Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for the ‘Pelosi’ Category

Proliferation Press: New Republic Gives Notes on Being a Successful Opposition Party

Posted by K.E. White on June 20, 2007

President Bush’s approval ratings have hit the high twenties. Fortunately his Democratic opponents aren’t fairer any better. Are Senate leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi to blame?

While Bush is on the defensive after vetoing a bill allowing increased stem cell research, John B. Judis offers some thoughtful advice to Democratic leaders in Congress:

(full text can be accessed by registering free at the New Republic)

Congress’s approval rating is even lower than President Bush’s–it’s at 23 percent according to the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. And, in another poll, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s favorability rating is down there with Scooter Libby–at 19 percent. Some Democrats blame their low standing with the public on the difficulties inherent in controlling Congress when the opposition party controls the White House. The fact is that the Democrats, with only a 50-49 majority, do not have enough votes to override White House vetoes or even to stop a Republican filibuster. But Democrats have been in this situation before, and, while they were unable to get their bills signed, they were able to place the onus of failure on the White House and on the Republicans.

If Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want guidance, they should look back at what the Democrats did during the presidential term of George H.W. Bush. The Democrats had a brilliant Senate majority leader, George Mitchell, and a competent House speaker, Tom Foley, who generally deferred to Mitchell. Mitchell and Foley forced Bush to veto popular bills that also enjoyed some Republican support in Congress. They showed up Bush as a heartless extremist and split his own party. And they handed Democrat Bill Clinton a platform on which to run in the fall of 1992.

Pelosi has fared somewhat better than Reid, but that is probably because she has managed so far to avoid the spotlight on Iraq and immigration. But neither Reid nor Pelosi have yet devised the kind of measures that Mitchell and Foley used in 1991 and 1992 to win public support for the Democrats and to split the Republicans. Most of what they have passed from their election agenda–including minimum wage and a watered-down lobbying-reform bill–will quietly be enacted into law. Except for a measure funding stem-cell research, they haven’t come up with anything comparable to Family and Medical Leave. If they want to put the Democrats in a good position to retain Congress and win the White House, they had better start thinking. And they had better avoid initiatives that divide their own party and unite the opposition.

But his advice highlights an acute Congressional deficit: action on foreign policy. While Judis’s advice may be right (Congress should never flirt with cutting war funding while troops are deployed), where does this leave America’s federal system of checks and balances?

Proliferation Press tackled Congress’s wartime roll in this earlier article.

The apparent conclusion from merging this article with Judis’s advice: Congressional influence is greatest before the deployment of troops.

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Posted in Congress, Iraq, Pelosi, Reid, Wartime Powers | Leave a Comment »

Pelosi Slips on PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer

Posted by K.E. White on February 15, 2007

Speaker Pelosi

You can listen to the interview here and read the transcript here.

Notice Nancy Pelosi’s long-winded response to Lehrer’s question of gauging the impact of a Congressional resolution critical of the Bush’s administration Iraq policy:

REP. NANCY PELOSI: This nonbinding — the motion of disapproval of the president’s escalation of the war in Iraq is going to set the stage for a whole new debate on Iraq. We’ll take care of this, this week…

JIM LEHRER: A debate among whom?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: In the Congress of the United States, and hopefully the president of the United States will hear what the American people said. They have lost faith in the president in his course of action in Iraq. In the election, they called for a new direction in Iraq.

Democrats are saying to the president: This is not the way to go. It has failed over, and over, and over, and over again. Now, let us make this statement, which is very powerful, which is very powerful, and set the stage for how we take up legislation, whether it’s the funding or the policy legislation that relates to Iraq.

Pelosi failed to succinctly address what this resolution does: Express the frustration the American public feels towards Bush’s Iraq policy.

No where did she quote the percentage of the public against the surge, nor does she explain the immense importance this resolution may have in the future.

It gives Americans accountability, a critical feature of good goverance that has been missing in the Bush administration since the beginning of the Iraq debacle.

And when asked what impact this resolution will have, Pelosi failed to focus on the difference between the war on terror and the war in Iraq.

Had she just talked about the other fronts on the war on terror (homeland security, the fear of Middle Eastern proliferation, and buoying allies like Pakistan), it would have extinguished the perception that Democrats have no plans on Iraq and are unconstructively criticizing the President.

Pelosi missed an opprotunity to show a broad Democratic view on foreign policy, with the primary focus on countering the threat of terrorism.

Instead she babbled and mixed talking points, and then focused on domestic reforms the Congress has passed.

Thus this over 10-minute interview with the face of Democrats in the House must be considered a “C” at best.

While her hands were tied on Iraq–she could not afford to lose support for the Friday vote on the Congress’s Iraq resolution–she missed a great opportunity to show Americans what Democrats stand for (as opposed to against) in foreign policy.

Sen. Jim Webb did a far better job (granted it was well-scripted and rehearsed) in his State of the Union response last month.

Pelosi will no doubt improve and everyone has an off day (she did just shepherd an impressive 100-hours agenda and an Iraq War resolution through the House), but her expansive answers will have to be refined if she hopes to prove to the American public Democrats are the superior party in times of war.

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Iraq, Pelosi, Webb | Leave a Comment »