Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a 15-year member of the House of Representatives, appears poised to succeed Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., as the House minority leader. If one reads the recent Republican off-year victories as an endorsement of Bush’s policies (or at least a rejection of the Bush’s-policies-killed-the-economy position) and support for Bush’s war on terrorism, Pelosi’s ascension shows the Democrats just don’t get it.
If she wins, Pelosi replaces Gephardt, a “moderate” whom the National Journal in 2000 gave a 68 percent liberal rating on social issues and an 84 percent liberal rating on economic issues. By contrast, Pelosi received scores of 94 percent and 92 percent, respectively.
On issue after issue, Pelosi stands not only to the left of mainstream Americans, but to the left of mainstream Democrats.
Pelosi endorsed the re-election of Gary Condit, D-Calif., just before the primary election when even Condit’s Democratic colleagues abandoned him. “I endorsed Gary for re-election a long time ago,” said Pelosi in a statement, declaring his re-election bid “a matter between Gary and his constituents.”
Pelosi opposed the use of force to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Yes, she voted for the 1991 resolution authorizing the use of force, but did so only as a show of support for the troops, not as an endorsement for the use of force. “One [thing] is that we must continue to express our disagreement with this policy. Those of us who are against the use of force,” said Pelosi, “have a special responsibility to express our disagreement in a peaceful and nonviolent way. There should be no doubt that we have strong disagreement with the policy here.”
Pelosi voted against the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush’s possible use of force against Iraq.
Pelosi voted against the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. At the time, Pelosi said, “If this bill passes today it will be a victory for the political spin artists and it will be a defeat for the children of America. The cuts in this bill will diminish the quality of life for children and poor families in America. How can a country as great as America ignore the needs of America’s infants and children who were born into poverty?” Even most Democrats now salute the success of the Welfare Reform Act in dramatically reducing those on the welfare rolls, without the predicted legions of the sick, the poor and the elderly sleeping on sewer grates and living in dumpsters.
She opposed President George W. Bush’s tax cut. Even The Washington Post called the tax cut “fortuitously well timed,” and chastised former Vice President Al Gore for attributing the softening of the economy to Bush. “To blame the weak American economy on Mr. Bush,” said the Post editorial, “is nonsense.” But last year, Pelosi called the tax cut “a new level of recklessness and irresponsibility.”
Pelosi favors more gun control, despite a recent Fox News poll showing that 76 percent of Americans consider additional gun-control laws futile in stopping crimes like the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings.
Pelosi voted against the Homeland Security Act, currently held up by Democrats to ensure civil service protection for 170,000 members of the new department. Bush wants the flexibility for his new Cabinet secretary to go around civil service laws in order to hire and fire some department employees, on the grounds of national security. The Democrats seek to deny the president this hire-and-fire ability, and also to strip him of the power to exclude the new agency, due to national security concerns, from union collective bargaining – a power employed by President John F. Kennedy and used by every president since Jimmy Carter.
Regarding the environment, Pelosi does not know the meaning of cost vs. benefit. “With us,” said Pelosi, “the environment is not an issue, it’s an ethic, it’s a value.”
On social issues, Pelosi supports gay marriage, as well as government-provided needles to combat AIDS. Whatever one thinks of those positions, most Americans do not support them.
Will Pelosi, upon assuming the post, shift to the center? Not if her ascension reflects the expectations of people like Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s former campaign manager. For a view into Brazile’s mindset, recall that she once called the GOP the party of the “white boys.” She also said, “Republicans bring out Colin Powell and J.C. Watts because they have no program, no policy. They play that game because they have no love and no joy. They’d rather take pictures with black children than feed them.”
Regarding Pelosi’s expected leadership, Brazile said, “Nancy is our best answer: Someone who is willing to take a risk. She is not a cautious leader. And she is going to help us remain competitive against the Republicans.”
They just don’t get it.