As we know, the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 went down the other day on a close vote. Much has been and will be written on the matter. It was clearly a matter which caused great concern and wringing of hands by all US Representatives.
What struck me, though, is the way the Democratic Leadership comported themselves. Speaker Pelosi, knowing it would be a close vote, knowing she was unable to deliver her caucus, knowing she needed GOP votes, decided to savage the GOP. As Michael Gerson recounted:
During the bailout debate, Pelosi used her last breath to channel the shade of Henry Wallace, attacking conservative economics as a “right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation.” When one thinks of the skills of the speaker of the House, rubbing your face in it before a vital vote is not usually high on the list. House conservatives were insulted — then watched as some of Pelosi’s committee chairmen and closest political associates voted against the bill. Seeing Democrats saving their political hides provided little encouragement for Republicans to risk their own.
Of course, after Pelosi poisoned the well and almost 100 Dems bolted, Barnie Frank pulls on his blowhard hat and chastises those who used “hurt feelings” as a reason to not do what is best for the country.
This is where the posturing kicks in…if Barnie Frank is whacking on the GOP reps for not voting for the bill based on “hurt feelings”, where is his chastisement for the huge number of Democratic defectors?
But the real trophy for petulance goes to Madame Speaker. Knowing it would be a close vote, knowing she needed GOP votes, she chose to attack instead of lead.
Can you imagine Sam Rayburn attacking the GOP prior the draft vote in 1941, or the Rules Committee expansion in 1961? Can you imagine any speaker at any time attacking the other side prior to the vote on any issue?
Was the House right to vote down the bill? Don’t know.
Was Speaker Pelosi, as the Speaker of a House of Representatives facing a critical issue, right to give in to her partisan jones and attack instead of leading?
Nope…somehow petulance and patriotism never seem to go together. But Pelosi, who seems more interested in partisan advantage than national progress, decided to indulge herself.
Perhaps after Barnie Frank gets through chastising GOP members for their “hurt feelings”, he can take issue with Speaker Pelosi for her “unrestrained ego”, and then maybe even suggest that his democratic colleagues-more of whom voted against the bill than did GOP members-might take time to re-read Profiles in Courage.
The Dem members might just learn something-Speaker Pelosi, I am afraid, is a lost cause.
UPDATE: The Mason Conservative nails the matter.