McConnell Still Ignoring His Own Massive Failure

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

Listening to Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi definately brings out a contrast in leadership. While Ms. Pelosi as Speaker of the House is trying in difficult situations to clean up a huge mess left behind by failed Republican Rule during the Bush years, and all Mitch McConnell can do is blame someone else for the problems he himself and his greedy, visionless party have created.

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House Unveils Healthcare Plan, Uncertain Fate Awaits in Senate

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

After President Obama came back from overseas and "persuaded" Congress to get serious about Healthcare, lawmakers in the House have gotten on the ball. They unveiled their plan today to overhaul the system. It has a lot of good things in it, but predictably awaits an uncertain fate in the "House of Lords" known as the U.S. Senate and will probably draw opposition from Corporate Democrats as well as Republicans.

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A lot of Republicans owe Pelosi an apology

In May a chorus of Republicans inside and outside Congress made hay out of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claim that the Central Intelligence Agency had not revealed its waterboarding policy during a 2002 briefing. Many demanded an investigation into the allegations. Minority leader John Boehner said of Pelosi,

"She made this claim and it's her responsibility to either put forward evidence that they did in fact lie to her, which would be a crime, or she needs to retract her statements and apologize."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was among the Republican talking heads who demanded Pelosi's resignation. According to Gingrich, Pelosi's assertion was "stunning" and "dishonest."

Representative Steve "10 Worst" King (IA-05) accused Pelosi of "actively undermining our national security" and called for suspending the speaker's security clearance:

Speaker Pelosi has accused the CIA of committing a federal crime - lying to Congress. The CIA and other American defense and intelligence agencies cannot trust Nancy Pelosi with our national secrets, let alone our national security, until this matter is resolved. If true, there has been a serious violation of federal law. If false, American national security requires a new Speaker of the House. The severity of Speaker Pelosi's accusations leaves no middle ground, and her security clearance should be suspended pending investigation.

Now we have learned that

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency's director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday. [...]

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

So not only was Congress misled, CIA staff did not even inform Panetta about the program until four months after he was sworn in. Charles Lemos is absolutely right that it's time for a special prosecutor to investigate this matter.

Republicans who trashed Pelosi in May and June owe her an apology, but like Rude Pundit, I'm not holding my breath. They've always been easygoing about Bush administration law-breaking while throwing fits about Democrats who criticized it.

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Is Pelosi as Unpopular as CW Says She Is?

The short answer is no. And that answer has been the same for years.

I remember the 2006 cycle. The common wisdom inside the Beltway said that although the Democrats had a shot at retaking the House of Representatives, their leader Nancy Pelosi was too liberal and too divisive for the country, and would thus serve as a drag on her party's chances. Republicans even ran ads to this effect, trying to hit Democratic candidates in competitive districts for being too much like Nancy Pelosi. But as I predicted at the time, the tactic didn't work at all.

Looking back, too, at the past cycle, I remember how Republicans tried to make the three special elections in Republican-held districts about Nancy Pelosi. As I said after one of them, even in districts where Republicans were supposed to win, the tactic of tying Democratic candidates to Nancy Pelosi was simply not effective.

Republicans, of course, have not learned the lesson and still hold out hope that the Speaker is their magic bullet, that somehow after two cycles of the tactic being ineffective it will begin to work. But looking through the current polling, I remain skeptical.

No doubt, Nancy Pelosi is not a particularly popular figure in American politics. Her approval and favorability ratings sit in or around the 30s. She is no Barack Obama. But that's intentional. The Speaker is playing her role, serving in a way as the bad cop to the President's good cop (in the sense that Barack Obama continues to run against Congress and the status quo in Washington as President, just as he did as candidate). And inasmuch as Pelosi is a sort of lightning rod for discontent with the administration and the Democrats more broadly, she is not particularly unpopular.

Take a look at the numbers. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 38 percent approving of Pelosi's job as Speaker and 45 percent voicing disapproval -- not great numbers, but also not terrible numbers. Indeed, they are better than most of the polls on Newt Gingrich during his time as Speaker, when his disapproval rating consistently stood above 50 percent, reaching as high as 65 percent in ABC/WaPo polling and 62 percent in Gallup polling. No survey, with the exception of the unevenly weighted Harris poll (which lumps the ambivalent rating of "fair" into the disapproval column), has shown Pelosi's disapproval rating to top 50 percent. Looking, too, at favorability numbers, for every survey that shows Pelosi with an unfavorable rating above 50 percent (at times a factor of respondents being pushed into delineating an opinion they do not strongly hold) there is a survey, like the most recent one from Pew, showing Pelosi's unfavorable number to be just 41 percent.

The common wisdom is wrong about Nancy Pelosi, just as it has been for at least three years. While she isn't a tremendously popular political figure, she is not nearly as unpopular as she is made out to be within Beltway circles -- and certainly not such an unpopular figure as to serve as a significant drag on her party.

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Everything old is new again

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Iowa today for a major fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (minimum donation $2,500). She's also tacked on a public event to discuss stimulus spending on education in Iowa.

The occasion gave us a glimpse of cutting-edge Republican strategery. First, there was the boilerplate cheap shot comment to the press:

Republican Party of Iowa Executive Director Jeff Boeyink said he's surprised any Iowa congressional Democrats would want to appear with her. [...]

"We don't think her values are Iowa values," Boeyink said.

True to state party chairman Matt Strawn's promise to get the Republican message out using social media, the Iowa GOP highlighted the report with Boeyink's quote on their Twitter feed.

I guess Boeyink hasn't seen recent nationwide polls showing Democrats still have a wide lead on the generic Congressional ballot. Since Iowa votes fairly closely to the national average, I'll bet Republican House leaders are less in line with Iowa values than Pelosi.

Meanwhile, Blog for Iowa's Trish Nelson received a National Republican Congressional Committee robocall last night, using Pelosi's visit to bash Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02). Click over to read the transcript of the call, which was recorded on Nelson's answering machine. Its warnings about Pelosi's "liberal agenda" and "San Francisco values" give it a "back to the future" flavor.

Wake me up when the Party of No comes up with some message that's not 25 years old.

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