Pelosi and Her Peeps

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stopped by the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco Tuesday afternoon to take some softball questions in front of her hometown fans. Hosting the exhibition of political batting practice was the Commonwealth Club of California, a supposedly non-partisan organization. Among the few hundred audience members in attendance, the one thing they certainly had in common was their wealth, along with their good liberal breeding.

Most of what Pelosi said was well-worn, upbeat talking points about the recent health care bill, Obama's great leadership, and the upcoming liberal legislative agenda. Most curious about her health care comments was how, she said, the new law supports the Declaration of Independence's claim that all people are endowed -- by their Creator, she failed to mention -- with certain      Pelosi speaking elsewhere  Photo credit

unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.                                                                 

It's a cynical yet effective political ploy to wrap such rhetoric around partisan policy. But the Demos in the audience ate it up like Halloween candy. Even so, Pelosi failed to explain exactly how the new law would guarantee life for the pre-born, liberty for those who are jailed for refusing to purchase government-mandated health insurance, or whether fiscally responsible citizens can truly pursue happiness once rising costs across the economy sap their savings like a giant jackass tax.

Instead, while discussing the process by which this recent bill became law, Pelosi admitted that Scott Brown's election as Massachusetts Senator was not seen by her Democrats as an obstacle. Rather, she claimed that her caucus saw Brown's victory as an opportunity -- a chance to pass ObamaCare by using the reconciliation process, as if that parliamentary sleight-of-hand were their preferred method. Oddly enough, even as these little lies slipped past her lipsticked grin, the Speaker actually seemed to believe her own prevarications.

Regarding that process, she said that people don't care about how ObamaCare became law -- only that it became law. She compared the bill to a refrigerator. People don't care, she said, how the refrigerator works, but only that when they open the door, the light turns on and they can get their dinner.

Is she serious? She sounds like a 19th-century Chicago meat-packing mogul suggesting that people don't care what gross ingredients get ground up into their sausage as long as they can get some wieners from their local corner market. If a big corporate executive -- one, say, from Westinghouse -- made a similar statement in front of a congressional hearing, especially after poor wiring in their products had caused a number of kitchen fires and perhaps even a number of deaths, he'd be skewered for his condescension.

But Pelosi was safe, surrounded as she was by like-minded partisans, all pretending to be above the partisan fray.

One thing Pelosi said drew a few chuckles from the crowd. She said, "The public is very wise. I have great respect for the American public." She should. As of last month, Madame Pelosi's favorability rating is 11%. This ought not surprise anyone, especially when, while discussing health care, the Speaker says things like "Whose side are you on -- the insurance companies' or the American people's?"

Such rhetorical false dilemmas echo George W. Bush's infamous claim that "Either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists." But Bush -- as reviled as he may be, even today, among self-serving liberals -- left office with a 22% approval rating, twice that of Madame Pelosi. Perhaps Pelosi, while singing the praises of her current presidential puppet, is secretly hoping to channel a bit of Bush 43.

Jay Rubin blogs at
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