[Marxism] Self-satisfied Pelosi
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 10 21:01:04 MDT 2007
Smile, Though Your Head Is Aching
By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, October 10, 2007; A02
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in a determinedly good mood when she sat
down to lunch with reporters yesterday. She entered the room beaming
and, over the course of an hour, smiled no fewer than 31 times and got
off at least 23 laughs.
But her spirits soured instantly when somebody asked about the anger of
the Democratic "base" over her failure to end the war in Iraq.
"Look," she said, the chicken breast on her plate untouched. "I had, for
five months, people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San
Francisco, angering neighbors, hanging their clothes from trees,
building all kinds of things -- Buddhas? I don't know what they were --
couches, sofas, chairs, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk."
Unsmilingly, she continued: "If they were poor and they were sleeping on
my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have
'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it's the First Amendment."
Though opposed to the war herself, Pelosi has for months been a target
of an antiwar movement that believes she hasn't done enough. Cindy
Sheehan has announced a symbolic challenge to Pelosi in California's 8th
Congressional District. And the speaker is seething.
"We have to make responsible decisions in the Congress that are not
driven by the dissatisfaction of anybody who wants the war to end
tomorrow," Pelosi told the gathering at the Sofitel, arranged by the
Christian Science Monitor. Though crediting activists for their
"passion," Pelosi called it "a waste of time" for them to target
Democrats. "They are advocates," she said. "We are leaders."
It was a rather fierce response to the party's liberal base, which
frightens many a congressional Democrat. But it wasn't out of character
for the new speaker. Pelosi's fixed and constant smile makes her appear
as if she is cutting an ad for a whitening toothpaste. But when you
listen to the words that come from her grinning maw, the smile seems
more akin to that of a barracuda.
One reporter asked about Democratic lawmakers who proposed a tax
increase for the war. "They were not making legislation; they were
making a point," Pelosi judged.
Another asked about a Republican congressman's complaints that the word
"God" was removed from certificates accompanying congressional flags. "I
don't know what his point is," Pelosi volleyed.
Complaints that she didn't go far enough on climate-change legislation?
"We did not say we were going to do any more than we did."
The Senate's stalemate on the war? "We in the House will not be
confining our legislation initiatives to what is legislatively possible
in the Senate."
Pelosi admitted no mistakes and claimed no regrets as she reflected on
her first session in the speaker's chair. "I'm very proud of the work of
this Congress," she declared. Evidently so: She repeated how "proud" she
was nine times. Passing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission made
her "very proud," while energy legislation made her "very, very proud,"
and new ethics rules made her "especially proud."
"What do you see as your greatest mistake?" asked one reporter.
Pelosi smiled. "Why don't you tell me?" she proposed. She smiled again,
then laughed. " 'Cause I think we're doing just great." She laughed again.
Even those approval ratings for Congress, in the teens and 20s, didn't
evoke regrets. "I don't like the numbers for Congress," she admitted,
but "I'm very pleased with the Democratic numbers." She then took an
unusual detour into polling minutiae. "Today the Rasmussen numbers were
the third time that we were double-digit ahead in the generic," she
reported, "and the third month in a row we were in the high 40s."
Holders of high office typically avoid discussions like that because it
makes them look, well, political. But Pelosi did not hesitate to plunge
into the political, explaining that "it was so important for us to bring
the president's numbers down two years ago on Social Security" because
it discouraged Republican candidates from running for Congress.
Pelosi may have realized that her words sounded too calculating, for at
one point she begged the reporters' indulgence for her to "be allowed a
partisan moment." She smiled at her joke, then chuckled.
The ready grin seemed at odds with other body language that suggested
Pelosi was not having an enjoyable lunch. She ignored her salad and
roll, then waved off the chicken and vegetables and left her dessert
untouched. "The tea is fine," she told the waiter, taking her first sip
more than halfway through the lunch.
But the smile had its uses. She smiled warmly while telling a reporter
in the room that his story was completely wrong. She laughed heartily
when somebody mentioned the awkward interview in which Whoopi Goldberg
expressed a lust for Pelosi's husband. She grinned when mentioning the
fight over children's health care. And she laughed while discussing how
she has "striven" to work with Bush on Iraq. "Is that a word? 'Striven'?
" she asked.
It seemed that only the antiwar advocates had the power to wipe the
smile off Pelosi's face. Speaking about ethics legislation, she boasted
that "we have drained the swamp" in Congress and pleased government
watchdog groups. "At last," she added, "some advocates from the outside
who are satisfied."
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