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Trying Hard


I am trying hard to get excited about the idea of Rep. Nancy Pelosi - my very own Congress person – being Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A woman third in line to the presidency! It’s my feminist dream-come-true.
Ya gotta admire Pelosi’s staying power. And her career path as a working mother. A life-long politician – Pelosi’s dad, Tommy D’Alesandro was the mayor of Balwmer, Merlin. Her brother, also Tommy and also a Bawlmer mayor – went to college with my Dad. So for me, there’s something nice about that slight Balwmer accent, hon, in Pelosi’s speech patterns. It’s not sound-bite as usual. And it should go without saying that, Pelosi’s worked hard enough and long enough in the trenches to get the job. And, yes, of course, her high profile role will make it a lot easier to folks to start thinking about the possibility of a woman in the White House.
But, still, every time I try to think about Democrats running the House of Representative, I sigh.
Part of the problem is I’m not sure they’re gonna get the job done and actually take the House. Yes, yes, I know. Polls show Republicans in tighter-than expected races and there are more of those races than anyone expected. The Republican party is at war with itself. Conservatives and evangelicals are staying home. The war in Iraq has taken a toll on the nation’s patience not to mention changed hearts and minds in those areas – Ohio, Kentucky, parts of Pennsylvania, much of the south – where the economic draft has cost men and women lives and limb. Factories in the upper MidWest – many of them places like Ohio where the Republicans did well two years ago – are shutting down. For many of these voters, it is time for a change. That’s good for the Democrats but, sad to say, it’s not true nationally.
House races arem more han anything, local races. For all the wailing and moaning out there about Congressional corruption, the war and President Bush’s honesty or proud lack thereof, it’s local issues – economics foremost – that determine how folks behave in the ballot box. Often local politics – stuff we don’t hear about ’cause it doesn’t carry national interest – determines who wins or loses. On top of that, Congressional districts are drawn to keep the folks who hold those seats in those seat. So while the Democrats might do well, there’s no guaranteed they’ll get to claim victory.
Besides, there’s plenty of evidence that voters can parse out the Democratic Party rhetoric. That’s why Arnold Schwarzenegger is romping to victory instead of being dragged down – as his unimaginative Democratic challenger Phil Angelides would like – by his close association two years ago with the Republican Party and President Bush. It’s also, by the way, why Sen. Joe Lieberman is going to get re-elected. And it’s why the Democrats may well take the Senate, where there are lots of new candidates, some with new ideas.
Even if I’m wrong, I’m still not sure that’s a good thing to see Pelosi running the House. Yeah, I know, she keep the troops in line. And yeah, it’s high time someone did. But, I’m one of those old codgers who remembers the waning days of Democratic control of the House and Senate way back in 1994. And well, I gotta tell you, it wasn’t anything to get excited about. What’s worse, some of the same geezers who ran the show all those years ago have been hanging around Capitol Hill for 10 years waiting to get back in power. That’s not what you’d call a healthy situation. Can you imagine hanging around in a job for 10 years waiting to get promoted?

If the Democrats take the House, some of the folks who didn’t have any new ideas 10 years ago are going to be back in charge of things. They say they’re putting ethics and lobbying reform at the top of the agenda? Now there’s an issue that will convince Americans Washington cares about them. It’s not going to be real reform; it’s just another excuse for Congress to talk about itself in a vain effort to convince us they’re honest. We need an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system that separates work and health insurance. Think Democrats can get that done? Not without carrying serious water for the unions – and unions run hospitals – they won’t. How about a rewrite of the telecommunications and copyright acts to account for the Internet thing and the use of digital technologies – at home and work. Think the Democrats can get that done? Not without making Hollywood happy – Hollywood is an enormous source of Democratic campaign contributions. And do we really think the Democratic party can have an honest discussion about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that doesn’t skirt the hyper-sensitivity of its Jewish supporters? I sincerely doubt it – the war between the parties for those voters is one that’s just starting to heat up. Oh, yeah, and the tax code’s a mess, too, but we know how Democrats are on taxes, don’t we? Sigh.
Which brings us to the real issue here. The Democratic Party as currently by Nancy Pelosi doesn’t appear to have too many new, good ideas. Remember, it was Pelosi and her Senate cohorts, Diane Fienstein and Barbara Boxer were among those who told San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom that he should not issue same-sex marriage licenses because it would hurt the Democratic Party. It didn’t, did it? But the idea that Newsom shouldn’t take the political risk he did is a good illustration of how scared Democrat are – of their own supporters. When it comes to standing up or going along, the Democratic Party has decided to go along; to placate, not lead voters and as party leader, Pelosi gets tagged with that responsibility. And that’s not really what we need now in national politics.
So it’s with a heavy heart I think of Speaker Pelosi. I’m not so sure she’s got that much new to say.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:19 PM | Permalink

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