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An Almost Flawless Pelosi Day

Yesterday was a gem of a day for the Democratic Party and especially for Nancy Pelosi, who became the new Democratic Speaker of the House. Pelosi, with her big eyes and radiant face, illuminated the House with new optimism about the joys children bring, about the “sky being the limit” for women, and about a new era of civil political discourse. A great gem, but not quite flawless.

In her speech accepting the speakership, Nancy Pelosi said:

I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship. And I look forward to working with ... the Republicans in the Congress for the good of the American people.

Her introduction was as brilliant as the rest of the program for the day. I learned that she did not enter politics until she was 47 and her children no longer needed daily attention - something that proves to me that she has an excellent grasp of real values. Now she is basking in the light of her 6 grandchildren. I learned that as the first woman speaker, she expects many more women to follow her. Wonderful. Maybe women will elevate our politics from the swamps it has been in.

All well and good. But the real gem of the day was the passing of new ethics rules. This was necessary to replace the culture of corruption with a culture of ethics and good government. This was promised by the Democrats, and I am happy to say that all members - both Republicans and Democrats - of the House, except one, voted for the new rules.

The new ethics rules rein in the power of lobbyists. Representatives cannot accept gifts and meals from lobbyists. All trips paid for by private entities must be approved in advance and must be disclosed. Use of corporate jets is forbidden. (Disclosure of earmarks is being discussed today.)

Yes, the day sparkled like a diamond. However, the diamond had a flaw. This is what Pelosi said in her speech:

Let us join together in the first 100 hours to make this, the Congress, the most honest and open Congress in history.

The new ethics rules will help achieve honesty. Openness, however, will be harder to achieve. Pelosi vowed to stop the majority-party practice of keeping minority-party members on the sidelines. Both Republicans and Democrats would be full participants in debates about bills. But on the first and most important day of the new Congress, Democrats are saying they will push through the 100-hour program with no real input from Republicans.

This is wrong. This is a big mistake. This is a flaw. Sure, the Republicans are hypocritical for complaining about this. But this is no reason for Democrats to go in payback mode. Pelosi campaigned that Democrats would change the tone in Congress. She did not say the tone would be changed after 100 hours.

Democrats are afraid that Republicans will try to sabotage their 100-hour program. Of course, some will try. But enough Republicans will act honorably to pass the 100-hour package. There will be some changes and modifications. But the major result will be a better and more productive Congress.

Yesterday, was an almost-flawless Pelosi day. Pelosi can make her future days as speaker sparkle like a flawless diamond by opening the 100-hour program to all members.

Posted by Paul Siegel at January 5, 2007 5:25 PM
Comment #201656

When I started reading your article, Paul, I was afraid it was going to be hagiographic. I’m glad you pointed out her plan not to allow Republican contribution to the 100-hour program (I just can’t make myself use the word “input” —gack!). I agree that it is a mistake. It may make tactical sense but, as you say, we need both parties working together. We shouldn’t mimic the Republican Congress.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 5:57 PM
Comment #201660

Trent & Paul

I do not know if getting Republican “input” would have been good or bad, but this is politics. I really did not expect anything else. Politicians get “input” from opponents when they have to. Otherwise they go it alone.

I do not fault Pelosi for this. I am a little surprised anybody expected something different. That is the triumph of hope over experience.

Posted by: Jack at January 5, 2007 6:08 PM
Comment #201666

Did you see the pitiful,, absolutly patheic and ridiculous congressional republicans having the nerve to cry that Pelosi didn’t sign her “Bill of Rights” for the minority.

They were actually serious. The very same bill Mrs. Pelosi sent to Hasttert that DIDN’T EVEN get the favor of a reply and these guys have the nerve to call her partisan for not signing it right off.

Lame beyond belief.

Posted by: muirgeo at January 5, 2007 6:39 PM
Comment #201667

Republicans had 6 years to put into the issues that are in the first 100 hours and never allowed them to see the light of day much less a vote.

Dems were right to exclude them from this portion…after that we can see if they are interested in being bipartisan…I don’t trust them a bit. All you have to do is look at their past actions and NEVER put any stock in what they say.

Posted by: muirgeo at January 5, 2007 6:43 PM
Comment #201670


Hope over experience? I may to some degree be an idealist, but I’m not blind, I hope. Tactically, acknowledging an opponent’s forthcoming points is a way to defuse them.

Posted by: Trent at January 5, 2007 6:51 PM
Comment #201673

“Republicans had 6 years to put into the issues that are in the first 100 hours and never allowed them to see the light of day much less a vote”

Why would Republicans have made stem-cell research and min wage increase priorities?
Stem-cell research is already going on and Republicans (hopefully) are still against govt enforced min wage increases.

Pelosi is off to a good, bi-partisan start? Good, keep it up, I guess.

Posted by: kctim at January 5, 2007 7:34 PM
Comment #201683

Actually a 100 hour period of tit for tat, actually makes a lot of sense to me. Republicans should experience their own rules as the minority party just a bit, to serve as a reminder that should they retake the majority ever again and lose it, Democrats may not be so kind as to limit the Republican rules to the first 100 hours, but for years.

If I were leader, I would have made it 100 days, to be sure the lesson sinks in good and solid. The congress is there so that all the American people may have a representative voice, not just those backing the majority party.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 5, 2007 8:48 PM
Comment #201685

The out come of the 100-hour thingie won’t be any different if they are aloud to participate. The dems control all of Congress, that is absolute power. All the repubs could do is whine.

I say let them participate, it will only prove the dems all the more honest in their integrity.

They did say “an equal and fair congress”, they should live up to what they promise.

If not just to rub it in Bush’s face… I would.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at January 5, 2007 9:02 PM
Comment #201691


It appears that Pelosi is going to try like hell to deliver on her promise. It also appears that the Republicans are going to do everything they can to stop her in her tracks.

Pelosi is trying to improve life for working class American’s.

The obstructionist Republicans are trying to stop her.

Did I leave anything out?

Posted by: KansasDem at January 5, 2007 9:57 PM
Comment #201697

Bryan, Republicans could have proposed so many amendments that literally nothing passed in the first 100 hours. That delay and obstruct tactic was what was avoided by precluding minority amendments in the first 100 hours.

It is regrettable to the extreme that both parties play these obstructionist games to score points, but, until voters have said “enough” by voting most incumbents out of office for these games, they will continue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 5, 2007 11:23 PM
Comment #201700

I am not opposed to Democrats working in partnership with Republicans. I rather doubt that it will be effective. The veto will be the test.

Posted by: jlw at January 5, 2007 11:44 PM
Comment #201710

“I am not opposed to Democrats working in partnership with Republicans.”


Nor am I, but just for instance: Bush has already said that he’ll sign a minimum wage increase bill “if it includes some goodies for small business”. Of course that equates to “mom-n-pops” to the common man but that’s hardly true. Check out the government’s idea of “small business sometime.

The best thing we Democrats can do is send a “one bill/one purpose” bill to the Presidents desk to expose Bush for what he is. It won’t reveal a “compassionate conservative”. Then when he veto’s the bill we can see whether the needed number of Republicans vote to overide the veto.

They won’t. We’ll soon see just who stands along side the working Joe (or Josephine). “Pay/Go” and “one bill/one purpose” will expose the parties for what they really are today.

Republicans love to say they’re the party of Lincoln. Some Democrats, myself included, love to connect themselves to Roosevelt and Truman.

Both parties have drifted far from those principles. The times, they are a’ changin’. If our Democratic Republic survives we’ll be stronger than ever.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 6, 2007 1:50 AM
Comment #201712

I just think it’s hilarious that Pelosi didn’t want to spend the time changing the rules that Republicans operated under. It’s the Republican’s own procedural rules that are keeping them out in the cold.

She’ll get around to tearing down the wall of exclusion that Republicans built when they thought they’d remain in power forever. Eventually, she’ll get around to it. LOL!

Posted by: American Pundit at January 6, 2007 2:12 AM
Comment #201720

Lefties rejoice! A new era of partnership politics is upon us.
Reality check…
Who will take corruption out of politics? William Jefferson, Harrry Reid? If Reid is incorruptible, then he should of remembered the 80s saying,”just say no,” when Abramoff approached him.
Lobbyist reform is impossible. Lobbyists are like oxygen to a politician. Try to choke yourself and see how successful you are. Just rhetoric.
Will they quit their partisan ways? No. The way to keep your power is, when your enemy is down, kick him in the groin. The Dems know this.
If you want to be hopeful, now that your team won, be hopeful. Bask in the sunlight for 100 hours. The reality is, the Senate has been controlled by libs for some time and it has been a frustrating debacle. Congress did not belong to the Reps and now to the Dems. It has been the Congress of both parties. If you want real reform, come out of the sunlight for a bit and into the dark pits of politics and put in some work.

Posted by: JoeRWC at January 6, 2007 6:31 AM
Comment #201775

JoeRWC, well said!

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 6, 2007 5:25 PM
Comment #201784

A sure antidote to W’s veto pen will the the oversight hearings in both the House and Senate. As the public becomes increasingly aware of the administration’s incompetence and criminality, an increasing number of GOPers in both House and Senate will provide votes to override any vetos. Each of the Democratic agenda items has overwhelming (>70 percent) support from the public. The only hope these GOP lawmakers of preventing another huge loss of seats in both houses in 2008 is to respond to the people affirmatively. And, as things continue to deteriorate in Iraq under W’s mis-leadership, GOP lawmakers will ultimately have to put W in a cage.

It does appear that W has done one good thing for the country: returned the GOP to long-term minority status where conservative parties function most effectively in their historical role as a modulator of government.

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at January 6, 2007 6:52 PM
Comment #201837

The Rep leadership had every intention of stonewalling Pelosis and the Dems agenda so they could later say the Dems broke their promise.Seems they did not get the memo about bi-partisanship. Its easy to do. Just offer a hundred amendments to a bill etc. Do forget that the Dems did recieve a mandate to pass that agenda. Now they are doing what the voters told them to do. The country deserves a minimum wage increase without more tax cuts for the dirt bag companies that will be effected. The country deserves ethics rule improvments and deficit reduction and the Dems are going to do that. Maybe the Reps will learn that their job,as the minority party is to improve legislation,not impede it.

Posted by: BillS at January 7, 2007 1:22 AM
Comment #201849


Cindy Sheehan has already asked about impeachment and Iraq. The Dems say “NO.”

Posted by: JoeRWC at January 7, 2007 9:47 AM
Comment #201896

JoeRWC: I said nothing about impeachment… you migh want to read my post more carefully before you react. I do not want W impeached. The Democratic party does not want W impeached. The GOP does not want W impeached. An emasculated W is exactly what is needed in the WH—and no one, not even the GOP, wants Dick Cheney as president. And fortunately, it will be GOP members of congress who will emasculate W and bring an end to his imperial presidency.

When 2008 arrives, the Democratic Party will take the WH and gain a filibuster-proof Senate… this is what it will take to fix the post-Bush presidency mess and post-GOP congressional mess as well as to constructively address the serious issues which face the nation.

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at January 7, 2007 3:49 PM
Comment #202462

I hate to be pessimistic, but I honestly think the whole “bipartisanship” thing may be greatly overblown. Our country needs healing but first we need justice and accountability. The fact is we need our country’s leaders to focus on doing what’s right for the American people and fixing this mess, not worrying about “offending” the other side when the other side has proven they don’t care about either of those. When it comes to solving our problems, it doesn’t make much sense to count on the very people who created them to help solve them. It would be like after World War II was over, because of some need to be bipartisan or fair, we turned to the Nazi leaders to help rebuild Germany and fix it up after Nazism was defeated. Instead we held them accountable and they got what was coming to them; I’m not saying the GOP is remotely as bad as the Nazis but the basic analogy is true. Blind bipartisanship is flawed in the same way “fair and balanced” journalism is, often one side simply is wrong and the other is right.

Just like you said, the Republicans would have tried everything they could to actually stop Pelosi’s badly needed 100-hour agenda, if this isn’t evidence enough that they don’t care about working honestly with Democrats I don’t know what is.

If the mess the GOP got us into was simply an honest mistake and they were sorry it would be different, but they’ve shown they can’t be trusted and care only about serving themselves and their corporate buddies not the American people. Sure now maybe some Republicans are trying to distance themselves from Bush, but of course if Bush’s poll numbers were still high and it didn’t hurt them politically they’d still be running this country down the toilet as usual. If they want to be taken seriously, they should start by taking responsibility for their actions (funny they say the GOP is the party of personal responsibility) and apologizing to the country. Instead they’re just doing what they’ve been doing, going on Fox news, trying desperately to make the Democrats look just as bad and trying to use spin to convince people they’re being unfairly attacked.

I said nothing about impeachment… you migh want to read my post more carefully before you react. I do not want W impeached. The Democratic party does not want W impeached. The GOP does not want W impeached. An emasculated W is exactly what is needed in the WH—and no one, not even the GOP, wants Dick Cheney as president. And fortunately, it will be GOP members of congress who will emasculate W and bring an end to his imperial presidency.

I’m not saying I necessarily agree with impeachment especially at this time but impeachment doesn’t have to mean Cheney will become the president. The administration (at least all the significant members) could be impeached easily, starting not just with Iraq but with breaking the Constitution and the questionable circumstances Bush was elected president under. Pretty much all of them openly agreed and supported Bush at every turn and thus would be guilty as well.

Posted by: Thomas at January 11, 2007 12:17 AM
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