Pelosi Passes the Buck; Gore Let Off the Hook at Netroots Nation

From today's Beyond Chron.

It's no surprise that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got a tough reception at Netroots Nation - as bloggers asked about the Iraq War, impeachment and (of course) FISA.  Pelosi passed the buck on all of these issues - saying that she's let House Judiciary Chair John Conyers handle executive contempt, blamed Senate Democrats for selling out on FISA and said that only electing Barack Obama will get us out of Iraq.  When Al Gore popped in to make a surprise appearance, the crowd gave a hero's welcome to the ex-Vice President - posing a sharp contrast with Pelosi.  Bloggers cheered Gore's ambitious environmental agenda to make the United States 100% free of fossil fuel energy by 2019.  But nobody bothered to ask Gore why he didn't push for this 15 years ago when he could have done something about it.  Meanwhile, Pelosi's excuses frustrated the audience - but they each have an element of truth to them.  On the other hand, if Pelosi says she "doesn't have the votes" in Congress to get what we want, she should start being more supportive of primary challenges that bloggers wage against bad Democrats.

"God bless the impatience of youth," said Pelosi as she kicked off the Convention's main event on Saturday morning.  "That's what gives me hope.  I share your frustration in not ending this War.  We need to be persistent, relentless and unsatisfied at pushing us to where we should be.  And there are only 107 days until the Election."

Everyone expected Pelosi would get a tough crowd, and about half a dozen demonstrators from Code Pink were there to heckle her about the War.  But liberal bloggers aren't about direct-action street-level theater, preferring the tactic of asking hard-hitting questions that put politicians on the spot.  Gina Cooper of Netroots Nation even warned attendees at the beginning that anyone who disrupted the forum would be ejected, and the crowd cheered.

At the forum, Pelosi was asked questions like: (a) is impeachment back on the table?; (b) if Karl Rove is still in contempt of Congress, will he be arrested?; (c) if the FISA bill was a compromise, what was the gain? and (d) why hasn't Congress ended the War?

For the most part, Pelosi passed the buck - saying that she agreed with the frustration of bloggers, but blamed others for why no action has been taken.  On the first two points, she deferred to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers - who is leading investigations of the Bush Administration.  "We passed a resolution of contempt on the House floor," she said, "and I'm proud that we got every Democrat to vote for it.  But Mr. Conyers is in charge of the investigation, and we're in good hands with him."

On FISA, Pelosi blamed the Senate - where 17 Democrats voted with all the Republicans - for sending them a bad bill.  "Our options were limited," she said.  "It was a moment of taint.  Was the final bill [which passed both houses] a bill that I would have written?  No.  Was it better than the Senate version that had passed?  Yes."

Pelosi added that as House Speaker she has only had "two major regrets": (a) the Senate version of the FISA bill that they had to work with, and (b) failing to get 60 votes in the Senate to end the Iraq War.  Later on in the forum, she added that the only way to end the War will be to elect President Barack Obama.  Eventually, moderator Gina Cooper turned to Pelosi and said what was on a lot of peoples' minds: "it sounds like some of your colleagues must get with the program with the American people."

There's certainly truth to what Pelosi said: any effort to impeach Bush or Cheney will start at the Judiciary Committee, Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate, and even voting to defund the War won't end it until a Democratic President brings the troops home.  But while Pelosi says she is on our side, one conclusion we can draw is that she hasn't kept her colleagues in line.  The netroots have always tried to hold bad Democrats accountable - and in recent years have waged primary challenges against entrenched incumbents who vote the wrong way on issues.  The bloggers could work with Pelosi.

But Pelosi has not generally supported these challengers, actively working against the netroots.  For example, Pelosi held a fundraiser for Congressman Al Wynn - while he was getting a primary challenge from netroots favorite Donna Edwards.  Edwards won that election, and attended Netroots Nation as a newly minted Congresswoman.  In what must have been an awkward moment, Pelosi acknowledged Edwards at the beginning of the forum.

It wasn't the first time that a powerful Democrat came to a netroots Convention and faced a tough audience.  But unlike Hillary Clinton (who at last year's Yearly Kos sarcastically mocked the crowd when they booed her), Pelosi kept her grace while saying much of what the bloggers didn't agree with.  Whatever you think of her answers, she did not condescend.

While bloggers gave Pelosi a chilly reception, they enthusiastically cheered former Vice President Al Gore - who made a surprise appearance during Pelosi's forum.  "We have a historic climate crisis," said Gore.  "It's connected to an economic crisis, and the national security threat it creates. Drilling oil we won't use for 15 years to deal with gas prices now is like responding to an attack from Afghanistan by invading another country."

Gore has always been a sentimental favorite of the netroots ("I feel right at home here," he said), and the crowd eagerly responded to his challenge to eliminate fossil fuel dependency by 2019.  "I need your help," he said. "You seek to influence, and I respectfully ask for your help." And with only 11 years to get there, we don't have much time.

But nobody asked the former Vice President why he didn't agitate on these issues in the mid-1990's, when he was in a position to get things done.  If we had started this 15 years ago, eliminating fossil fuel dependency would be far more doable.  No doubt Gore is now using his "elder statesman" role to fight global warming - but the Clinton-Gore Administration was lackluster in responding to this climate crisis, such as reneging on their pledge to shut down an incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio.  When Gore ran for President in 2000, Friends of the Earth endorsed Bill Bradley in the Democratic primaries.

If the netroots insisted on giving Nancy Pelosi a hard time, why didn't they challenge Gore as well?

Tags: Al Gore, Climate change, FISA, Iraq, Nancy Pelosi, Netroots Nation (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

sorry nancy all the bucks can be passed and you still will never get a vote out of this constituant of yours again. As soon as you said you had delt away impeachment and would never tell us exactly what you had traded it for, you lost me.

by zerosumgame 2008-07-21 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

I respect both your view on impeachment and also your understanding that sometimes we trade things in politics.

There is something behind the scenes that isn't clear in the last 8 years...Too many otherwise smart people acting out of character...

by dtaylor2 2008-07-21 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

and to tell the truth that are things it may have been worth trading for, but the secrecy is what bugs me.

by zerosumgame 2008-07-21 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

"Bloggers cheered Gore's ambitious environmental agenda to make the United States 100% free of fossil fuel energy by 2019"

OMG

What a total tool.  11 years.  lmmfao.  And the netroots swallowed it hook line and sinker.

I remember Gore as a US senator, that censoring SOB.  He was one of our states worst polluters, just take a look at his background. He is an infamous river-dumper. And now he has done the environmental movement a grave disservice.  We have much more dangerous things to worry about that whether or not there is too much plant food in the atmosphere.

What about clean water, Al?

What about clean air, Al?

Al doesn't care about these things anymore.

by William Cooper 2008-07-21 11:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

I wonder why Peolsi bothered to go to NN.
You  people seem to hate her so much, why did she even take the trouble of making the trip?
There was nothing she's going to say to please the Blog Birchers and it wouldn't surprise me me if all you fine folks in Free People's Republic had your knives sharpened and your barbs ready to go befoer she even arrived at the hall.
She should hae just stayed home.

Like she hasn't heard "Mommy if you love.." or "Granma, if you love me.." before.

I wish you little old lefties in tennis shoes would be this rough on McConnell and Behner

by spirowasright 2008-07-21 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

well whatever you comment was about...

by zerosumgame 2008-07-21 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

Blog Birchers

lol!

:)

by William Cooper 2008-07-21 11:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck; Gore Let Off the Hook

I am one of those who supported Gore for President in this election cycle. But I am getting a little impatient with him. He is not going to get much change done with his outside the DC activities. He needs to invest himself in a role in the upcoming administration or advise Obama on who to select to take care of the environment.

He is at the peak of his popularity. He needs to use all the leverage while he has it. Otherwise, politicians in power are just going to pay lipservice to his message.

And it's not just global warming. He needs to spread the message more on clean water too.

by Pravin 2008-07-21 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck; Gore Let Off the Hook

BINGO!

Someone finally says it.

by William Cooper 2008-07-21 11:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck; Gore Let Off the Hook

I'm confused about an aspect of this diary.  Are you stating the the "progressive" candidate for president, if/when he becomes president, will be unable to effect change on the energy crisis and climate change without Al Gore at his side, who, btw, has stated his campaign to address such is bipartisan?

by ChitownDenny 2008-07-21 09:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck

We will never know the real reason Pelosi won't get behind impeachment.  We will never know the real reason she supported FISA.  I like that she was asked those questions, but did anyone really expect an honest answer from her?

As far as Al Gore goes - well, late to the game is better than never coming at all.   He has come a long way since his VP days.

by JustJennifer 2008-07-21 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree better late than never ...

... but global warming is in such a crisis that I have a tough time getting over Al Gore's lack of movement 15 years ago.  We'd be in much better shape if he'd been willing to ruffle feathers the way he does now.

by Paul Hogarth 2008-07-21 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree better late than never ...

Yup some crisis, as the earth is now cooling down.

How about clean air and water, and keeping our food supply unsullied?

I'm more worried about that stuff than about whether or not the earth is gonna warm up a degree over the next century.

by William Cooper 2008-07-21 11:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck; Gore Let Off the

Pelosi never fails to disappoint. She clearly spends all of her energy on excuse-making rather than being the leader she was elected to be.

Gore has been out of politics for 7 years, yet he's out there trying to effect change, and deserves much of the credit for the widespread awareness and acceptance of climate change. Gore did not become VP based on this agenda and there was no popular support for it at the time. On the other hand, Pelosi is in power right now, acts cowardly and achieves nothing. She rose to power in an election where the Republican agenda was soundly defeated and the people told Congress that we wanted the White House to be held accountable. She has completely failed to do what the people elected her to do.

He deserves praise. She deserves a scorn.

by LakersFan 2008-07-21 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Pelosi Passes the Buck, like always

I seriously disagree with your assesment of Pelosi.  I found her disdainful, condesending and talking to the crowd of the failure of the 17 Senators who sent the FISA bill to the House.

If I'm not mistaken SHE is still the Speaker of the House.  She did not have to put that version of the bill up for a vote.  How do we know?  Hastert did it all the time!  Does she think we are all that STUPID!

Pelosi said she was ashamed that it was sent and that it passed in the Senate.  So she had nothing to do with that process?  Is she ashamed that Obama voted for it?  Is she ashamed that she could have as Speaker rallied the House members in line and and defeated that version of the bill!  And still they sent a version to the Senate that immunity within it.  She said it didn't, but if that were the case, and the Senate put it back in, the House would have had to ratify the change in conference before being sent to the WH for signing.  Obviously she thinks Americans and the Netroots are stupid, and that we don't know what she actually did.

Nancy Pelosi is a blight and a shame on the Democratic Party, and is responsible for part of the stonewalling and continued shredding of the Constitution.  She should be impeached from her position and challenged hard by the Netroots when her term comes up.

by TxDem08 2008-07-21 10:52AM | 0 recs

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