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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Those Who Do Not Understand The Past...

Are giving the rest of us a sense that somewhere, a time vault has opened and people are walking out of it, available for interviews.

Commenting on the seemingly-inevitable ascension of Nancy Pelosi from the # 2 spot to the # 1 spot in Democratic House Leadership, we see this:

"Democrats are making a bold choice to change their image by choosing a woman as their public face in a chamber of Congress.

``It brings me joy and tears to see that we are going here. I have wanted to be president since I was a little girl,'' said Helen Grieco of Napa, executive director of the California chapter of the National Organization for Women. ``I think there are a lot of women and girls like me, and this move makes those dreams more of a reality than ever before.''

Oh, for heaven's sake. If she is the most qualified, and she may well be, then good for her. But this interest group pleading takes us back to Walter Mondale and the Democrat convention in 1984. The one in San Francisco, which many of us found annoying even then.

"Some observers believe that the decision to name a woman as the party's top congressional leader could pay huge political dividends.

``We have a very diverse society and we have a society in which women are playing a larger role, and the party that gets that message first I think is going to be in good position for the future,'' said Leon Panetta, a former Monterey congressman who served as chief of staff in the Clinton administration."

Wow, insight is flowing like champagne at Democrat Headquarters! Ooops, scratch "champagne", substitute "tears". Diversity, and the emergence of women! Tear out the front page. And how was this secret kept from Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Susan Collins, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Sandra Day O'Connor, Janet Reno, Harold Ford, Jesse Jackson, and at least one or two others?

Now, from the Times:

"Tony Coelho, a former California congressman who served in the Democratic House leadership under former Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill in the early 1980's, described the elevation of Ms. Pelosi as a good thing, ...

Mr. Coelho rejected the idea that Ms. Pelosi would be a burden on her party because of her ideologies. He noted that Mr. O'Neill was similarly disparaged as a Massachusetts liberal, and proceeded to lead his House into winning back 26 seats in 1982."

He failed to note that the House passed Reagan's first tax cut in 1981, and that 1982 was a mid term election during a weak economic period.

Now, I have seen only one story comment on Nancy Pelosi's circumstances in Congress, and of course I can't find it. Apparently she won a special election in 1987, and has not been in a competitive election since. With gerrymandering, it is a safe bet that most of the Congressfolks voting for her as Leader have not been in a competitive race either. OK, the same is true on the Republican side, but we are running a partisan rag-sheet here, not making some attempt at faux-balanced reporting.

Anyway, unlike Governors, Senators, and Presidents, the notion of "electons" is somehat abstract for these people - "coronations" suits better. Hence, elevating an old-school liberal to the top leadership post makes sense - it's great for fund-raising, and it excites the base that sends these people back bi-annually. It seems that, for many of these Congresspeople, their closest contact with alternative views comes on Election Night, when they watch CNN and wonder why it is all going so badly. As they will in 2004.

So, welcome, Nancy. Amongst Republicans, your ascension does not cause apprehension.

UPDATE: I knew Ms. Pelosi's appeal went beyond women.

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