Zachary Coile has put together an excellent summary of Speaker Pelosi’s first year.
Since I often complain about the reporting we get these days, I make a special effort to applaud the reporting I appreciate. So I complimented him on an excellent article about the historic first year of the first woman to be Speaker of the House. But I had one issue (punctuation/links modified to fit the medium):
Though I live in her district, I didn’t vote for her because of disagreements with her stands and actions on the recent wars, and the Middle East in general. I was aware of most of the items you mentioned in your article when they happened, but putting them into a big picture is helpful (I used to be a tech writer). Your piece made clear that in the big picture Pelosi’s tenure has seen some encouraging signs of the return of the values of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. I hope the New Year brings more of them.
There’s one item I consider important that I think your list overlooked. In fact to me it’s of overriding importance. I applaud the successes of the first Pelosi year; I understand and commiserate with the defeats and frustrations; and I’ve seen the numbers on the filibusters by Senate Republicans, who were trying to abolish the filibuster only a couple of years back.
My single biggest issue is the preservation of the United States as a republic, more or less under public control, with sovereignty residing — actually, not merely theoretically — with the people. That concept has been under assault for several administrations.
The Constitution begins by describing Congress, the representatives of the people. Next comes the President, who is not supposed to be superior to Congress, or become an emperor. But this President, driven by his Vice President, has run roughshod over the Constitution and openly gotten away with power-grabs far more significant than any Richard Nixon dreamed of. If these actions are not investigated, fully, no matter what office they reach, the next power-tripping President will be the end of the Republic.
You’ve probably read the statement of the lawyers mentioned in The Nation. If we consider this subject too unpleasant to look at or do anything about, we’ve ceded full control to the Executive, and that means empire. The problem for us is that we’ll get all the worst of empire without the benefits. We’ve already had those, and we’re on the verge of giving them up to get security; then we won’t get security either.
Speaker Pelosi has opposed efforts, by Chairman Conyers in particular, to open investigations that might lead to impeachment proceedings. To me, this is the single biggest issue we face, of more importance for our lifetimes even than Iraq, the economy, and health care: do we maintain the rule of law? If the President can flaunt his disregard for it and pay no penalty, be subject to no sort of censure, not even lose a political battle, the Republic is over, and Congress serves the same purpose as the Roman Senate under Augustus.
Your article helped convince me that this is the major issue standing between me and voting for Pelosi. The thing is, it’s my number one issue. Regardless of actions intelligent or otherwise on the important issues of the day, if the United States follows the lead of Rome or Spain rather than that of Britain and France, the next half-century looks ugly.
Thanks again for helping me center my attention on the real issues. I’ve made some changes in my overall evaluations as a result.
Which, I maintain, is what you want reporting to do. Thanks, Zachary!
As postscript, here’s the preamble to the lawyers’ statement.
We, the undersigned lawyers in the United States, have been inspired by the many lawyers in Pakistan who have risked their own liberty and careers in an effort to preserve their nation’s freedoms.
Their courage has deepened our own resolve to defend the rule of law in our nation. As lawyers, we have both a moral and professional responsibility to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States.
To that end, we are committed to creating a movement of lawyers in this nation dedicated to monitoring and, when appropriate, challenging the actions of our government when those actions threaten our nation’s freedoms.
As our initial act, we are issuing the following statement to the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees, urging hearings into the unconstitutional and possibly criminal actions of the Bush Administration.