Nancy Pelosi Quotes

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Colombian (Not So) Pure


 

In these sorely divided political days, the NP Machine remains astonishingly predictable. It will unyieldingly bulldoze its way through anything, even its own past creations and credibility, if it needs to meet a short-term need. Take NP's Committee chairmanship battles or the Energy Bill for example. Or this week, Colombian Free Trade.

President Bush and free-traders on both sides of the aisle (and the government of Colombia) sat down to play the free-trade game by Washington's usual rules. It goes like this: Secure an up or down free trade vote authority from Congress in advance, then get to work accommodating the usual anti-trade demands, for example labor and environmental standards. Next, negotiate, set conditions, draft and re-draft a package that everyone can reasonably live with in both nations and on both sides of the aisles. Along the way secure Congressional majority party leader support (last May from NP) and stuck to a predictable timetable. And when you are done, ask for the up or down vote. Colombia was a text-book example, until NP made her play. As Bloomberg.com writes

The Democratic-controlled House voted April 10 to deny President George W. Bush's request for a vote on the trade pact within 90 days, likely postponing action until after the November elections. It is the first time Congress has refused a presidential request to pass a trade agreement.

NP has effectively consigned Colombian free trade to limbo - as well as US free trade credibility with other nations. Why? Both Hillary and Obama are happily bashing free trade and there is some need to appear to be a united party. But the real reason is that the unions are paying ever so handsomely for ever less free-trade. And shutting off the union tap of money at this time is simply unthinkable. The 2008 Congressional and Presidential elections need all the ammunition they can get against a united Republican front. And besides, who cares about Colombia, right? A bit of President Bush name dropping onto that free-trade deal and we come off as moral heroes again, right?

Wrong. NP blew up the only negotiation process left to US trade negotiators which provides any hope of Congressional good-faith for other trading nations. A big component of US Congressional support was the Colombian government reducing its domestic violence. And Colombia lived up to its end of the bargain. The fallout from all this is ugly. NP is in damage control mode, trying to accuse Bush of sending the legislation to Congress without their consent and point to what US unions call "excessive" levels of violence against labor organizers in Colombia. But none of this addresses that fact that if the House Speaker wishes to tear down a free-trade deal that is in the works, there are far better ways than this – ways that do not openly damage trust in the US as a reliable trade negotiation partner.

A bitter U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said ``There is no rational explanation, other than politics -- pure, partisan politics -- to explain why the Congress isn't rushing to enact this into law. `There are some things that count more than the substance and the actual, factual benefits to the U.S. economy of increasing U.S. exports.''

NP calls this "leverage." You know the kind. "Don't play chicken with me while I steer my bulldozer at you." But such leverage comes with absurd costs to the bulldozer operator. Threatening, then knocking down a nearly completed building project because the owner did not give you want you want fails to demonstrate moral authority or leadership. And the price to clean up the mess is always higher that the worth of the original threat. NP's House State Department loses some diplomatic points here. As do American exports, and balance of trade, and future good faith. Not much good press there.

Nor is the NP Machine getting positive media play on Tibet. The global left-of-center papers are writing their usual pro-NP columns, but they preach to the choir. Where NP's vast media skills were needed were within China itself. What still bothers the Chinese press, specifically Xinhuanet's Commentary writers, is not so much NP long-standing opposition to China's control of Tibet, or even calls to boycotting the Olympics, but of her positioning of herself as a "moral authority." Had NP used her talents to skillfully incorporate China's Tibet position, address her own weaknesses in Beijing's eyes and still come up with a point or two for her concept of Tibet could have done a great deal. (For example, NP as the first US woman Speaker does things differently). But alas no. As Xinhua states "If an opinion poll were to be carried out on the Internet in China to choose the most disgusting figure, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would probably be on top of the list, as she confused right with wrong on the issue of Tibet, held double standards to interfere in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and impaired China-U.S. relations."

Xinhua essentially complains of the same NP hypocrisy that keeps NP's US citizen satisfaction ratings so low at home. A mounting array of high-stakes broken promises and broken expectations, but non-stop "I'm doing a great job for the American people." War, impeachment, price of oil, cleanest Congress ever… Not even the promise of a 5 day work week. The NP ratio of Fantasy over Reality remains stuck in the duplicity zone. But it is at least predictable.

And the NP Machine likes predictable things, like using media airtime to spin even more airtime. NP used a classic Clinton jab, guaranteed to simulate media attention. ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper's blog covers how NP turned the long-legged Hillary Clinton's Bosnian Tall Tales into an opportunity– as prompted by CBS's Bob Schieffer. NP, when asked to comment on Bill Clinton's defense of his wife's wildly exaggerated accounting of her 1996 Bosnia trip, said the following...

"I can't for the life of me figure out why the president would have said it except he may have been having a late night adult moment," Pelosi told CBS's Bob Schieffer, "but let's leave it at that."

NP, score a media point for you. The Obama camp will like it. As will a smiling Bill Clinton who will get off the hook from another whopper.

But a little more decorum would be welcome. As would a bit more attention to genuine moral authority out here in the real world.

As the third most powerful leader of the nation, and as a top party official, blasting trade deals and China and even Hillary may seem profitable, in the short-term. But even the Elite face must face their own long-term costs. With 15 months out as Speaker how about addressing some long-term costs, openly and honestly? Its unpredictable and off-message (heaven forbid!), but could be precisely what is needed in a polarized, two-faced 2008 election.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Never Let Money Come Between The Voter And You

Zig Ziglar once said "Money will buy you a bed, but not a good night's sleep, a house but not a home, a companion but not a friend."  How about Superdelegates but not the nomination?

The NP Machine remains in the Superdelegate crossfire.  Circulating in the blogosphere is a  a scathing private letter sent by twenty top Hillary fundraisers and donors to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, chastising NP for publicly saying that the super-delegates should support the winner of the pledged delegate count and demanding that she say that they should make an "independent" choice.

NP in theory need not worry about these twenty - no doubt they have maxed out their legal contributions to Hillary.  But top Hillary Clinton fundraisers have clout in many other areas.  They have a huge investment in Hillary they do not want to see lost.  And they have no issue with making life difficult for anyone in their way.  Standing in the way of their multi-millionaire entitlement mentality provokes a fierce reaction.

But that isn't the only letter on NP's desk.  Another is from the White House announcing that the United State-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement vote is headed to Congress.  

"...six cabinet secretaries, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Friday announcing that since they failed to reach agreement with her to hold a vote on the trade pact before the August recess, “we will need to transmit the bill in order to assure a vote this year.”

NP has once again ended up on the wrong side of her party's current mood swings, this time on free trade.  Last spring NP was shoulder to shoulder with US Trade negotiators seeking to announce an agreement "to restore a bipartisan consensus on trade."  But now with unemployment in the news and Obama and Hillary bashing NAFTA NP can't stick to her deal anymore.  But this one will be easy enough to spin at the White House... How about another stimulus deal or no deal?

Even with discussion of a second stimulus package, the average citizen might begin to feel that NP this week represented only big donors,  big business, or big war.  The People's Voice writes

Getting back to the Gang of Three. Pelosi, Clinton and Mikulski, have consistently voted to fund the Iraq War, which pleases the dickens out of the money-grubbing hogs that make up the Military-Industrial Complex.

But there is nothing to fear.  The Clinton Patented "I Feel Your Pain" response is instinctive to NP - witness how she creatively linked two dissimilar concepts to show compassion for the American motorist...   

Speaker Pelosi On Rising Gas Prices and the War in Iraq
:

"Think of this: Our troops, our military units in Iraq, are paying about $3.25 a gallon of gas, approximately what we pay in the U.S. - that's our military units in Iraq - while Iraqis are paying $1.36 a gallon for gas at the pump. This is a raw deal for America's taxpayers, and it is really hard to explain."

It isn't that hard to explain. The Iraqi government subsidises gasoline with revenue from oil sales - giving people a visible, tangible benefit from the nation's oil.  However, with Iraqi revenue and fuel supply tight, Hummers tanking up at $1.35 means Iraqi's with their cars and generators would not.  But you can't let mere reality get in the way.  Unless $1.35 is a potential third stimulus package.

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