Tag Archives: Nancy Pelosi

A Few Thoughts On The Recent Shutdown…

According to a number of reports, Donald Trump’s poll results declined significantly during the government shutdown. Since I cannot fathom why anyone still does support this ridiculous and pathetic man, I’ll leave it to others to mull the implications of those polls.

The shutdown and its aftermath were instructive, however, on a number of dimensions.

First and foremost, it delivered a striking rebuttal to the GOP’s constant refrain that government is never the solution, it’s the problem.  A post to Daily Kos  noted that the constant media references to 800,000 government employees understated the wider effect of the shutdown:  at least 40 million people were affected in one way or another. Many  endured long security lines at the airport, and uncertain safety in the air. Others couldn’t get tax questions answered (no one answered the IRS phones).

Businesses that depend upon patronage from government employees have seen steep declines: everything from food trucks at the National Mall to landlords accepting Section 8 vouchers, to cafes and delis accustomed to drawing their lunch crowds from nearby government buildings have seen fewer customers.

It’s not just business. Even anti-government ideologues rely on federal food inspections.  Even elderly Fox News viewers expect and need their Social Security checks. Local governments require the dependable remittance of federal program dollars. The list goes on.

The shutdown also exposed a previously unappreciated risk to private companies and not-for-profit organizations that do business with government–or more accurately, do the government’s business. Millions of Americans are effectively government workers due to the terms of outsourcing contracts–what we like to call privatization. (Estimates of the number of people who–although not technically employed by government– work full-time delivering government services run as high as 18 million.) The shutdown idled millions of those contract workers–and unlike employees who actually get their paychecks from government–they won’t be paid for their enforced “vacation.”

And of course, economists are busy calculating the amount of the economic “hit” caused by the shutdown, and estimated to be in the billions.

All of this damage was the consequence of a profoundly stupid demand for a wall that will never be built and would do nothing to deter undocumented immigration or drug traffic if it were.

The voters who still support this President want that wall as a symbol, not a barrier; they want to send a message to folks south of the border. We don’t want your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free–at least not if their skin is brown or black. I am more convinced than ever that Trump’s support comes from people who embrace a mythical American past in which white guys ruled the roost–where women were subservient and dependent, and other men were inferior by definition.

I do wonder how those supporters rationalize away the fact that Trump folded–completely caved–by accepting exactly the deal he’d initially rejected, and that the ignominious  end to his bluff was engineered by a highly competent woman.

That last fact is responsible for my shadenfreude.

I think I love Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy, Hillary And The Year Of The Woman

According to the media, this is “the year of the woman.”

More women are running for public office than ever before. The dramatic increase in political activism following the election began with Women’s Marches that turned out truly astonishing numbers of people, and political scientists who have studied the ongoing Resistance report that middle-aged suburban women are providing its backbone.

Many of these reports make it seem as if the dearth of female presence in Congress and Statehouses around the country is due to women’s previous lack of interest in running for office. Then America elected a male chauvinist pig as President, that election roused the sleeping maiden(s), and the surge in their political participation is the result.

If you accept that explanation, I have some swampland in Florida to sell you…

I’m not a fan of people who whine about victimization, but really, it takes a certain kind of obtuseness not to recognize the differences in the way political men and women are perceived and treated– the extra hurdles women candidates face, and the vicious demonization of those few who rise to positions of power.

Paul Krugman recently considered the case of Nancy Pelosi. He began by looking at the issues being raised by Republican Congressional candidates, noting that they weren’t running on the unpopular tax bill or even more unpopular trade war.

Instead, Republicans’ attack ads have increasingly focused on one of their usual boogeymen — or, rather, a boogeywoman: Nancy Pelosi, the former and possibly future speaker of the House.

So this seems like a good time to remind everyone that Pelosi is by far the greatest speaker of modern times and surely ranks among the most impressive people ever to hold that position. And it’s interesting to ask why she gets so little credit with the news media, and hence with the general public, for her accomplishments.

Krugman goes through a list of those accomplishments, which compare favorably to past Speakers we consider great (and which absolutely tower over the performance of Paul Ryan). Krugman notes that, compared with more modern House speakers–Gingrich, Hastert, Boehner, Ryan– Pelosi is a giant among dwarfs. But you’d never know that from her media coverage.

It’s quite a record. Oh, and whenever you hear Republicans claim that Pelosi is some kind of wild-eyed leftist, ask yourself, what’s so radical about protecting retirement income, expanding health care and reining in runaway bankers?

It’s probably also worth noting that Pelosi has been untouched by allegations of personal scandal, which is amazing given the right’s ability to manufacture such allegations out of thin air.

So why is Pelosi always portrayed as “divisive.” Why is she the preferred target of GOP attacks?

I mean, it’s true that she’s a political partisan — but no more so than any of the Republicans who preceded and followed her. Her policy stances are far less at odds with public opinion than, say, Ryan’s attempts to privatize Medicare and slash its funding. So what makes her “divisive”? The fact that Republicans keep attacking her? That would happen to any Democrat.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that she’s a woman — a woman who happens to have been far better at her job than any man in recent memory.

Ya’ think?

Hillary Clinton has been demonized for thirty years. It is certainly fair game to fault her campaign for miscalculations, or to recognize that she isn’t as charismatic as her husband. It’s fair to disagree with policy stances she’s taken. But she has performed admirably in every government position she’s held, and despite being constantly investigated, has never been found to have broken any law. Male officeholders routinely exhibit the behaviors for which she is excoriated, and almost never excite the same animosity.

Evidently, “uppity” women like Nancy and Hillary offend a lot of people’s notions of “proper womanhood.”

America has a lot at stake in November’s midterms. If–as I hope–there is a Democratic “wave,” a lot of Democratic women will be swept in with it. Along with all the other tasks facing them, they will need to join Elizabeth Warren, and persist— continuing the maddeningly slow process of culture change, normalizing the participation of women in government, and refusing to be stereotyped, demeaned and dismissed.

I hope it will prove to be the year of the woman. But we’re not there yet.