Monday, February 3, 2014

Poor Pelosi Surely Steamed at Stewart

I wouldn’t be surprised if Nancy Pelosi refused to appear on Comedy Central’s Emmy Award-winning “The Daily Show” again anytime soon.

Ms. Pelosi, the top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives,, let’s just say “out of touch” during her interview with Jon Stewart last Thursday night. It was so bad, in fact, that I wanted to fly to the Big Apple, barge into the studio on 11th Avenue, sneak onto the set, take her hand and gently guide her offstage before she could look any worse. Lucky I remembered the show was taped and I was watching it two days later.

I vacillated between thinking Stewart was being a disrespectful dick – he seemed downright obstinate and at one point he actually laughed in her face – and thinking the 73-year-old Pelosi, who’s currently the highest-ranking female politician in American history, needs to hang it up and head back to the City by the Bay where she can play with the grandkids and rest on her considerable laurels.

She appeared scattered and confused during much of the interview (see below); although it was obvious that she had a great deal of knowledge and wisdom stored in her cranium, she wasn’t successful at sharing it with the Comedy Central audience. I was on her side when she took exception to Stewart insisting that Democrats have been just as corrupted by money in politics as Republicans. I thought she was right to point out that the important thing is not to pass legislation just to pass it; rather, it should be crafted in such a way as to actually be implementable. And I agreed with her that progressives seem to care more about clean air and water and public health, housing and transportation than conservatives.

But I thought her decision to actually say, “That’s not my responsibility” when Stewart asked why the Democrats’ rollout of Obamacare was executed so poorly was ill-advised. When Stewart claimed that her own former employees were among those who left to work for lobbying firms and government contractors – the “revolving door” process that makes Congressional watchdogs uncomfortable – she repeatedly insisted that she didn’t know and appeared truly flustered. (According to Open Secrets, almost 30 current and former Pelosi staff members have gone through the “revolving door.”) And her insistence that conservative politicians were responsible for Congress’s lack of productivity, while true, came across as juvenile.

I’m not familiar enough with the former Speaker of the House to know if this feeble performance was the norm or the exception but given her achievements, I expected more from her. (I imagine she didn’t expect the more-liberal-than-conservative Stewart to prove as challenging as he did. He may have been responding to criticism that he’s not sufficiently hard-hitting when interviewing politicians.) What pleased me most was Ms. Pelosi’s quick acknowledgement that both legislative and executive branch Democrats suck at messaging. That’s been one of their biggest flaws for years in my opinion.

The House minority leader’s voting record is a mixed bag. I like how she supports increased background checks for potential gun owners and an assault weapons ban. She supports raising the minimum wage, medical marijuana and Obamacare. (She was an early and instrumental supporter of health care reform.) Back in 2002, she opposed the Iraq War resolution authorizing George W. Bush to use military force against that country. (She was no fan of Dubya.) And she voted against allowing oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Curie, Corrie and Thomas
But I'm not happy that she voted to keep restricting the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba. She supported the Patriot Act back in 2001. She said last year that she thinks whistle-blower Edward Snowden is a criminal. And she’s way too pro-Israel for my taste. (Not to engage in class warfare but given that she’s worth an estimated $58 million, I’m not sure how well she can relate to income inequality and the plight of poor people either.)

I was sad that her appearance was so wince-worthy because as stepdad to three girls, I’m always looking for female role models to introduce to Nikita, Maya and Devina. If she’s not careful, Ms. Pelosi will fall below Marie Curie, Rachel Corrie and Helen Thomas on my “Women I Dig” list. Who wants that?

Sources: Center for Responsive Politics,,, Washington Times, Comedy Central.

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