Thoughts for a Saturday

I've learned three things from watching the Casey debate.  Casey will support a nuclear strike on Iran, wants to 'fix' Social Security, and feels that civility is the problem in the debate over abortion.  He also wants a higher minimum wage.

Stirling is blogging from China.

And Ian Welsh has an interesting take on the Pelosi-Reid analysis.

What's Harry Reid done for you lately? Was he there on Roberts? What about Alito? Could he bothered to even rally enough Dems to come close to a filibuster on the man who pioneered Presidential signing statements and who has perjured himself in front of Congress in the past? (Of course, since Reid is a pro-life conservative who thinks forced child birth is wonderful I wouldn't expect him to try and stop Alito because women could lose the right to safe, legal abortions.)

Let me tell you the advice I'd give Nancy Pelosi - do one spectacular piece of theater for the netroots, once, like Reid, and you you can cruise on that and betray them when it really matters, and they'll suck it up and kiss your butt. I'm guessing one good piece of theater is probably good for a year or so of free passes on real issues. Give them their theater, then sell them down the river.

Nancy Pelosi seems to be some sort of whipping girl for the Progressive blogosphere these last few months. I'll tell you this - she isn't perfect, but she is, actually, a liberal, not a conservative. She did, actually, support Murtha when it mattered. She has increased caucus discipline immensely and forced House Republicans to keep sessions open past midnight, twisting arms, to pass bills. She needs to learn theater, I agree, but I'm tired of the netroots puckering up for Reid and bitch-slapping Pelosi when, objectively, Reid has betrayed progressive principles in far more serious ways.

Reid's a fighter. I respect him as a person. But if you're a progressive or a liberal and you think Reid is in your corner, you have been played.

Not sure I agree with everything, but I am gaining a bit of respect for Pelosi as someone who maintains caucus cohesion and forces Republicans into awkward positions.  That said, she isn't very good at communications, she doesn't really move the caucus to her, and her management style is opaque.  Ian is right about Reid.  He isn't really leading.  For instance, he has been nowhere on censure, which at this point is just weird.  The activist energy on behalf of censure had to go somewhere, and if you don't support censure you have to provide an alternative channel.  

Now, both leaders have less leverage to use on wayward members than Republicans do, which makes leadership more difficult.  But in my mind, the honeymoon for Reid is ending.  The Bankruptcy Bill was bad, but the lack of leadership on censure is too abrupt not to note.

Tags: Alan Sandals, Bob Casey, Chuck Pennachio, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi (all tags)



Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

I agree.  My beef is NOT with how Pelosi does her job, keeps a disciplined caucus, or that she's not sufficiently and steadfastly progressive.  She's done all those things and she's great at that aspect of her position.  It's just that when I see her on TV or give a speech, I cringe and shudder to what middle-of-the-road flyover voters think of her.

by jgarcia 2006-04-08 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

For a while I've been thinking of writing a diary entitled "Sexism in the Blogosphere" critiquing the blogospheres treatment of Pelosi versus the treatment of Reid. I actually completely agree with Welsh- that we shouldnt blame Nancy Pelosi for her faults. Because frankly, she is probably the most competent Democratic leader in both the House and Senate since Tip O'Neill. Also, she is probably the best member of Congress at whipping besides the Hammer. She is a founder of the Progressive Caucus. Not to mention that, but she has her own pet progressive issue- human rights in China, which is quite a good one, I might add.

The thing about Pelosi that you have to understand is that she grew up in a political era where getting elected depended on alliances and connections, not dealing with clowns in the corporate media. (Her father was Tommy D'Alesandro, the founder of the famed D'Alesandro machine in Baltimore) She is her father's daughter, and she's also 66, so she's probably not going to be introducing a whole lot of new political tactics anytime soon, so we should make do with gentle suggestions, while openly challenging Reid.

by liberalminded 2006-04-08 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

As one of Pelosi's constituents, I think you've got it here. That she should have become Speaker at all, given her progressive record, is a feat bespeaking extraordinary competence within the caucus. Those boys can't have wanted some progressive lady from San Francisco.

That said, her style has never been participatory. Before being elected, she was a party fund raiser -- just the appropriate background for her current role.

And her entire experience in her home district is of being under more fire from the left than the right. (We don't have much of a right -- and what we have is the developer kind, not the ideological kind.) This results in her being fairly reliably progressive in her own votes. And it gives her good habits of mind which have some carry over into national politics.

by janinsanfran 2006-04-09 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

I agree with Ian Welsh about Pelosi.  SHe has really become a whipping post here despite the fact that her record is very progressive.  Also, being in the minority in the House makes you practically powerless.  In the past few months she has started making the House Dems semi-relavent which is no small task considering the House rules are completely stacked against the minority.

Reid's stands on issues are not as good as Pelosi but I like his fighting style.  

by John Mills 2006-04-08 05:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a three part series on Nancy Pelosi this past week.  It's an interesting read.  I have been a bit dubious about Pelosi.  She seems to come off as a screechy witch.  Having read all three articles, I have a new respect for her.

The link to the 1st article is here: /c/a/2006/04/02/MNGSHI24ON1.DTL

Links to the remaining articles can be found in the article.

by pax 2006-04-08 07:57PM | 0 recs

As a former critic of Pelosi, I need to read more.

In the main I think a lot of my (and others') reaction comes from how she plays in the media.  Harry comes off as pretty strong, and she comes off very wishy-washy.

But, as I tell people about Republicans, look at what they do, not what they say.

So, thanks for the link.

by Marc in KS 2006-04-09 04:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

I'd completely missed these pieces - thanks.

Much good stuff there (though I get a certain pulling for the hometown team feeling about some of it! - and I'm only halfway through. I'd no idea her father was a honcho of a genuine, old-style Eastern Dem machine back in the middle decades of the last century.

And the numbers on Pelosi's performance as leader I'd want to prod a bit:

Congressional Quarterly examined 669 roll call votes in 2005 in which a majority of Republicans voted against a majority of Democrats. On those votes, Democratic members voted unanimously against the GOP 82 times, and with their own party 88 percent of the time, the highest total since the magazine began measuring in 1956.

Of course, 1956 was the year of the Southern Manifesto, for crying out loud.

And those southern Dem conservatives have taken an unconscionable long time dying. The party has certainly got a whole lot more ideologically coherent over the period (though sometimes that's a little hard to believe!).

Final thought - note in the second piece Pelosi's evident glee that Schwarzenegger's anti-gerrymander initiative failed to pass:

Last summer, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put a redistricting measure on the November ballot that could have forced Democratic incumbents to face much more competitive congressional races, Pelosi took it as a spear aimed at her party's heart.

Proposition 77, which would have taken the power to draw congressional districts out of the hands of legislators and given it to retired judges, could have tightened races and dramatically reduced the amount of campaign money California Democrats had left over to send to other states after defending their own seats.

But Pelosi rallied her colleagues to stop it. She called on members of California's delegation to raise $100,000 each to defeat the measure, then she rounded up contributions from representatives in other states, including Maryland, New York, Connecticut and Arizona.

So - for the benefit of the LULAC crowd and the other goo-goo Dems who bellyache about the DeLay TX redistricting, let's sing it loud:

Nancy Pelosi lurves the gerrymander!

by skeptic06 2006-04-09 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

I'm still actually pretty startled at the visceral reactions to Pelosi.

I'm really not sure what she's done wrong?

Do people expect her to be able to shut down the House? The rules of the Senate are drastically different from the House. I doubt she has the ability to do such dramatic things. That's really how the two bodies have been designed to behave.

The Senate is still an elitist body. It's supposed to be in some ways. That's why a minority can stur things up in such an obvious way. The House really isn't supposed to operate that way.

I say this realizing that my understanding of House rules is drastically lacking compared to my understanding of Senate rules.

I just don't think Pelosi can get away with the same stuff.


by phatass 2006-04-08 08:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

I think the acceptance of Reid and the discontent with Pelosi has little to do with ideology - it has to do with aggressiveness.

Reid appears to help the party by actually being willing to take the gloves off and insult the adminstration or use parlamentary rules to kill Republican bills (a la immigration reform). Reid also seems more willing to let other Democrats attack: didn't help the fillibuster of Alito, but he didn't kill it either. Similarly he hasn't killed the censure. He seems to understand the value of a no-comment instead of a "I think that's a bad idea."

Pelosi is in our poor graces, if for no other reason then she has tried to smack down other Democrats doing good work (Murtha and Feingold) (I don't buy the 'she was helping Murtha by pretending to oppose him' meme). She has an element of Liebermanitis - a tendency to attack her own. Perhaps this has come because she has been fighting for more discipline. If so, I think (and I suspect a lot of people think) that is too high a price to pay for the appearance of spinelessness.

by alchemi 2006-04-08 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

What I like about Reid is how he effectively insults Republicans; and reduces their spin to putty.

Here's the latest quote from a Reid spokesperson regarding the possibility of bringing up the issue of immigration to the Senate floor in the future:

"Jim Manley, spokesman for Mr. Reid, said Democrats are eager to address the issue again. 'We can deal with that instead of such things as the eliminating the estate tax, the gay-marriage ban or the flag-burning amendment,' he said."

by notime4lies 2006-04-08 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

I wonder just how much our attitudes about Reid and Pelosi have been infected by the press portrayal of them. We have all seen just how the press comes to accept talking points as fact.

When Pelosi became the leader the talking point was she was a San Francisco liberal who bought her election and would hurt the democrats.

When Reid became leader the talking point was that the Democrats were moving to the center.

This has infected all coverage of them since.

by Judeling 2006-04-08 09:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

Welsh is far too soft on Pelosi, but exactly right on Reid. The man is a Republican, plain and simple, and has always been a Republican since day one. The fact that anyone ever gave him a "honeymoon" to begin with is pathetic.

by rhealdeal 2006-04-08 10:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

So if Reid is an ineffective minority leader, who should replace him? Durbin seems like he'd be even weaker. Dodd? Dorgan? Hillary? Obama (someday--too junior at this point)? Feingold? Kerry? someone's got to make something happen for Dems in the senate, as Reid's not it.

by kovie 2006-04-09 04:34AM | 0 recs
What are the rules for Dem leadership elections?

Will elections for the Dem Senate leadership be triggered automatically by the start of a new Congress?

Or only if control changes?

Or only if someone challenges one of the incumbents?

(Same questions re the House.)

Clearly, since a Dem win in either house is fairly likely, senior guys in each house should be thinking about succession issues right now.

by skeptic06 2006-04-09 12:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Thoughts for a Saturday

Kerry and Durbin I think would both be much better Minority leaders. Read the Nation's article about Durbin- I doubt it is still online.

by liberalminded 2006-04-09 04:40AM | 0 recs
Something Else I Learned from Casey
Apparently, he's not Santorum -- at least that's what Casey said every time Chuck Pennacchio discussed one of Pennacchio's substantive solutions to an issue.
by Tom Ford 2006-04-09 04:48AM | 0 recs
Say it ain't so! Casey wrong on Iran, too?

I can't believe it's as you say, 'Casey will support a nuclear strike on Iran, wants to 'fix' Social Security, and feels that civility is the problem in the debate over abortion,' although I know it's true.  

He's thrown over women and the children in Philadelphia who are being slaughtered in the streets by assault weapons. I don't know what SocSec fixes he might have in mind, but the tough on nat'l security, 'yeehaw' as foreign policy, let's go nuke Iran?  It's too much.

I just hope Schumer is having nightmares over scaring Hafer out of the race. Ditto for Rendell, and Hillary who were at the Philly luncheon the day they forced Hafer to withdraw, and of course Reid, the anti-choice leader (no surprise there).

On Reid, whatever happened with the "brilliant procedural" move of dimming the lights and going into closed session.  Has any 'phase two' trickled out of the intell. committee?  I think there were some excuses last month, but the fall deadline came and went.  Attention spans are short.

by kwilkinson 2006-04-09 09:12PM | 0 recs


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