Well, none of us need worry that Nancy Pelosi might suffer from the same affliction. Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, is a profile in political cowardice.
Back in the bad ol' days of Republican control, not only of the executive branch of government, but of both houses of congress, Pelosi was full of tough talk and bravura even as she continally rolled over to each new Republican legislative outrage.
Back in May 2006, in the run up to the mid-term elections, when public animosity for the Bush administration was beginning to roil into full blown contempt, Pelosi, speaking of why voters should elect Democrats, said: “We will have subpoena power, and that’s why the Republicans are so afraid ... Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It’s about checks and balances.”
Or, how about this quote, from January, 2006, speaking of Junior's illegal NSA surveillance program? "I would not want any president — Democrat or Republican — to have the expanded power the administration is claiming in this case."
Sounds pretty tough, eh? And it was undoubtedly that kind of rhetoric that propelled Democrats to stunning and historical victories in the November 2006 elections, where they picked up 7 Senate seats and 31 House seats.
Well, almost immediately, Nancy proved that her tough talk was a lot of bluster. Two days after the Republicans were crushed and humiliated, Pelosi was already backing down from a confrontation with the administration for which voters had just cast their ballots:
"Impeachment is off the table....it's a pledge....it is a waste of time," Pelosi told 60 Minutes.
Since that time, Pelosi has reined in the most aggressive of her committee chairmen, including John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Far from discouraging petty investigations in order to promote those that hold the most promise of discovery, Pelosi seems determined to squash any inquiries that might actually lead to criminal investigation, repudiation, or impeachment.
During the term of her leadership, Pelosi has knuckled under to the Bush administration's war-funding proposals, whining that she didn't have the votes to stop them. But such excuses seem rather hollow when one considers that the majority she enjoys is nearly as large as that held by the Republicans before the mid-term elections. You remember? Back when they ran roughshod over Pelosi's pathetic minority?
Pelosi has tried to obscure her cowardice by throwing sops out to the ravenous Democratic base. The latest of these is her highly-publicized negotiations with Bush flunky and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson over an economic stimulus package. There is speculation that legislation could pass wherein we would all be cut checks for $800 (individual) to $1600 (married).
Pretty nice, eh? I know I can use the money.
But what Pelosi is hoping we won't notice is that, in order not to jeopardize the negotiations, she is postponing a showdown on contempt of congress charges against key administration officials who are avoiding testimony about the US Attorneys scandal.
From the Washington Post:
There were signs that both sides were trying to avoid at least some provocations until an economic package is passed. House Democrats decided to hold off any action on contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers over the investigation of the firings of U.S. attorneys.Viewed in context, the tax rebates of the stimulus package seem more like a pathetic and plaintive bribe to the American public: "Please don't make me do my job."
It is puzzling to me that she and her cronies, Steny Hoyer and the repulsive Rahm Emmanuel, seem petrified at the thought of confronting a deeply unpopular president. Could it be that they somehow fear a public backlash? Are they content to run out the clock on Bush's term, hoping that public disaffection will lead to even bigger majorities after the next election? Or, are they in some way complicit in the Bush administration's many crimes?
Regardless, Nancy Pelosi and her gang cannot be accused of displaying courage or competence.
It sure makes me proud to be a Democrat....