THE DEMOCRATS’ BETRAYAL—TWO UNUSUAL TAKES

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By character and class consciousness Pelosi is simply reacting to events as the wealthy bourgeoise she is. If revolution and true defiance to the status quo will come they won’t come from creatures ensconced in privilege.

TAKE ONE: A VIEW FROM THE LEFT
House Speaker Pelosi lashes out at antiwar protesters

By Patrick Martin \ Dateline: 15 October 2007
Crosspost with the World Socialist Web Site www.wsws.org, which originated the article.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in Washington, normally maintains a public display of sympathy towards the mass opposition to the war in Iraq—an opposition which propelled the Democrats into control of the House and Senate in the congressional elections last November.

But in the course of a press interview October 9, reported the following morning in the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post, Pelosi gave vent to the resentment and hostility that leading Democrats actually feel towards the antiwar protest movement.

The Monitor’s news account of the interview was relatively restrained, focusing on Pelosi’s complaint that antiwar protesters should target the Republican congressional delegation, not the Democratic, because it was the Republicans who through filibusters in the Senate were sustaining Bush’s war policy.

Asked about criticism of the failure (or more accurately, refusal) of the congressional Democratic majority to take action to put an end to the war in Iraq, despite the overwhelming antiwar opinion among Democratic voters, Pelosi said, “I am well aware of the unhappiness of the base.”

She told reporters that antiwar demonstrators had established seemingly permanent protest encampments outside her home in San Francisco several months, and more recently outside her Washington home as well.

The real venom in Pelosi’s comments was reported by Washington Post Capitol Hill columnist Dana Milbank, one of those in attendance at the press interview. While Pelosi invariably maintains a publicly smiling posture, he wrote, “her spirits soured instantly when somebody asked about the anger of the Democratic ‘base’ over her failure to end the war in Iraq.”

“Look,” she said, “I had, for five months, people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San Francisco, angering neighbors, hanging their clothes from trees, building all kinds of things—Buddhas? I don’t know what they were—couches, sofas, chairs, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk.”

Pelosi continued: “If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have ‘Impeach Bush’ across their chest, it’s the First Amendment.”

Pelosi is married to a multimillionaire investor, and her comments were charged with social resentment as well as political hostility. The antiwar protesters are not only unwelcome because they expose her hypocritical pretense to opposing the Iraq bloodbath—they are dirty, ragged and disreputable, and irritate the neighbors.

Pelosi’s remark—imagine that riffraff “sleeping on my sidewalk”—is reveals the enormous social distance between the masses of working people, housewives, students who oppose the war, and the privileged ruling elite. And her disparaging reference to the First Amendment demonstrates the hostility of a big business politician towards the democratic rights of the working class.

In elaborating on this comment, Pelosi tried to backtrack from her spontaneous display of her real attitude towards antiwar activists. “They are advocates,” she said. “We are leaders.”

And “leaders,” of course, have to be practical. “We have to make responsible decisions in the Congress that are not driven by the dissatisfaction of anybody who wants the war to end tomorrow,” Pelosi continued. “The war has eclipsed everything,” said. “And while I am very proud of the ratings that Democrats have on every issue you can name, I don’t disagree with the public evaluation that we have not done well in ending this war.”

The Democratic leader rebuked those antiwar activists who have begun to recognize that congressional Democrats, not merely the Republicans, are opposed to ending the war.

“I think it is a waste of time for them to go after Democratic members,” Pelosi argued. “They ought to just persuade Republican members who are representing areas that are opposed to the war.”

Pelosi herself faces such a challenge. Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan has announced that she would run as an independent candidate for Congress against Pelosi next year, because of the decision by Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last May to push through an emergency funding bill to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Democrats could not be fairly accused of failing to carry out their electoral mandate, Pelosi claimed: “We said we would change the debate; we would fight to end the war. We never said we had the veto pen or the signature pen.”

She concluded with the claim, incessantly repeated by the congressional Democratic leadership, that it is White House veto power and filibusters by Senate Republicans which have blocked any change in Iraq war policy.

“It is clear now that the Senate is not going to be able to do much to overcome the 60- vote barrier that would send a bill to the president’s desk,” Pelosi said. “But that does not mean the House will not move to … responsible, safe redeployment of our troops, hopefully to end by next year.”

This is the “big lie” that the Democratic leadership—with the full support of the media—has sought to use to excuse its own complicity with the war and cover up the fundamental agreement of both parties to continue the military occupation of Iraq indefinitely.

Pelosi, Reid & Co. have deliberately refused to take the action that they have within their power, cutting off funds for the war, which does not requires a filibuster-proof or veto-proof majority.

A simple majority in either house of Congress could have blocked war funding last May. But with the Bush administration threatening that critical military operations would have to be curtailed by mid-June if the funding was not approved, Pelosi and Reid caved in and agreed to push through the emergency appropriations bill.

Patrick Martin is a senior staff writer with World Socialist Web Site (wsws) where this essay originally appeared.

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TAKE TWO: A VIEW FROM THE RIGHT
March 20, 2007
Pelosi’s Capitulation
by Patrick J. Buchanan

If George W. Bush launches a preemptive war on Iran, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bear full moral responsibility for that war.

For it was Pelosi who quietly agreed to strip out of the $100 billion funding bill for Iraq a provision that would have required President Bush to seek congressional approval before launching any new war on Iran.

Pelosi’s capitulation came in the Appropriations Committee.

What went down, and why?

“Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy,” wrote The Associated Press’ David Espo and Matthew Lee.

“Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said in an interview there is a widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which … has expressed unremitting hostility to the Jewish state.

“‘It would take away perhaps the most important tool the U.S. has when it comes to Iran,’ she said of the now-abandoned provision.

“‘I don’t think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you’re trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize in a civilized way,’ said Gary Ackerman of New York.”

According to John Nichols of The Nation, Pelosi’s decision to strip the provision barring Bush from attacking Iran without Congress’ approval “sends the worst possible signal to the White House.”

“The speaker has erred dangerously and dramatically,” writes Nichols. Her “disastrous misstep could haunt her and the Congress for years to come.”

Nichols does not exaggerate.

If Bush now launches war on Iran, he can credibly say Congress and the Democrats gave him a green light. For Pelosi, by removing a provision saying Bush does not have the authority, de facto concedes he does have the authority.

Bush and Cheney need now not worry about Congress.

They have been flashed the go sign for war on Iran.

Pelosi & Co. thus aborted a bipartisan effort to ensure that if we do go to war again, we do it the constitutional way, and we do it together.

Nothing in the provision would have prevented Bush, as commander in chief, from responding to an Iranian attack or engaging in hot pursuit of an enemy found in Iraq. Nor would the provision have prevented Bush from threatening Iran. It would simply have required him to come to Congress – before launching all-out war.

Now Pelosi has, in effect, ceded Bush carte blanche to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities. It’s all up to him and Cheney.

For this the nation elected a Democratic Congress?

Why did Pelosi capitulate? Answer: She was “under pressure from some conservative members of her caucus, and from lobbyists associated with neoconservative groups that want war with Iran and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC),” writes Nichols.

The Washington Times agrees as to who bully-ragged Nancy into scuttling any requirement that Bush come to the Hill before unleashing the B-2s on Arak, Natanz, and Bushehr:

“Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received a smattering of boos when she badmouthed the war effort during a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Democratic leadership, responding to concerns from pro-Israel lawmakers, was forced to strip from a military appropriations measure a provision meant to weaken President Bush’s ability to respond to threats from Iran.”

This episode, wherein liberal Democrats scuttled a bipartisan effort to require Bush to abide by the Constitution before taking us into a third war in the Middle East, speaks volumes about who has the whip hand on Capitol Hill, when it comes to the Middle East.

Pelosi gets booed by the Israeli lobby, then runs back to the Hill and gives Bush a blank check for war on Iran, because that is what the lobby demands. A real candidate for Profiles in Courage.

As for the presidential candidates, it is hard to find a single one willing to stand up and say: If Bush plans to take us into another war in the Mideast, he must first come to Congress for authorization. And if he goes to war without authorization, that will be impeachable.

All retreat into the “all-options-are-on-the-table” mantra, which is another way of saying, “It’s Bush’s call.”

The corruption of both parties is astonishing. Republicans used to be the party of the Constitution: “No more undeclared wars! No more presidential wars!”

Democrats used to be the party of the people. The people don’t want this war. They don’t want another. The Jewish community voted 88 percent for Democrats in November, and 77 percent oppose the war in Iraq.

So says Gallup. Yet, just because the Israeli lobby jerked her chain, the leader of the Peoples’ House has decided she and her party will leave the next war up to Bush.

Sam Rayburn must be turning over in his grave.

Pat Buchanan is an unreconstructed libertarian paleoconservative, but as such he finds himself in opposition to this current phase of the Empire’s wars. This paper was originally published at Antiwar.com, a libertarian site.

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