There’s a story about W.C.Fields, at the end of his life, when a friend visited him in the hospital. Fields was deep in study of the Bible.
“Bill, what are you doing? You’re an atheist.”
Fields looked up, eyes moist.
“Lookin’ for loopholes.”
The newly sworn Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is off to a terrible start and the start hasn’t even started. She has shown herself to be petty, unforgiving, closed to the give and take of governance and a Class B conniver, all before sitting down in the chair. The absurd goal of achieving mostly Democratic goals in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress, proves how little she understands the message of the mid-term elections. Now she has relegated herself, along with Fields, to looking for loopholes in her pre-election assurances.
Error number one was the well documented and much written about failure to seat Jane Harmon as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Harmon, a fellow Democrat and fellow Californian rated the Chair by the oldest and most honored standard in politics, seniority. Because Harmon was Harvard law-degreed, pretty, articulate and excellently credentialed for the job, Pelosi made the self-conscious error of preventing another California star from shining as brightly as herself.
They say the two were once friends. Hey, what are friends for?
Nancy Pelosi suffers from low self-esteem, there’s no other explanation. It’s the only diagnosis consistent with her absolute need for control and acquiescence over all matters of party. Without listing her additional stumbles, Pelosi’s machinations all point to a leader who is unsure and needy.
That’s not what she promised before November 7th and is exactly the opposite of electoral expectations. Don’t be surprised if the public shows little patience with business as usual and merely different pigs at the trough.
We have had enough of partisanship. We’re looking for effective governance and that’s no more likely from Democrats than Republicans, if they’re equally subjugated to the iron fist of dictatorial leaders. The nation has had its fill of representation by payoff. We’re sick to death of finger-pointing, tired of deficits, weary of war.
Pelosi plans to substitute glitz for substance, promising the first 100 hours of the incoming legislative session to disconnect lobbyist and lawmaker, increase (from what unknowable standard, she does not say) homeland security, raise the minimum wage, fund stem cell research, gut prescription drug prices, cut student loan interest rates and free the country from its dependence on international oil.
Thus, in one overwhelming campaign, the arrogant and impatient Speaker of the House threatens to knock the hopes of a disenchanted electorate into the ash heap of failed promises and savage partisanship. While her freshman representatives are still trying to find their way to the washroom and figure out the buttons on their phones, she may find
- Breaking the back of K-Street lobbyists will take enormous bi-partisan cooperation
- Homeland security (as in Department of) is a black-hole of incompetence, stupidity, graft, understaffing, political appointment and mindlessness.
- The minimum wage can probably be raised, a meaningless sop to decades of Democratic doctrine.
- Funding stem cell research is probably also doable and long past due.
- Doing anything useful about prescription drug prices depends almost entirely upon the K-Street break, which is not all that likely in the short-term.
- Cutting student loan interest rates is merely a transfer of tax dollars, not always to the needy.
- Even the laughable suggestion of ‘freeing’ our dependence on international oil is not only disingenuous, but absurd within the time-frame.
And so, it seems as if a mere three of seven goals are even slightly achievable. The cost of a hundred-hour crunch, in terms of bi-partisan legislation, is unacceptable. Democrats promised better government. Rather than miracles, they promised a turning-away from partisanship toward governance.
The time is ripe. The possibility exists. The leadership is exactly wrong in the self- aggrandizing beginnings of Nancy Pelosi’s term as Speaker. Dennis Hastert, we hardly knew ye.