

At any rate, here are some blasts from the past, American officials who for ego or because of animosity toward George W. Bush did their best to end Assad’s isolation. It’s always fun to read their statements reporting Assad’s willingness to solve mutual problems.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), who took time out to tour the markets to maximum benefit for Syrian state television.
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), more John Kerry, and even more John Kerry. That second story reminds how the Obama administration once went so far as to give Syria spare parts for its planes.
  • Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who seems to have relished his defiance of Bush.
  • The late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), at the time still a Republican, might have acted as a tour guide: His trip with Nelson and Kerry was his 16th taxpayer-funded trip to Damascus, and it was not his last.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may not have gone herself, but she used her senate colleagues’ experience meeting Assad to justify her description of him as a reformer. “There’s a different leader in Syria now,” she told CBS’s Face the Nation, explaining, “Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”
  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) spent nearly $8,000 on two trips to Damascus, while Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) spent nearly twice that, according to Legistorm.
  • Gen. David Petraeus repeatedly asked President George W. Bush for permission to go tête-à-tête with Assad in Damascus; let’s be glad Bush said no, both because it saved Petraeus the embarrassment and denied Assad a propaganda coup.

Perhaps in this age of budget-cutting, it would be useful to ask Pelosi, Kerry, and Nelson—all of whom still serve publicly—about what in hindsight they see as the value of their trips to Syria, and someone might ask Clinton which is more important: the established and brutal record of dictators, or what they happen to tell her colleagues in his palace over tea and coffee.

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Democrats Still Spinning Their Wheels on Gun Control

Yesterday, as Nancy Pelosi insisted the Democrats had not “lost momentum” on their push for gun control, one thing became clear: the Democrats had absolutely lost momentum on their push for gun control. Pelosi may have been trying to put a brave face on the Democrats’ gun-ban failure, but she undermined her own words of encouragement in the same breath, the Hill reports:

“Say it doesn’t prevail, just for the sake of argument,” she said. “It argues all the more strongly for having the toughest; best; most effective background checks, instead of diluting the background checks, because we might not succeed with the assault weapons ban.”

But even more of an indication of the direction of this legislative battle than Pelosi’s comments was the reaction New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg received when he tried to threaten Democrats in pro-gun states.

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Yesterday, as Nancy Pelosi insisted the Democrats had not “lost momentum” on their push for gun control, one thing became clear: the Democrats had absolutely lost momentum on their push for gun control. Pelosi may have been trying to put a brave face on the Democrats’ gun-ban failure, but she undermined her own words of encouragement in the same breath, the Hill reports:

“Say it doesn’t prevail, just for the sake of argument,” she said. “It argues all the more strongly for having the toughest; best; most effective background checks, instead of diluting the background checks, because we might not succeed with the assault weapons ban.”

But even more of an indication of the direction of this legislative battle than Pelosi’s comments was the reaction New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg received when he tried to threaten Democrats in pro-gun states.

The Associated Press reports that since persuading voters and their elected representatives of the wisdom and utility of liberal gun legislation has favored conservatives and constitutionalists, President Obama and Bloomberg are going to try other methods: scare tactics, raw appeals to emotion through the president’s exploitation of the grief of families of Newtown victims, and lots and lots of money.

Democrats who represent pro-Second Amendment states are pushing back, however. The beauty of America’s cultural diversity is that many Americans live in states where they don’t have to ask their government’s permission to retrieve a soda or sandwich from their refrigerator, as New York’s Pop Czar would prefer. Those same voters often don’t like various other constitutional protections infringed upon, and their elected representatives know this. The AP notes that North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and Arkansas’s Mark Pryor are two prominent examples:

“I do not need someone from New York City to tell me how to handle crime in our state. I know that we can go after and prosecute criminals without the need to infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding North Dakotans,” Heitkamp said this week, citing the constitutional right to bear arms.

Heitkamp does not face re-election next year, but Pryor and five other Senate Democrats from Republican-leaning or closely divided states do. All six, from Southern and Western states, will face voters whose deep attachment to guns is unshakeable – not to mention opposition from the still-potent National Rifle Association, should they vote for restrictions the NRA opposes.

There’s that phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of Democrats: “will face voters.” Democrats keep forgetting about that part. The AP even does its part to try and help, as the press so often does, by mentioning that increased federal background checks for gun buyers would constitute “the remaining primary proposal pushed by Obama and many Democrats since 20 first-graders and six women were shot to death in December at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.”

The juxtaposition there is interesting, because the increased background checks–some of which are eminently sensible, unlike the random attempted gun ban–would not seem to have prevented the Newtown tragedy. But this is not really the point, as evidenced by the president’s strategy of attempting to establish his moral superiority instead of productively partaking in crafting meaningful legislation. And it is also nothing new. This hews closely to the habit of the president and his party, whether it be global warming legislation that his own government administrators admit won’t curb global warming; universal health insurance legislation that the Congressional Budget Office admits will likely kick millions of Americans off their existing plans and will incentivize those who tend not to buy insurance to continue not buying insurance; or “consumer protection” financial legislation that reinforces the federal government’s penchant for bailouts and solidifies the concept of “too big to fail” as federal policy underwritten by taxpayer money.

Voters are already wary of policies they see as violating their constitutional freedoms. They will only be more so as the Obama administration continues to push legislation that perpetuates, rather than solves, the problems it’s designed to address.

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Reid Tries to Save Liberals from Themselves

President Obama and Senator Dianne Feinstein are not happy with Harry Reid. The feeling is mutual. And no one is hiding it very well. The three Democratic leaders are reacting to the announcement that Feinstein’s ban on certain so-called “assault weapons” will not be included in the final Senate gun-control bill and will not be voted on. The assault-weapons ban was always going to end this way; the votes were never there for it.

And while Feinstein believes she was promised a vote and Obama isn’t thrilled about elevating this issue only to have it bow to political reality, there is something disingenuous in focusing their ire on Reid. After all, Reid’s strategy of grinding the Senate to a halt, locking out the opposition from getting votes or amendments, and obstructing even basic Senate business and responsibilities has always been about protecting Democrats from having to vote on their very unpopular, ill-considered policy ideas that the voters would surely hate.

In other words, fully aware of the absurdity of the Democratic policy agenda, Reid’s leadership has always been geared toward saving liberals from themselves–and the voters. And that is exactly what he’s doing on the gun bill. What’s more, while the White House says it’s not giving up on the ban, Reid is telling them to drop it. The Washington Post reports on Reid’s admission that a possible Republican filibuster of the bill is not the cause of its demise:

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President Obama and Senator Dianne Feinstein are not happy with Harry Reid. The feeling is mutual. And no one is hiding it very well. The three Democratic leaders are reacting to the announcement that Feinstein’s ban on certain so-called “assault weapons” will not be included in the final Senate gun-control bill and will not be voted on. The assault-weapons ban was always going to end this way; the votes were never there for it.

And while Feinstein believes she was promised a vote and Obama isn’t thrilled about elevating this issue only to have it bow to political reality, there is something disingenuous in focusing their ire on Reid. After all, Reid’s strategy of grinding the Senate to a halt, locking out the opposition from getting votes or amendments, and obstructing even basic Senate business and responsibilities has always been about protecting Democrats from having to vote on their very unpopular, ill-considered policy ideas that the voters would surely hate.

In other words, fully aware of the absurdity of the Democratic policy agenda, Reid’s leadership has always been geared toward saving liberals from themselves–and the voters. And that is exactly what he’s doing on the gun bill. What’s more, while the White House says it’s not giving up on the ban, Reid is telling them to drop it. The Washington Post reports on Reid’s admission that a possible Republican filibuster of the bill is not the cause of its demise:

Reid (D-Nev.) is preparing to move ahead with debate on a series of gun-control proposals when the Senate returns from a two-week Easter recess in early April. Although he has vowed to hold votes on measures introduced after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December, Reid told reporters Tuesday that the proposed assault-weapons ban isn’t holding up against Senate rules that require at least 60 votes to end debate and move to final passage.

The proposed ban, “using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That’s not 60,” Reid said.

No, 40 is not 60. More importantly, it’s not 50, which means a straight up-or-down vote on the assault weapons ban would see Democrats knock the bill down. That’s Reid’s message to the White House (and to Feinstein). Reid doesn’t want to force Democrats to vote on the gun ban because the ensuing result would be both more damaging to the Democratic Party and more embarrassing for the White House, as enough Democrats went on record opposing the ban to publicly reject the president.

Obama may bristle at getting a brushback pitch from Reid, but electorally this strategy is better than the approach taken by Nancy Pelosi in the House. Reid represents a moderate state that leans conservative on some issues (like guns), which tempers his Senate leadership with a measure of reality. Not so with Pelosi. She hails from a very liberal district in the liberal state of California. The legislative agenda that comes out of the leftmost fringe of a Democratic Party already without moderates makes life even more difficult for lawmakers who aren’t as liberal as Pelosi. As such, when Democrats had the majority in the House and Pelosi served as speaker, she forced the House to vote on bills that were sure to go nowhere in the Senate and never be enacted but which put them on record in support of bad policy. That was the case, for example, with the cap-and-trade global warming bill back in 2009.

“We passed transformational legislation which takes us into the future,” Pelosi said after voting on legislation everyone knew would never become law. The following November, as Democrats approached a shellacking in the midterm elections, the New York Times reported that “House Democrats are bracing for tough losses across the country today, and the controversial cap-and-trade climate bill is sure to be part of any post-election analysis.” The Times added that the bill “has haunted” those who voted for it.

So the White House and Feinstein may want to lay off Reid. But they’re not. The Post adds:

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that Senate Democrats’ decision is not a setback for Obama’s gun-control efforts. He said that the bill can still be brought up as an amendment and that there should be a concerted effort to pass it.

“We’re going to work on this. We’re going to find the votes,” McDonough said, according to a transcript. “It deserves a vote, and let’s see if we can get it done.”

The Times reports that Feinstein is “angry” over the exclusion of the gun ban. But that anger is misdirected. There are two parties in the U.S. Congress, and neither of them wants the gun ban. Most of the Senate Democrats seem to have learned a lesson from the 2010 midterms, even if Obama and Feinstein have not.

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Wasserman Schultz to Get DNC Encore

Dan Halper flags a Roll Call report that says Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to stay on for another two-year term as DNC chair, since Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn aren’t likely to give up their top leadership positions:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida will reportedly stay on as Democratic National Committee chief for another two-year term.

“The House Democratic leadership mold continues to harden, as Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida are expected to remain in their current positions, which are effectively out of the upper echelon of caucus leadership ranks,” reports Roll Call.

That decision might be a little strange, since it was thought Wasserman Schultz was a weak surrogate for Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. “Internal polling rates her the least effective of all Obama campaign surrogates,” Politico reported during the campaign.

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Dan Halper flags a Roll Call report that says Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to stay on for another two-year term as DNC chair, since Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn aren’t likely to give up their top leadership positions:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida will reportedly stay on as Democratic National Committee chief for another two-year term.

“The House Democratic leadership mold continues to harden, as Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida are expected to remain in their current positions, which are effectively out of the upper echelon of caucus leadership ranks,” reports Roll Call.

That decision might be a little strange, since it was thought Wasserman Schultz was a weak surrogate for Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. “Internal polling rates her the least effective of all Obama campaign surrogates,” Politico reported during the campaign.

DWS is the gift that keeps on giving (for Republicans), so if she’s staying put it must be because she has no other options or nobody better wants the job. Based on the Roll Call article, Democrats seem to figure that she’ll do less damage where she is than she might in a top House leadership role. Ed Morrissey explains the logic:

In some sense, this is a vote of no confidence in the next generation of House Democratic leadership, or at least no confidence yet.

Given Wasserman Schultz’ performance as DNC chair, that doesn’t seem irrational, either.  She started off by accusing Republicans of wanting to bring back Jim Crow, and ended up marginalized as a surrogate for Team Obama, with plenty of embarrassments along the way.  (Getting reamed by Anderson Cooper for lying was one of the most prominent examples.)  Three months ago, Politico’s Glenn Thrush revealed conflicts between Wasserman Schultz and the White House in his e-book, and Politico reported that their polling showed her the least effective of their surrogates.

As bad as Wasserman Schultz was, it didn’t seem to hold Democrats back this election. They even made small gains in the House and Senate. As long as the party is willing to keep her in the position, and there’s nowhere better for her to go, why not stay on for another term? Certainly Republicans can’t complain, given her penchant for saying ridiculous things.

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“Toxic” Pelosi Clings to Power

Nevada Democrat Shelley Berkley lost a close election for Senate last week. Although it was a Senate campaign, Berkley was coming from the House, which meant her opponent, Dean Heller, had had an easy weapon to deploy against her: Nancy Pelosi. Tying candidates like this to Pelosi has been a favorite tactic of congressional Republicans and their supporters. When Fred Barnes profiled Harry Reid in September, he asked GOP operatives why Pelosi was constantly invoked but Reid wasn’t.

Pelosi is “toxic” with voters, he found; Republican strategists described her as “the gift that keeps on giving.” Barnes continued: “In focus groups conducted by Republicans, swing voters respond negatively to any mention of Pelosi. It’s clear she’s a drag on Democrats. But when Reid is raised, the reaction is weak.” And so it is that Pelosi compounds the Democrats’ “Obama problem,” so to speak: the punishment voters have meted out to Democrats, especially in the House and in gubernatorial elections, for the array of unpopular big-government excesses of the Obama administration. House candidates are particularly susceptible to the mood swings of the electorate, so you would think Pelosi would step down as House minority leader and give the Democrats a fighting chance as they head into the often-difficult second-term midterm elections. But you would be wrong.

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Nevada Democrat Shelley Berkley lost a close election for Senate last week. Although it was a Senate campaign, Berkley was coming from the House, which meant her opponent, Dean Heller, had had an easy weapon to deploy against her: Nancy Pelosi. Tying candidates like this to Pelosi has been a favorite tactic of congressional Republicans and their supporters. When Fred Barnes profiled Harry Reid in September, he asked GOP operatives why Pelosi was constantly invoked but Reid wasn’t.

Pelosi is “toxic” with voters, he found; Republican strategists described her as “the gift that keeps on giving.” Barnes continued: “In focus groups conducted by Republicans, swing voters respond negatively to any mention of Pelosi. It’s clear she’s a drag on Democrats. But when Reid is raised, the reaction is weak.” And so it is that Pelosi compounds the Democrats’ “Obama problem,” so to speak: the punishment voters have meted out to Democrats, especially in the House and in gubernatorial elections, for the array of unpopular big-government excesses of the Obama administration. House candidates are particularly susceptible to the mood swings of the electorate, so you would think Pelosi would step down as House minority leader and give the Democrats a fighting chance as they head into the often-difficult second-term midterm elections. But you would be wrong.

Today, Pelosi announced that she intends to stay on as Democratic leader. It’s true that substantively this may not make too much of a difference, since the Democrats have just about eliminated any moderate wing of their party and moved their entire caucus much closer to Pelosi’s liberal extremism and patent unwillingness to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans. So it isn’t clear the Democrats had anyone much less extreme to replace her with.

At the same time, she is broadly, if unsurprisingly, disliked by the national electorate, and the Democrats may have had an opportunity to at least try some of the rebranding efforts that Republicans are now undertaking in the wake of their own shellacking last week.

In a sense, Pelosi’s party needs all the help it can get. With messy, costly legislation and high unemployment, Pelosi has presided over a difficult term as party leader. That probably won’t improve much if the president’s stated budget negotiation aims are any clue: Obama would like to raise taxes a bit more than he previously indicated, it seems. Obama doesn’t have another reelection campaign coming up, but the House Democrats do.

Not only does Obama share in the blame for what keeps happening to Pelosi’s caucus, but so does Reid. Under his leadership, Senate Democrats have chosen to grind the legislative process to a halt, shutting Republicans out and refusing to pass a budget for going on three years. Until the Democratic Party leadership takes their foot off the neck of the economy, it’s Pelosi’s House Democrats that that can expect to keep paying the price at the ballot box.

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Moderate Dems Keep Quietly Disappearing

When outgoing GOP Senator Richard Lugar lost his primary election to Richard Mourdock earlier this year, there was an unusual amount of disingenuous garment rending over the supposed death of bipartisanship due to the increasingly conservative nature of the Republican Party.

Yet there will be no sad songs for outgoing Democratic Congressman Heath Shuler. While the media was focused on the dwindling of moderate Republicans, they missed the fact that pro-life Democrats and moderate Democrats virtually disappeared completely. Yet Shuler’s retirement from Congress is notable in that he was the last remaining Democrat willing to challenge Nancy Pelosi. And his defeat at the hands of my-way-or-the-highway liberalism should have been a far bigger story—if the media’s concerns were at all honest—than the defeat of an eighty-year-old officeholder.

Politico reports that on his way out the door, Shuler shows actual concern for bipartisanship:

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When outgoing GOP Senator Richard Lugar lost his primary election to Richard Mourdock earlier this year, there was an unusual amount of disingenuous garment rending over the supposed death of bipartisanship due to the increasingly conservative nature of the Republican Party.

Yet there will be no sad songs for outgoing Democratic Congressman Heath Shuler. While the media was focused on the dwindling of moderate Republicans, they missed the fact that pro-life Democrats and moderate Democrats virtually disappeared completely. Yet Shuler’s retirement from Congress is notable in that he was the last remaining Democrat willing to challenge Nancy Pelosi. And his defeat at the hands of my-way-or-the-highway liberalism should have been a far bigger story—if the media’s concerns were at all honest—than the defeat of an eighty-year-old officeholder.

Politico reports that on his way out the door, Shuler shows actual concern for bipartisanship:

“I was hoping I’d see more of the ‘We are America’ team. What I’ve seen instead is divisiveness. It’s an us vs. them mentality, Democrat vs. Republican, liberals vs. conservatives. And I would really have liked to [have] seen more of an ‘about America’ mind-set,’” he said. “So often up here, I feel like a kindergarten teacher separating two children from fighting over crayons. It’s because the maturity level is on that level sometimes.”

Shuler’s remedy to get over the bickering: Make members live in Washington, eat dinner together and spend more time getting to know one another.

Since Pelosi and President Obama famously dislike even talking to Republicans, and since Harry Reid has chosen to bring Senate business to a halt rather than let Republicans take part in the democratic process, that’s probably not going to happen. Nor is it likely that the media will mourn a dissenting Democratic voice, which they generally view as a nuisance.

But Shuler’s quiet retirement is a good opportunity for conservatives to realize that if they thought the Pelosi-Reid Democrats were hostile to working with them when Shuler and Joe Lieberman were still in office, they’ve probably only witnessed the beginning of the Democrats’ relentless partisanship.

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Dems Back Reid Attacks on Romney’s Taxes

Democrats are starting to throw their support behind Sen. Harry Reid’s completely unsourced attacks on Mitt Romney’s tax returns. While the Obama campaign hasn’t endorsed Reid’s comments explicitly, it’s been using them as an opening to smack Romney for his failure to release more than two years of his tax information. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is defending Reid’s credibility, calling his allegations “a fact”:

“Harry Reid made a statement that is true. Somebody told him. It is a fact,” Pelosi told The Huffington Post in a Sunday interview. “Whether he did or not can easily be disposed of: Mitt Romney can release his tax returns and show whether he paid taxes.”

Both Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus came out swinging against Reid on Sunday over his claims about Romney potentially not paying taxes. Asked to respond to Priebus calling Reid “a dirty liar” over the situation, Pelosi initially responded, “Who?” She went on to say that Priebus doesn’t know what he’s talking about since he wasn’t part of Reid’s conversations.

“Well he doesn’t know that,” Pelosi said. “Harry Reid is a person who is, as we know, A, is a fighter, B, he wouldn’t say this unless it was true that somebody told him that.”

Pelosi’s comments will at least help extend the news life of this story, giving the Obama campaign more time to hammer Romney to release his returns. But are Democrats also taking a risk with this attack?

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Democrats are starting to throw their support behind Sen. Harry Reid’s completely unsourced attacks on Mitt Romney’s tax returns. While the Obama campaign hasn’t endorsed Reid’s comments explicitly, it’s been using them as an opening to smack Romney for his failure to release more than two years of his tax information. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is defending Reid’s credibility, calling his allegations “a fact”:

“Harry Reid made a statement that is true. Somebody told him. It is a fact,” Pelosi told The Huffington Post in a Sunday interview. “Whether he did or not can easily be disposed of: Mitt Romney can release his tax returns and show whether he paid taxes.”

Both Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus came out swinging against Reid on Sunday over his claims about Romney potentially not paying taxes. Asked to respond to Priebus calling Reid “a dirty liar” over the situation, Pelosi initially responded, “Who?” She went on to say that Priebus doesn’t know what he’s talking about since he wasn’t part of Reid’s conversations.

“Well he doesn’t know that,” Pelosi said. “Harry Reid is a person who is, as we know, A, is a fighter, B, he wouldn’t say this unless it was true that somebody told him that.”

Pelosi’s comments will at least help extend the news life of this story, giving the Obama campaign more time to hammer Romney to release his returns. But are Democrats also taking a risk with this attack?

Larry Sabato argues they are in USA Today:

Team Obama’s tactic isn’t without risk, said Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia. “Suppose Romney reverses course and releases the extra tax returns, and they show that he did pay substantial taxes,” Sabato said. “Both Reid and Obama would have to apologize, I would think.”

Sabato, however, concludes that the Obama campaign has made the calculation that Romney, who became wealthy in his years in private equity, won’t release more returns. “Every new complicated return gives Democrats and the media lots of openings for negative charges and stories,” he said.

Obama or Reid apologize for a slanderous statement about Romney? Don’t hold your breath. Democrats are tacitly supporting Reid’s comments because they don’t see a downside here. Even if Romney releases his tax returns and proves Reid’s baseless claims false, the story won’t be about Reid — it’ll be about whatever is in Romney’s returns. And if Romney’s previous tax documents are any indication, Democrats will have a ton of fresh attack fodder that has nothing to do with tax dodging. His income and his investment information will probably be more than enough to keep the DNC busy for a few weeks.

On the other hand, if Romney doesn’t release his returns — the most likely scenario at this point — then Democrats will have a few weeks to slime his reputation with baseless claims about tax fraud. It’s a win-win for them.

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Who Will Be the Next April Glaspie?

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqi invasion followed months of escalating rhetoric, much of which American diplomats downplayed in the belief that Arab dictators didn’t mean what they said.  Meeting with Saddam Hussein eight days before the invasion, Ambassador April Glaspie told the Iraqi dictator, “We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.” Iraqi officials subsequently claimed that Saddam interpreted Glaspie’s remarks as a pledge of non-interference and perhaps even a green light.  The press made Glaspie into a scapegoat, but she was only the product of a larger diplomatic culture.

The invasion of Kuwait unleashed a cascade of events which culminated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The question both politicians and historians should ask is whether they might have headed off the invasion months or years ahead of time as the true nature of Saddam Hussein became clear.

Rather than suppress reports of Saddam’s chemical weapons use against Kurdish civilians, the Reagan administration should have cut Saddam off right then and there. But sophisticated diplomats hoped to rehabilitate Saddam, both as a means of containing Iran and also to peel Saddam away from Soviet influence.

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Today marks the 22nd anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The Iraqi invasion followed months of escalating rhetoric, much of which American diplomats downplayed in the belief that Arab dictators didn’t mean what they said.  Meeting with Saddam Hussein eight days before the invasion, Ambassador April Glaspie told the Iraqi dictator, “We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.” Iraqi officials subsequently claimed that Saddam interpreted Glaspie’s remarks as a pledge of non-interference and perhaps even a green light.  The press made Glaspie into a scapegoat, but she was only the product of a larger diplomatic culture.

The invasion of Kuwait unleashed a cascade of events which culminated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The question both politicians and historians should ask is whether they might have headed off the invasion months or years ahead of time as the true nature of Saddam Hussein became clear.

Rather than suppress reports of Saddam’s chemical weapons use against Kurdish civilians, the Reagan administration should have cut Saddam off right then and there. But sophisticated diplomats hoped to rehabilitate Saddam, both as a means of containing Iran and also to peel Saddam away from Soviet influence.

Against a steady stream of reports suggesting Saddam’s cruelty and aggressive intent, Sen. John McCain pushed for military sanctions on Iraq. Sen. Arlen Specter decided to travel to Baghdad to talk with the Iraqi dictator. Like his senate colleagues John Kerry, Joseph Biden, and Dick Lugar, as well as Nancy Pelosi in the House, Specter believed that he had a unique ability to talk dictators back from the brink: He could engage successfully, where all others had failed. Specter met Saddam on January 12, 1990. He believed Saddam’s talk of peace, and effectively became Saddam’s useful idiot. Over the next few months, he persistently undercut McCain’s proposals to extend military sanctions on Iraq.

Saddam may today be gone, but history seems to be repeating with regard to Iran. Iranian leaders issue a steady stream of genocidal rhetoric against Israel, support repression in Syria, and question the sovereignty of Bahrain. Yet, diplomats and many academics dismiss Iranian rhetoric. While senators have largely embraced sanctions against Iran, just as Specter did almost 23 years ago, President Obama and senior administration officials still suggest that there is enough time for diplomacy to work, even as Khamenei, like Saddam before him, pushes full steam ahead with plans to fulfill his regional ambition.

As history repeats itself, the only questions are who will be the next Glaspie and how much ruin will the Obama team’s blind belief in diplomacy bring.

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Pelosi: Contempt Vote Part of Plan to Disenfranchise Minorities

It was only a matter of time before Democrats played the race card on the Eric Holder contempt vote. What else are they going to say? They need to obscure the real issue here as quickly as possible, and what better way than to shout “racist!” again and again at bewildered Republicans?

Rep. Nancy Pelosi set the liberal narrative yesterday afternoon (h/t Joel Gehrke):

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), declared that House Republicans are charging Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress not as part of an investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, but in order to weaken his ability to prevent voter suppression.

“They’re going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter suppression initiatives in the states,” Pelosi told reporters during her press briefing today. “This is no accident, it is no coincidence. It is a plan on the part of Republicans.”

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It was only a matter of time before Democrats played the race card on the Eric Holder contempt vote. What else are they going to say? They need to obscure the real issue here as quickly as possible, and what better way than to shout “racist!” again and again at bewildered Republicans?

Rep. Nancy Pelosi set the liberal narrative yesterday afternoon (h/t Joel Gehrke):

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), declared that House Republicans are charging Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress not as part of an investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, but in order to weaken his ability to prevent voter suppression.

“They’re going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter suppression initiatives in the states,” Pelosi told reporters during her press briefing today. “This is no accident, it is no coincidence. It is a plan on the part of Republicans.”

Did you get that? Republicans are so intent on suppressing the minority vote that they began investigating the Fast and Furious scandal more than a year and a half ago because they suspected that, at some point in the future, Attorney General Eric Holder might attempt to overturn state voter ID laws that nobody had even heard of at the time — and the GOP would have the ultimate trump card ready to foil his plan. That sounds like a much more likely explanation than, say, Holder refusing to turn over thousands of pages of relevant documents to an investigating congressional committee.

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Dems Still in Denial on Entitlements Doom

The political class may lack the will to deal with impending doom of the two largest entitlements in the federal budget, but that doesn’t mean that the clock isn’t ticking until the moment when both Medicare and Social Security will run out of money. The annual reports of the trustees of these two federal programs were released this afternoon, and the verdict is just a bit darker than last year’s report. According to the figures, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2033, three full years earlier than last year’s estimate. The news about Medicare was no worse than 12 months ago but was already bad enough. It will collapse in 2024.

These alarming pieces of news ought to be greeted with dismay and resolve to deal with the entitlements problem that is leading the country to insolvency. But one end of the political spectrum believes things are just fine:

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said that “Despite the repeated efforts of Republicans to privatize Social Security and end the Medicare guarantee, these vital initiatives remain strong.” She argued that the trustees’ report “demonstrates that health care reform has strengthened Medicare by extending its solvency.”

This complacence would be shocking if it were not rooted in a basic tenet of liberal ideology. Despite the nonsense she uttered about the strength of the programs, Pelosi and other liberals understand that no government program no matter how financially ruinous will ever truly run out of money so long as the government retains the power to confiscate as much of the income of the public as the federal leviathan needs. The essential difference between the parties about how to deal with this problem is not so much about the existence of the problem but whether the solution should be found in the pockets of the taxpayers.

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The political class may lack the will to deal with impending doom of the two largest entitlements in the federal budget, but that doesn’t mean that the clock isn’t ticking until the moment when both Medicare and Social Security will run out of money. The annual reports of the trustees of these two federal programs were released this afternoon, and the verdict is just a bit darker than last year’s report. According to the figures, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2033, three full years earlier than last year’s estimate. The news about Medicare was no worse than 12 months ago but was already bad enough. It will collapse in 2024.

These alarming pieces of news ought to be greeted with dismay and resolve to deal with the entitlements problem that is leading the country to insolvency. But one end of the political spectrum believes things are just fine:

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said that “Despite the repeated efforts of Republicans to privatize Social Security and end the Medicare guarantee, these vital initiatives remain strong.” She argued that the trustees’ report “demonstrates that health care reform has strengthened Medicare by extending its solvency.”

This complacence would be shocking if it were not rooted in a basic tenet of liberal ideology. Despite the nonsense she uttered about the strength of the programs, Pelosi and other liberals understand that no government program no matter how financially ruinous will ever truly run out of money so long as the government retains the power to confiscate as much of the income of the public as the federal leviathan needs. The essential difference between the parties about how to deal with this problem is not so much about the existence of the problem but whether the solution should be found in the pockets of the taxpayers.

Less extreme was the response of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who acknowledged the danger but reassured himself — and the Democratic base — that the funds are adequate “for years to come.” But that’s just a polite way of saying that the government won’t go bust on his watch, even if it is inevitable that it will implode on someone else’s.

But the more pessimistic assessment of Social Security’s prospects is directly related to the poor record of the administration on the economy because:

The trustees cited slower growth in average earnings of workers, lower earnings from interest on the trust fund’s holdings of federal debt, and the persistence of unemployment during the slow recovery from the recent recession.

Nevertheless, Geithner threw down a challenge to Republicans intent on fundamental reform of the system by saying the administration would oppose any effort to institute changes that would “destroy” the system or save “tax cuts for the wealthy.” But this sort of class warfare sloganeering is a thin façade for a policy of doing nothing to stop the exponential growth of expenditures in order to stir fear among the elderly and play to the liberal base.

Contrary to Pelosi’s policy of denial and Geithner’s determination to kick the can down the road, the trustees’ reports make reform plans like those of Rep. Paul Ryan even more important. Rather than being an issue with which the Democrats can demagogue the GOP, the latest reports about Social Security and Medicare can serve to build a broader constituency for a common sense approach that will discard liberal cant and address the fundamental problem. Though the Democrats believe the voters are too fearful or too stupid to understand the facts, their attempts to obfuscate the clear responsibility of Washington to deal with this crisis may run aground on the sea of red ink that is too large for even the trustees of these funds to ignore.

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Remembering Nancy Pelosi’s Syria Junket

Five years ago this coming Wednesday, House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi defied President Bush’s request and his strategy isolating Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad by going to Damascus. “We do not encourage and, in fact, we discourage members of Congress to make such visits to Syria,” the White House spokesman said. “This is a country that is a state sponsor of terror.”

Pelosi would have none of that. She had known evil and to her, he resided in the White House. The Syrian dictator, however, was a reforming, Western educated eye doctor. Bilateral problems might be real, but they might be resolved through dialogue. “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace,” she told reporters.

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Five years ago this coming Wednesday, House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi defied President Bush’s request and his strategy isolating Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad by going to Damascus. “We do not encourage and, in fact, we discourage members of Congress to make such visits to Syria,” the White House spokesman said. “This is a country that is a state sponsor of terror.”

Pelosi would have none of that. She had known evil and to her, he resided in the White House. The Syrian dictator, however, was a reforming, Western educated eye doctor. Bilateral problems might be real, but they might be resolved through dialogue. “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace,” she told reporters.

The Syrian regime used her meeting to its full propaganda advantage. After concluding his meeting with Pelosi, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, said, “These people in the United States who are opposing dialogue I tell them one thing: Dialogue is … the only method to close the gap existing between two countries.” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Pelosi, Syrian officers and North Korean scientists scrambled to put the finishing touches on a covert nuclear facility, and Syrian dissidents dove for cover, interpreting correctly that Assad would interpret the end of America’s isolation of Assad as a green light for murder. Assad, in hindsight, welcomed Pelosi not as a politician with whom to have sincere dialogue, but rather as a useful idiot who might help relieve him of international pressure.

Five years later, Bashar al-Assad has not changed and, alas, neither has Nancy Pelosi.

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Pelosi Hits Wrong Notes at AIPAC

Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s speech at AIPAC tonight was as tough as it gets coming from her: she rejected containment of Iran’s nuclear program, reiterated that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the world, and praised the latest round of “crippling sanctions” on Iran. But her comments about Iran “returning to the negotiating table” because of these sanctions seemed Pollyannaish, and coming on the heels of Senator McConnell’s barnburner, the speech seemed like a snooze.

“We’re seeing results.  The Iranian economy and energy industry are suffering. Iran’s partners are cutting off ties of trade and commerce,” said Pelosi. “We are undermining the funding of Iran’s nuclear activities. In short, Iran is feeling the bite of our sanctions. Our actions reaffirm our message–it is time for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, return to the negotiating table, and abandon its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

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Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s speech at AIPAC tonight was as tough as it gets coming from her: she rejected containment of Iran’s nuclear program, reiterated that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the world, and praised the latest round of “crippling sanctions” on Iran. But her comments about Iran “returning to the negotiating table” because of these sanctions seemed Pollyannaish, and coming on the heels of Senator McConnell’s barnburner, the speech seemed like a snooze.

“We’re seeing results.  The Iranian economy and energy industry are suffering. Iran’s partners are cutting off ties of trade and commerce,” said Pelosi. “We are undermining the funding of Iran’s nuclear activities. In short, Iran is feeling the bite of our sanctions. Our actions reaffirm our message–it is time for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, return to the negotiating table, and abandon its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

While she said the bare minimum that she could on Iran, the rest of her speech was filled with typical, generic AIPAC applause lines.

“We were reminded that Israel and the Jewish people remain a symbol of democracy–that we must continue to fight for the day when Israel’s existence is a fact recognized by every nation on Earth,” said Pelosi.  “And, founded on our shared values and shared vision, we pledge to work to usher in an era when Israel can realize, in the spirit of its national anthem, the hope to be a free people, living in peace and security in the Jewish homeland.”

It was nice, and the audience was polite throughout. But AIPAC attendees were clearly looking for a bolder message, and Pelosi did not deliver.

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The Progressive Project (continued)

Earlier this week, in describing the ambitions of the Progressive Project, as embodied in Barack Obama, I wrote, “Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church.”

It’s with interest, then, that I note that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman for whom Obama has had nothing but praise and with whom he has worked very close, was asked this question by John McCormick of The Weekly Standard: “The Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., is a self-insured institution. Should the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., be required to pay for these morning-after pills and birth control if they find that morally objectionable?”

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Earlier this week, in describing the ambitions of the Progressive Project, as embodied in Barack Obama, I wrote, “Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church.”

It’s with interest, then, that I note that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman for whom Obama has had nothing but praise and with whom he has worked very close, was asked this question by John McCormick of The Weekly Standard: “The Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., is a self-insured institution. Should the Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., be required to pay for these morning-after pills and birth control if they find that morally objectionable?”

In response, Pelosi said, “Yes, I think that all institutions who cover, who give, health insurance should cover the full range of health insurance issues for women.”

This is liberalism/progressivism in its purest and most undiluted form. It does, in fact, want to weaken and eventually replace civil society and expand the reach of the state even into the internal life of the church. And it no longer even attempts to disguise its aims.

The American people can’t say we don’t know what the end game here is.

 

 

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What Could Pelosi Possibly “Know” About Gingrich?

During an interview with CNN’s John King, Rep. Nancy Pelosi hinted she knows something big that would prevent Newt Gingrich from ever becoming president:

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During an interview with CNN’s John King, Rep. Nancy Pelosi hinted she knows something big that would prevent Newt Gingrich from ever becoming president:

If Pelosi’s talking about the ethics committee investigation again, it’s hard to believe there’s anything explosive there. If there was, Gingrich would have gotten more than just a reprimand from Congress – there would have been a serious criminal investigation. As it stands now, Gingrich was exonerated on some of the accusations by a subsequent IRS probe.

Plus, whatever damaging information on Gingrich that Nancy Pelosi claims to have in this clip, it apparently wasn’t horrible enough to stop her from teaming up with him on a global warming campaign. It seems more likely that Pelosi knows the same things everybody else does: that Gingrich cheated on two of his three wives, skirted ethics rules, left Congress in disgrace, alienated members of his own party, has an out-of-control ego, lobbied for Freddie Mac, flip-flopped on too many issues to count and seriously lacks self-discipline. So far, those problems haven’t dissuaded Republican voters from supporting him, but Pelosi certainly wouldn’t be far off to think these would be major – potentially insurmountable – obstacles during a general election.

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Live Blogging Tonight During the State of the Union Speech

Members of Congress may be searching across the aisle for dates for the State of the Union speech tonight (Yes, we’re talking about you, Eric Cantor — there has to be somebody other than Nancy Pelosi for you to sit with!), but readers of CONTENTIONS don’t have that problem. Tonight at 9 p.m., join CONTENTIONS contributors Alana Goodman, Abe Greenwald, and Jonathan Tobin for a live-blog session during President Obama’s State of the Union speech. See you tonight!

Members of Congress may be searching across the aisle for dates for the State of the Union speech tonight (Yes, we’re talking about you, Eric Cantor — there has to be somebody other than Nancy Pelosi for you to sit with!), but readers of CONTENTIONS don’t have that problem. Tonight at 9 p.m., join CONTENTIONS contributors Alana Goodman, Abe Greenwald, and Jonathan Tobin for a live-blog session during President Obama’s State of the Union speech. See you tonight!

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Boehner’s Tears Seen as Sign of Strength

Members of the political left — who regard themselves as crusaders for gender equality — have an interesting habit of mocking conservatives like John Boehner and Glenn Beck for getting misty-eyed in public.

Nancy Pelosi had this to say about Boehner’s penchant for tearing up last November:

You know what? He is known to cry. He cries sometimes when we’re having a debate on bills. If I cry, it’s about the personal loss of a friend or something like that. But when it comes to politics — no, I don’t cry. I would never think of crying about any loss of an office, because that’s always a possibility, and if you’re professional, then you deal with it professionally.

That’s basically political-talk for saying Boehner acts like a girl. But according to a new Quinnipiac University study, voters in Ohio disagree: “Boehner’s tendency to cry in public is a sign of strength rather than weakness, voters say 36 – 27 percent, with 37 percent undecided,” said the study.

In the past, crying has been seen as political suicide, and it’s even been blamed for causing politicians to lose elections. So it’s quite a change if voters now see it as a symbol of strength.

There was still a pretty significant gender split on the question, however. According to the Quinnipiac study, “women see strength in Boehner’s tears 44 – 20 percent, while men see weakness 34 – 27 percent.”

And if I had to guess, I’d say that not all types of public crying are acceptable in modern politics. For example, crying in the middle of an especially overwhelming moment of glory, joy, or pride is probably fine. But crying after getting injured? That’s almost certainly unacceptable. And while misty eyes are perfectly acceptable, if more than a couple of tears are shed — four at most — it’s probably not a good political move. Needless to say, anything that involves sobbing, a running nose, or gasping for breath is totally out of bounds and should be avoided at all costs.

Members of the political left — who regard themselves as crusaders for gender equality — have an interesting habit of mocking conservatives like John Boehner and Glenn Beck for getting misty-eyed in public.

Nancy Pelosi had this to say about Boehner’s penchant for tearing up last November:

You know what? He is known to cry. He cries sometimes when we’re having a debate on bills. If I cry, it’s about the personal loss of a friend or something like that. But when it comes to politics — no, I don’t cry. I would never think of crying about any loss of an office, because that’s always a possibility, and if you’re professional, then you deal with it professionally.

That’s basically political-talk for saying Boehner acts like a girl. But according to a new Quinnipiac University study, voters in Ohio disagree: “Boehner’s tendency to cry in public is a sign of strength rather than weakness, voters say 36 – 27 percent, with 37 percent undecided,” said the study.

In the past, crying has been seen as political suicide, and it’s even been blamed for causing politicians to lose elections. So it’s quite a change if voters now see it as a symbol of strength.

There was still a pretty significant gender split on the question, however. According to the Quinnipiac study, “women see strength in Boehner’s tears 44 – 20 percent, while men see weakness 34 – 27 percent.”

And if I had to guess, I’d say that not all types of public crying are acceptable in modern politics. For example, crying in the middle of an especially overwhelming moment of glory, joy, or pride is probably fine. But crying after getting injured? That’s almost certainly unacceptable. And while misty eyes are perfectly acceptable, if more than a couple of tears are shed — four at most — it’s probably not a good political move. Needless to say, anything that involves sobbing, a running nose, or gasping for breath is totally out of bounds and should be avoided at all costs.

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RE: Is the Right Worse Than the Left?

When it comes to plain old bigotry, no. George Will in today’s column quotes Charles Blow’s March 26, 2010, column in  the Times. Blow notes that the “far right,” by which he means either mainstream conservatives or a group so small as to be of no importance, has romanticized the country of the past, a country that no longer exists. He writes:

Even the optics must be irritating. A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill’s most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It’s enough to make a good old boy go crazy.

As Will points out, Blow thus casually pronounces that conservatives are all “misogynistic, homophobic, racist anti-Semites.” Since I personally know lots of female, gay, non-white, and Jewish conservatives, none of whom are good ol’ boys — a group with which I am also not unfamiliar — I can testify that Blow is mistaken.

Bigotry can be defined as taking a group of people who share one characteristic — race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political outlook, good-ol’-boyness, whatever — and assuming without evidence that they share another unrelated and undesirable characteristic. All blondes are dumb, for instance.

By that definition, Charles Blow is a bigot.

When it comes to plain old bigotry, no. George Will in today’s column quotes Charles Blow’s March 26, 2010, column in  the Times. Blow notes that the “far right,” by which he means either mainstream conservatives or a group so small as to be of no importance, has romanticized the country of the past, a country that no longer exists. He writes:

Even the optics must be irritating. A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill’s most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It’s enough to make a good old boy go crazy.

As Will points out, Blow thus casually pronounces that conservatives are all “misogynistic, homophobic, racist anti-Semites.” Since I personally know lots of female, gay, non-white, and Jewish conservatives, none of whom are good ol’ boys — a group with which I am also not unfamiliar — I can testify that Blow is mistaken.

Bigotry can be defined as taking a group of people who share one characteristic — race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political outlook, good-ol’-boyness, whatever — and assuming without evidence that they share another unrelated and undesirable characteristic. All blondes are dumb, for instance.

By that definition, Charles Blow is a bigot.

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