It’s good to see Nancy Pelosi get some positive coverage. I wish the article went into more detail on what’s probably the grandest achievement of her political career to date — holding the Democratic caucus together to destroy Bush’s Social Security Privatization initiative in 2005.
Of the 200+ Democrats in the House, only one defected to Bush’s side. Without bipartisan cover on an issue where Democrats have historically had the most credibility, and without enough Democratic support to make up for differences within the GOP caucus on how to make the finances work out (higher taxes? more debt? benefit cuts?) the Republicans simply couldn’t get a plan through. Social Security was saved.
That was the point when I regained my optimism about the Democratic Party. Pelosi wouldn’t do on Social Security what her predecessor, Dick Gephardt, had done on the war — get bullied into supporting disastrous policies by an overconfident president. (Harry Reid, for his part, did a similarly good job in the Senate.) Pelosi and Reid dealt George Bush the most devastating legislative defeat a president has had since the failure of the Clinton health care plan in 1994.
So when 2009 comes around and it’s time to pass health care reform and whatever other domestic policy initiatives we want, we can be confident that the House side of the game will be in good hands.
I highlight this mostly because there are two people running against Pelosi, one in the primary tomorrow and another as an independent candidate in the fall. Both of these people think she’s not liberal enough, hasn’t done enough to impeach Bush, to enact single-payer healthcare, to end the war, etc.
I wish that those people would spend a few years living in Kansas, or even in Bakersfield, CA. They’d realize that what’s holding Pelosi back is not her own political desires. If we had 290 Nancy Pelosis in the House, and 67 in the Senate, we’d have all of those policies. With 218 in the House, 60 in the Senate and one in the White House, we’d have them also. The thing is, we don’t have a few hundred Nancy Pelosis in Congress. If Cindy Sheehan and Shirley Golub want to enact their policies, they should be doing everything they can to replace Todd Tiahrt with Donald Betts, Pat Roberts with Jim Slattery, and ensuring that obstructionist congresscritters in every other district face challenges.
Running against Nancy Pelosi, however, is stupid and naive, and makes these candidates and their supporters look stupid and naive. Does anyone believe that a dollar spent on Golub’s primary campaign couldn’t be better spent electing Charlie Brown in the open congressional seat just in northeastern California? Or in a primary campaign against incumbents who voted for the war in Iraq, for the bankruptcy bill, CAFTA, a police state, and the rest of the Bush agenda?