“She entered the room beaming and, over the course of an hour, smiled no fewer than 31 times and got off at least 23 laughs. But her spirits soured instantly when somebody asked about the anger of the Democratic ‘base’ over her failure to end the war in Iraq.
“‘Look,’ she said, the chicken breast on her plate untouched. ‘I had, for five months, people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San Francisco, angering neighbors, hanging their clothes from trees, building all kinds of things — Buddhas? I don’t know what they were — couches, sofas, chairs, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk.’
“Unsmilingly, she continued: ‘If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have ‘Impeach Bush’ across their chest, it’s the First Amendment.’
Poor people do indeed sleep in the streets of San Francisco, as anyone who has ever been to our downtown area will readilyÂ attest, and yet isn’t there something a little … scary about Pelosi’sÂ Marie AntoinettishÂ remark that seems to equate the homeless with rubbish that is rightfully swept away?Â It’s a sensitive subject in San Francisco, where compassionate liberalism — as opposed to Pelosi’s “liberalism” — is part of theÂ City’s culture.Â
I live in Nancy’s neighborhood, and we’ve bumped into each other, although not much. Having run against her (as the Republican nominee) in 1996, I had a bit of trouble getting her into a face-to-face: she refused to debate, and this imperious attitude evoked not a murmur of comment on the local political scene. I ran as the antiwar candidate, but since the war I was protesting back then was the Kosovo war, Bay Area liberals weren’t interested. Now, of course, there are people camped outÂ on her lawn, trying to get an audience with Her Imperial(ist) Majesty, to no avail.
Â Milbank continues:
“Though opposed to the war herself, Pelosi has for months been a target of an antiwar movement that believes she hasn’t done enough.Â Cindy SheehanÂ has announced a symbolic challenge to Pelosi in California’s 8th Congressional District. And the speaker is seething.
“‘We have to make responsible decisions in the Congress that are not driven by the dissatisfaction of anybody who wants the war to end tomorrow,’ Pelosi told the gathering at the Sofitel, arranged by the Christian Science Monitor. Though crediting activists for their ‘passion,’ Pelosi called it ‘a waste of time’ for them to target Democrats. ‘They are advocates,’ she said. ‘We are leaders.'”
Well then why doesn’t she start leading? Instead, she’s following the advice of Democratic spin-doctors who would much ratherÂ have the war as an issue in the upcoming presidential election than make any “risky” politicalÂ move to actually bring our troops home. “We don’t have the votes,” they whine, butÂ they’re lying: if the House, where they have a majority,Â votes down war funding, then the money can’t be spent. Period. The Democratic leadership rules this course out altogether, because they claim they’re frightened to death of being blamed for the defeat of our forces. Who lost Iraq? is not a question they feel prepared to answer under those circumstances.Â
BetterÂ Iraqis and Americans should continue to die than the Democrats should have to get up off their knees, and rise to the occasionÂ like real leaders, instead of craven opportunists. Aside from which, their opportunism is seriously misplaced: over 70 percent of the American people have had it up to here with this rotten war.Â Â
Why are those people camped out inÂ LaÂ Pelosi’s meticulously-manicured yard? Well, maybe because of this.
Yes, Nancy, it’s the First Amendment, and I hope every homeless personÂ in town scoots on over to your digs with an “Impeach Bush” sign on the back of his cardboard placard imploring “Will Work forÂ an End to the War — but I’ll settle forÂ a square meal.” Â
I like Milbank’s take on it:
“It was a rather fierce response to the party’s liberal base, which frightens many a congressional Democrat. But it wasn’t out of character for the new speaker. Pelosi’s fixed and constant smile makes her appear as if she is cutting an ad for a whitening toothpaste. But when you listen to the words that come from her grinning maw, the smile seems more akin to that of a barracuda.”
He got that right.