March 31, 2010
My Affair with Nancy Pelosi

So what’s the deal, I’m asked these days, with Pelosi and me, are we still in love or what?

Well, lemme assure you that “what” continues to be the answer. Is she the most powerful Speaker in a century, as lots of people are saying right now? There’s even a Guardian article asking if she’s the most powerful woman in US history.

Admittedly this is not as high a standard here, where we’ve yet to have a female Chief Executive. And if you think about powerful women in US history, at least those who were politically powerful independent of their husbands, the vast majority of them are still alive. Women couldn’t even vote in most states until 1920. Eleanor Roosevelt, to take an example, was powerful in many ways, not nearly all of them based on her husband; but her influence was not that of a Speaker of the House. Governors like Sebelius and Palin are surely powerful — in their states. Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton? Secretary of State reports to somebody, in fact serves at his, underline his, discretion. Speaker of the House is #3 to the football. So, yes, I think by process of elimination she’s the most powerful woman in American political history.

Most powerful Speaker in a hundred years? I’m not a historian of the Congress, so I don’t know how much my opinion counts on this topic. But it seems to me that power involves more than reacting, it involves acting with some purpose. Other than self-maintenance, which of course all power is about. To me a powerful Speaker would convince, or perhaps I should say “convince”, other Representatives to act to change things, to move the ball down the field.

What I see Pelosi as doing is realizing that the Reid blows with the wind, and Obama’s never fought for anything. Her job title will change later this year, she’ll become The Woman Who Used to Be The Most Powerful Woman in US History, if she doesn’t get a bill passed. This gives her just as much leverage as Obama bought himself by making clear that he needed a bill, any bill: namely, none. It does, however, provide two vital items: desperation, and a clear goal. Or, put another way, I’m walking into a jewelry store with my girlfriend wearing a sign that says, “I have to buy a ring today.”

Given the clear goal, and the fact that she’s the Democrat with the most personal status, not to say power, to lose, she was able to coerce a reluctant administration and a weak Majority Leader to engage fully in passing a large bill. Their alternative was a Republican Speaker. Now she’s hoping that the size of the bill, its complexity and time-release nature, will get her over the November hump.

It’s a big gamble, because it’s easier to attack the bill ideologically than to point to immediate benefits for most people. And then there’s the gamble that the substance of the bill will turn out to be to peoples’ liking, which I personally doubt.

But the thing is, she had no choice. In chess terms, she’s not acting with the initiative in hand, she’s responding to threats. I don’t think of that as powerful, though in a sense it is. Being able to organize a successful defense of your citadel indicates prowess, no doubt. But what she defended was her personal situation.

Unless you see the bill as a big advance. There’s the rub. Pelosi would probably argue in essence that although it’s a big giveaway to the insurance and drug companies, she’s created something to build on. She’s not stupid enough to think the bill “covers” a single new person, regardless of her press releases.

The bill mandates the buying of insurance, but it does not, as far as I can tell, require insurance to cover the medical procedures you will need. And notice I say will, because it’s a dead stone lock that you will need them. So how can a business bet that you won’t need them, and still turn a profit? By goosing expenses, of course, but mainly by denying coverage. The bill lists reasons you can’t be denied coverage, and anyone who’s ever dealt with an insurance company knows what that means: the company will find a different reason when it stops being profitable to cover you.

So it seems to me that the overall effect of the bill is basically a negative one. Rather than attempting to fix the problem that we agree is likely to destroy the economy, we’re handing the whole mess over to the people who caused the problem and continue to profit from its existence. That’ll help.

I suspect the Speaker might argue in private that the bill has a chance of making things better precisely because it fails so utterly to make a difference in how we do things. Now that we’re criminalizing those who don’t buy insurance, it’ll be even more obvious how much we needed a public option, that watered-down version of what two-thirds of Americans have supported in polls for decades, single-payer. So Pelosi can claim to have put the inquiry to the country: do we need a public option? Thank God someone had the courage to state that question.

It’s certainly not leadership. Whether it’s power depends on whether your definition of power requires something other than self-preservation. Mine does, so I don’t think of Pelosi as a particularly powerful Speaker. Undoubtedly she’s an astute political player, she grew up in a political family; but she’s also working against the backdrop of the milquetoasts the Democrats have become.

To me the health care bill, despite having some positive features, seems like a failure, overall worse than no bill at all. But it could turn out that it’s only an initial failure which we’ll work to remedy for the next several decades, gradually producing some approximation of a reasonable system. Certainly we’ll be stuck trying to fix the problems Pelosi’s members forced her to insert for a long time. So she’s definitely made a mark on society, and that’s one definition of power.


Posted by Chuck Dupree at March 31, 2010 05:06 AM
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I want to commend all of you for working so hard and being so strong at helping the whitehouse and congress begin to address our U.S. and Global healthcare crisis. You have been AWESOME! my fellow Americans and peoples of the World. America and the World is better and safer for it. My greatest pride is the knowledge that I am one of you. And that you really get it. You really understand the importance of it all.

There are some potentially very good things in the healthcare legislation. Especially with the reconciliation fix's. The Democrats, Bernie Sanders and the Whitehouse did a GREAT! job of fighting to produce the best healthcare legislation that they could. They have earned all our strong support. And we should give it to them.

But it was your relentless pressure and hard work that made the difference. Whatever good comes from this healthcare legislation, America and the peoples of the World will have each of you to thank. You were smart, creative, courageous and relentless. You fought together for the best legislation possible. And when you had to, you fought alone. No matter who stumbled and fell you continued to push and forge ahead. Fighting for the lives and health of the American people and the World. YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF YOUR-SELVES :-)

It may come to pass that future generations will look back on us and say that we were ALL Americas Greatest Generations. And that healthcare reform was our finest hour. You should be proud of our leaders President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and the many other Democratic and independent fighters for the people in congress. They proved them-self worthy of the leadership of a GREAT! PEOPLE.

But we are not done yet. This was just the beginning of healthcare reform, not the end. WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, ARE NOT! divided on healthcare legislation. The vast majority of you have been consistently crystal clear that this legislation does not go far enough. You want a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. And you want it NOW! YOU MUST NOT ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

WE THE PEOPLE have been crystal clear that we want an end to dependence on for-profit healthcare and the for-profit proxies called private for non-profit healthcare. The American people want the CHOICE! of a strong Government-run Public Option to replace their need or dependence on healthcare providers whose primary motivation is profit. Rather than providing the highest quality, easiest accessible and most affordable medically necessary healthcare possible. This is what the rest of the developed World has. And the American people want it too. They want healthcare ASSURANCE! Not, for-profit health insurance. And they want it NOW!

Now is the time to continue the push for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone that wants it on day one. Rationally it's clear what we have to do to get this done. SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATS that supported you with a Public Option, and REMOVE as many republicans as you can. Not one republican in congress was willing to step across the isle to support a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. NOT ONE! Let no candidate prevail this November that does not support a Strong Government-run Public Option.

47,000 AMERICANS die each year from lack of healthcare. 120,000 die from treatable illness that don't die in other developed countries. Hundreds of thousands of you are dieing from medical accidents in a rush to profit. And Millions are injured. Millions are driven into bankruptcy. All for the privilege of paying two to three times as much as any other people in the developed world for healthcare. HOGWASH!

Additionally, tens of thousands of you and your children were killed and millions sickened and injured from a terror attack with H1N1 (swine flu). Released on the American people and the World by the for-profit healthcare industry. All in an attempt to panic and frighten you into excepting the oxymoronic criminal enterprise of private for-profit healthcare (The most costly, deadly, dangerous, and disgraceful product sold in America). H1N1 is still sickening people and killing them. Especially children, the young and the middle aged. And there will be a third wave. These are the terrorist you need to worry about the most. Even the so-called international terrorist would not do something so INSANE! But greed driven medical profiteers would and did.

Apparently as far as republicans in GOVERNMENT are concerned, YOU! my fellow Americans - CAN JUST DROP DEAD! Including their own family members. Fools! Hundreds of thousands of you, and possibly millions of you will die from the long-term effects of your infection and poisoning with H1N1.

So my fellow Human Beings. Rest-up, Take good care of the basics (Balanced nutrition, hydration, exercise, rest and POSITIVE emotional supports). Then wade back into the FIGHT! for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. Drug re-importation, Abolishment or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost, NOW! You must take back control of your healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings. I'm glad to know of you. And proud to be one of you.

See you on the battle field.


jacksmith - WorkingClass :-)

Posted by: jacksmith on March 31, 2010 3:14 PM
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