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Nancy Pelosi, political genius

Before last month's elections, I'd never really given Nancy Pelosi much thought. But since then, I've found myself learning a great deal about her. And I'm coming to a conclusion -- that this woman is a political genius the likes of which comes about maybe once a generation.

People often talk about George W. Bush and Karl Rove as an amazing team -- Bush the bumbling, incompetent, incoherent idiot and Karl Rove as the evil, diabolical mastermind behind it all. Pelosi somehow manages to combine both traits in one -- she is seen as a far-left, gaffe-prone loony embodying "San Francisco values" while, at the same time, engaging in some of the most brilliant political maneuverings I've seen in a long time.

Let's just look at what she's done since the elections -- and leading up to them.

One of the main points of her push was to end the "culture of corruption" in Congress. The Democrats successfully hung the majority of the weight of scandals around the Republicans' necks, and the voters turned on the Republicans last November. That became one of their big selling points.

But, of course, corruption is not the sole property of either party. It is notoriously bipartisan, and the Democrats should clean up their own house (and Senate) too.

This is where Pelosi's genius shines through. She's getting rid of (or, at least, heftily diminishing the power of) some of the most corrupt and venial Democrats in the House. At the same time, she's also cutting down some of those who might contest her leadership. And she's doing it all very publicly, in a way that in no way can be seen as a betrayal:

She's using her political enemies to eliminate her rivals.

Think about it for a moment.

John Murtha makes no bones about his desire for leadership. At the same time, he has some extremely hefty baggage. He just barely evaded indictment in the ABSCAM scandal. His pronouncements on the war (such as redeploying from Iraq to a quarter of the globe away in Okinawa, where the Japanese already don't care for our presence). And so on.

Pelosi backs him for Majority Leader, raising his profile. Then she just has to stand back while the partisans and pundits do her dirty work for her, shredding his ambitions.

The Congressional Black Caucus has a lot of clout in Democratic circles. They were notoriously upset with the investigation into Congressman William Jefferson Clinton and his apparent corruption (I'm sure most people keep $90,000 in their freezer, and ANYONE who could have would have commandeered a National Guard unit to rescue their money from Katrina's depradations), so they wanted a little "payback" from Pelosi for another of their members. They pushed -- hard -- for Alcee Hastings to be given the chairmanship of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

But Pelosi knew that the CBC needed to be kept in check, so she stole a page out of Bush's playbook and gave them precisely what they wanted. She let it be known that she was backing Hastings for the job, and that unleashed the partisans and pundits yet again.

Because among all his other qualifications and distinctions, Hastings was a federal judge until he became only the 6th such judge in history to be impeached and removed from office by Congress (and many of today's movers and shakers voted to convict him of corruption back in 1989). He promptly ran for Congress (the Senate thought he was going to be convicted of criminal charges, so didn't bother to impose the "ban from future public office" penalty along with the "removal from office" penalty, the only two possible penalties for conviction after impeachment) and barely dodged the criminal conviction.

A lot of people -- a LOT -- thought he idea of someone who had been found guilty of serious enough corruption to be removed from a lifetime appointment to the federal bench being in charge of some of the most sensitive intelligence and resources our government has appalling. They made their voices heard -- loudly -- and Hastings was passed over. And the perceived clout of the Congressional Black Caucus took a hefty hit.

There goes another possible threat to Pelosi's power.

And now another corruption-clouded Democrat is reaching for power.

Representative Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is currently under FBI investigation for some rather astonishing coincidences. It seems that a lot of individuals and companies who benefited tremendously from budget earmarks Mollohan arranged for are, oddly enough, the same individuals and companies who have been a tremendous boon to Mollohan, both personally and through his campaigns. "Tremendously" meaning in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

And Mollohan is in line to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies -- which sets the budget for the Department of Justice and its subsidiary, the FBI.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that Mollohan will, after a suitable furor has developed, be passed over for the chairmanship. Pelosi will hold off long enough for the public pressure to build, long enough to be seen as "loyal" to Mollohan, before the hullabaloo grows too great -- and then Mollohan will fall.

And thus another potential rival of Pelosi's will be disgraced.

As Pelosi slowly cleans up the Democrats in Congress, she's starting to look more and more like Tom Sawyer and the fence as she manipulates others into doing her work for her -- and her hands remain clean.

I find myself hoping that, when she's done, she moves on to the Senate and does the same thing there.

Go, Nancy!


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Comments (26)

Mmmm, I think her magic isn... (Below threshold)

Mmmm, I think her magic isn't going to move on to the Senate.

I don't think she's been doing it on purpose. There's a reason that corruption/ethics problems and long tenure in the House go hand-in-hand -- it's called "safe seats" and elections every 2 years. There's a different dynamic going on in the Senate. I think you're going ot find corruption much more often amongst House members of long tenure, no matter the party.

Since seniority is the way of the unions, the Dems go the same way for leadership positions...and thus this problem.

Jay Tea: That is a brillian... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea: That is a brilliant interpretation! Rather than the US Senate, why don't we sic her on Kim Jong Il, Ahmidinejad, and Hugo Chavez? Oh, and the French.

I like your analysis, but m... (Below threshold)

I like your analysis, but merely refraining from elevating corrupt people into committee chairs is not "clean[ing] up the Democracts in Congress."

Ditto, sissoed. Murtha, Ha... (Below threshold)

Ditto, sissoed. Murtha, Hastings, Jefferson, et al. are still there. They've just been denied the limelight.

It's like keeping a dishonest employee on the job, but away from the money, ignoring that they still have access to inventory.

Now, if you're saying that "impressions" is what Nancy is good at, then yes, She's successfully given the "impression" that she's cleaning up the corruption.

I've had the same cynical t... (Below threshold)

I've had the same cynical thoughts about her machinations as JT, but the conclusion is more like oyster's - just more smoke and mirrors. Having seen The Prestige this weekend, perhaps I am more depressed by such a plot line, though the ending ib real life will be more like Apocolypto.

My take on the absurd Washi... (Below threshold)
Florence Schmieg:

My take on the absurd Washington Post analysis of the Bush presidency by four so-called "historians".

Just as scientists do not use faulty data and uncontrolled experiments and still deserve the mantle of "scientist", so do serious historical scholars not attempt to make judgments until sufficient time (say 50 years or more) has passed for evaluation. Therefore, by agreeing to contribute to this farce in the Post this Sunday, the so-called "historians" have lost their credibility to call themselves thus. They have become just another group of political pundits running around in sheep's (historian) clothing. Douglas Brinkley is particularly egregious. This John Kerry hagiographer and frequent guest on Hardball and Scarborough has lost all academic credibility. It is an abomination to true historians to call him one.

Oyster:Since you s... (Below threshold)


Since you sometimes a prig about accuracy, I wonder what exactly has been proven about the dishonesty of Jefferson and Murtha such as to have them removed from Congress? Or are allegations enough for you re Jefferson, and 25 yo allegations re Murtha which went without action by the FBI and the US Attorney?


"Or are allegations enough ... (Below threshold)
Assosicated Press:

"Or are allegations enough for you re Jefferson, and 25 yo allegations re Murtha.."

It's up to the accused to prove them wrong. That's an accepted fact.

Hugh:1) There is a... (Below threshold)


1) There is a hell of a lot more evidence of wrongdoing on Jefferson's part than there EVER was on Karl Rove vis-a-vis the Valerie Plame mess, but that didn't stop the cries for his resignation and arrest. For example, the $90,000 in his freezer and the Louisiana National Guard incident during Katrina. Not to mention his nearly provoking a Constitutional crisis (thanks, in large part, to that idiot Hastert taking his side) over an FBI search of his offices.

2) Go ahead and watch the ABSCAM videotape of Murtha and tell us that there's a statute of limitations on being a scumbag.

3) I thought the Democrats were all about ending the "culture of corruption." Did I overlook the unspoken (Republicans only) part?


I wonder why the MSM didn't... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

I wonder why the MSM didn't highlight all these angles to the story before the election? These stories are noteworthy, sexy, scandalous...all the things you would expect journalists to get all excited about. In fact, I still don't see wall-to-wall headlines about all these cases; at least not anything near as much as we heard about Foley. (Foley who? Oh, yeah. Don't hear much about him anymore.)

Other than the 'right wing' internets or a little on Fox or Rush, I didn't see too much in-depth reporting on these scandals.

Jay:When I speak, ... (Below threshold)


When I speak, I speak for myself, not for a party or an ideology. I'm also trained as an attorney and so I've never ever written anything about accusations other than when or if they are proven true consequences should follow. So don't use the Karl Rove card on me. I never called for his or anyone else's resignation or arrest. I supported the investigation and whatever came of it.

Jefferson didn't provoke a constituional crisis, Hastert did. Get your facts right.

When someone, of any party, is convicted of or admits to corruption then I say goodbye, good riddance and go to jail if necessary. if that's the case with jefferson that's what should happen. Murtha was neither accused or or convicted of anything having to do with ABSCAM. I happen to be intimately familiar with ABSCAM as I as an associate in the law office of 3 lawyers from Philadelphia who were convicted or pled guilty.

The last time I checked, "scumbag' was not a criminal offense. Were that true the federal prisons would be full of "scumbag" democrats and republicans. Speaking of "scumbags", certainly those in the White House who did out her to damage her husband are "scumbags." Wouldn't you agree? Probably not.

The democrats are not in charge yet. Why don't you try waiting to see what happens. Or are you such an indealogue you just can't help yourself?


Cool - I'm a prig!... (Below threshold)

Cool - I'm a prig!

Hugh, at this point I would only refer back to a statement I made some time ago. And a "prig" on accuracy would point out, as you have, that they weren't "convicted" or have yet to be "convicted". This can, and often is, a valid point of contention. But my statement went as such:

I'm tired of politicians of any stripe that claim the high ground yet eagerly operate on the fringes of the laws THEY WRITE.

It gives them not only an advantage politically, but financially over the unwashed masses they claim to be protecting from unscrupulous mongers with legislation and regulation. They all too often write laws and then exploit the loopholes.

"Jefferson didn't provoke a... (Below threshold)

"Jefferson didn't provoke a constituional(Its spelled Constitutional) crisis, Hastert did. Get your facts right." -Hugh

Then Hugh, by that reasoning, Mark Foley should still be in office. He didn't do anything Illegal...

Darby, Foley RESIGNED.... (Below threshold)
La Mano:

Darby, Foley RESIGNED.

"I'm also trained as an ... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

"I'm also trained as an attorney"

Parrot is more like it.

"When someone, of any party, is convicted of or admits to corruption then I say goodbye, good riddance and go to jail if necessary."


Last time I checked Foley r... (Below threshold)

Last time I checked Foley resigned on his own and quickly.

Rob, another intelligent and cogent response. You can always be counted on for that.

La Mano, I know this. The p... (Below threshold)

La Mano, I know this. The point is that if he hadn't resigned, there would have been a big deal about it. Investigations and so on and so forth. He did the right thing by resigning. Besides, he would have been kicked out of office anyways.

My point was that by Hugh's reasoning, Mark Foley shouldn't have resigned he should have fought it. Scumbags, are scumbags and as long as they haven't done anything illegal, then it's okay for them to stay in office as scumbags.

Darby:Your reasoni... (Below threshold)


Your reasoning about my reasoning is without reason, so to speak. I was talking about 3 people who had potential criminal problems. That's all. I respond the way I do when folks on either side argue that someone under investigation but not charged with something should be run out of office. One of the things that makes this country great is the concept of innocence until proven otherwise.

Foley made a personal decision. I'm confident he felt it was the right thing to do. but none of us is privy to the exact reasons for his decision.

Yes, there are scumbags, loads and loads of them. On both sides of the aisle. I like to think the voters in their district(s) are the ones to exercise the "get rid of the scumbag(s) vote. Not you or me or anyone else.

"It is notoriously bipartis... (Below threshold)

"It is notoriously bipartisan, and the Democrats should clean up their own house (and Senate) too."

Someone hasn't been paying attention for the last decade. Apples. Oranges.

No doubt, Nancy is the best... (Below threshold)

No doubt, Nancy is the best hope for the Republican Party. Go Nancy!

Hey hugie (the lawyer type)... (Below threshold)

Hey hugie (the lawyer type) what was Tom Delay convicted of? Hmmm--can we say double standard?

"Speaking of "scumbags", ce... (Below threshold)

"Speaking of "scumbags", certainly those in the White House who did out her to damage her husband are "scumbags." Wouldn't you agree? Probably not."

Hugh, no one in the White House outed Plame.
That so-called leak came from the State Department,
namely Dickster Armitage. He's no friend of anyone
in the White House either. And as to being outed,
she outed herself with her cars license plate.

ummmm....where did Scooter ... (Below threshold)
Hugh Grady:

ummmm....where did Scooter Libby work?

I'd like to answer you, Hug... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Cal..:

I'd like to answer you, Hugh, but I can't get my finger out of my mouth! No, wait! It's in my asshole. No, it's back in my mouth! I'm such a flaming queen I have to dance! Wheee!

Never attribute to conspiri... (Below threshold)

Never attribute to conspiricy that which can be easily explained by simple stupidity.
Pelosi has now done 3 "Meirs" in a row, the difference being that she can hear the hoots from the peanut gallery better than Bush, and drop them quickly.

BTW: Does anyone else think she's only 2 rouge dabs away from the female robot in 'A Boy and His Dog"?

I did like your blog and I ... (Below threshold)
David Norris:

I did like your blog and I generally agree with it. However, the smarts of Nancy Pelosi is all about how to tactically maintain power and how to use that power. It does not necessarily have anything to do with how that power is to be used.

Longterm, the success or failure of Ms. Pelosi is all about what the power she has so masterfully gain is actually used for the betterment of this country. So far, this power really hasn't done anything yet nor has it been indicated what she intends to do with it.






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