The Democrats' war against women of color who are pregnant and physically challenged continues
Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) had a small problem that she thought House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the first grandmother to serve in that position, could easily solve. Duckworth, age 46, a highly decorated Iraq War veteran who lost the use of both legs in combat until fitted with prosthetics, was eight and a half months pregnant and couldn't travel to Washington on Wednesday to cast her vote for the ranking member of the important Energy and Commerce Committee. The first female Iraq combat veteran elected to Congress, Duckworth wanted to vote by proxy instead.
Duckworth, who was born in Thailand to a Thai mother of Chinese descent and an American father who could trace his ancestry in America to before the Revolutionary War of 1776, was also the first female double-amputee of the Iraq War and the first member elected to Congress born in Thailand.
"No," replied Pelosi, "rules are rules."
On Monday, Pelosi argued that allowing Duckworth to vote by proxy could open the floodgates to other members requesting similar exceptions in the future.
“The fact is that we don't know what's going on in the lives of many people,” Pelosi told reporters on Monday. “You're going to establish a situation where we're going to determine who has a note from the doctor that's valid or not. It's really a place we shouldn't go.”(snip)
Then there's the broader issue of the Democrats' messaging strategy. Party leaders, particularly Pelosi, have spent years trying to highlight the distinctions between the Democrats and Republicans when it comes to issues of women's empowerment. With that in mind, some fear Pelosi's move to deny a proxy vote for a pregnant member undercuts the message that Democrats are the party of working women, a charge Pelosi rejects.
“It's not to be confused with not having family and medical leave,” Pelosi said Monday.
A number of rank-and-file members say the Democrats would be wise to heed Pelosi's warning of a slippery slope.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said that, during Tuesday's debate, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) had a funeral and “wanted that to be considered.”
“And then someone else came up with surgery, and it became easier, I thought, for them to keep the rule rather than select which person deserved a waiver, if any,” Rangel said. “The other circumstances appear to be exceptional to them. A funeral's a funeral.”
(By the way, “rules are rules” Pelosi strongly agreed with President Barack Obama's breaking the solid, historic rules – laws, really – of the Constitution by majestically offering amnesty to illegal aliens. "Does the public know the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?" Pelosi asked at a news conference Thursday morning.)
By the way again, in Mean Girls behavior, Pelosi supported Anna Eshoo (D-CA), her friend from a neighboring district, while Duckworth sided with Frank Pallone (D-NJ) in a tight race. Not that that makes a difference, of course, pooh-poohed the Democrats.
Conclusion: On Tuesday, the day before the vote, Duckworth gave birth to a baby girl a few weeks early.
On Wednesday, Pelosi's candidate Eshoo lost the vote; Duckworth's preferred candidate won, even without her vote.