THE BLOG

A Bad Week for Nancy Pelosi

06/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Blame it on the Henny?

What did she know? When did she know it? The CIA said they told her. She says they didn't and suddenly it's the worst week ever for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Watching high level political and security leaders play a national game of He Said, She Said is disappointing and embarrassing. It means Bowling for Soup has it right when they sing their signature song "High School Never Ends."

Why the disparate briefing recollections about the use of waterboarding on detainees at Guantanamo Bay? Perhaps it's a case of Occam's Razor, that the simplest answer is usually the correct one.

For example, it could be a simple matter of time, as in how much of it did Nancy actually spend at the briefing? If she arrived late and left early she could have missed the bit about waterboarding. Did she doze off? A politician's life is filled with three things: meetings, meetings and a few more meetings. Between staff meetings, budget meetings, committee meetings, secret meetings, breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings there's bound to be some nodding off. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying I've been there.

It's plausible that while dozing, a portion of the meeting seeped into Pelosi's subconscious, giving her what she thought was just a horrible dream about waterboarding. Startled awake she probably sat straighter in her chair, checked her chin for drool and hoped she hadn't been snoring.

And then there's texting. There have been quite a few stories in the news about people texting while driving cars, trains and planes, with disastrous consequences. If folks are willing to risk texting while operating heavy machinery, they'll certainly do it in more comfortable settings. Could this be a case of texting while briefing? Maybe Nancy mentally checked out of the meeting with a little modern day doodling at a rather inopportune moment. LOL, not.

These are all very human mistakes that anybody can make, but Nancy Pelosi isn't just anybody. She's the Speaker of The House. Granted, she wasn't Speaker when this briefing happened but that's irrelevant. The higher up you are on the food chain, the less room you have to make mistakes.

As if enjoying an early Christmas, the Republicans are having a field day with Pelosi. She is to them what George Bush is to The Left: The root of all evil. The perfect pinata. As a former Speaker himself, Newt Gingrich has been very vocal, dishing out some seriously scathing sound bites:

"Speaker Pelosi's the big loser, because she either comes across as incompetent or dishonest. Those are the only two defenses. The fact is, she either didn't do her job, or she did do her job and she's now afraid to tell the truth."

Incompetent or dishonest? Not much face saving room there. Unfortunately, Pelosi can't "tell the truth" the way Gingrinch sees it. The three things people in power can never say - if they want to stay in power - are: I don't know. I don't remember. I made a mistake.

These are career killers. People will tell you how much they admire your candor while helping you pack up your office, silently hoping you never ask them for a reference. True though it may be, Nancy Pelosi just simply cannot say: "I'm sorry America. I didn't hear the CIA mention waterboarding at the briefing because I was busy updating my FaceBook profile." That would totally piss off the Republicans on MySpace. She could blame it on the "ah-ah-ah-alcohol," but Jamie Foxx beat her to it.

But what if Pelosi is telling the truth? What if she's not trying to deny, deflect or defame by accusing the CIA of lying? I mean, it is the CIA. They get paid to gather intelligence through professional prevarication. Lying to a congressional committee just keeps the mendicant muscle strong. They probably assumed no one in the meeting was actually listening, what with all the tardiness, napping and texting.

Too simple? Then it's probably true.