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Stephen Kaus

Stephen Kaus

Posted: May 8, 2006 01:58 AM

San Francisco Fog Engulfs Demos' Campaign


As Jeffrey Skilling testified at his trial a couple of weeks ago, he somehow came to be asked about the jury consultant his team was using. Skilling acknowledged using the consultant, saying that "She is helpful in trying to help me describe to people what I am trying to say."

Does Nancy Pelosi have anyone like this?

She must, but either that person has a completely tin ear or Ms. Pelosi is incapable of taking direction. Time and time again, she launched wooly, nonresponsive answers to Tim Russert's questions on Meet the Press. And the questions were not that hard, as Howard Dean proved over at ABC on essentially the same topic of what would the Democrats do if they won.

Anyone who has seen a trial or a political debate knows that if you are to appear trustworthy, you have to answer the question. At least say, "I don't know," but for God's sake, say something that appears to be non-evasive. Ms. Pelosi does not do this. After Pelosi gave a list of Democratic programs, Russert asked her if the Democrats would repeal the Bush tax cuts to pay for all this and Pelosi simply refused to answer the question and went into a series of vague "everything is on the table" roundelays. Russert asked her four times by my count (I will revise this if the transcript ever is posted UPDATE see bottom of post) and each time she avoided the question with all the grace of Scott McClellan. Is there some problem with saying, "if we need to restore the taxes on the wealthy, like the President of Exxon-Mobil, to balance the budget, that is what we will do?"

Pelosi would be dynamite at a college seminar, but if the Democrats are going to nationalize the campaign, she needs to have some appeal to voters in districts that are not 87% Democratic as is hers. She could even take lessons from Dianne Feinstein, the doyenne of San Francisco patrician politicians. Asked about domestic wiretapping on ABC, Feinstein immediately said that we have to protect national security, but it must be through warrants approved by the Federal Intelligence Court. Pelosi had some kind of "it must be done under the law' drivel that left me wondering if she thought Bush's methods should be changed or the law should be changed.

Finally she was completely defensive about whether the Democrats would launch investigations or even consider impeachment. Can she not even say that although she does not think impeachment is viable right now, Bush certainly is more deserving of impeachment than Clinton was?

Pelosi also had no answer on Iraq, beyond saying that 2006 should be a "year of transition." You would think that someone who has been against the war from Day One would at least demand that the leaders that took us into this debacle be purged, led by Rumsfeld.

The whole thing was so inside baseball and fuzzy that I was screaming at the TV as if it were Bush being interviewed. And please, lose the line that "it might take a woman to clean up the house." I don't want to spend the campaign bemoaning the leaders of the party, but these people are giving focus groups a bad name.

UPDATE
I found the transcript and I found this picture on Slate, credited to Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Pres,. that tells it all.

060508_Pol_PelosiTN.jpg

Transcript re: rolling back Bush tax cut:

MR. RUSSERT: But this will be huge subsidies to bring it about. Would you be willing to roll back the Bush tax cut to pay for it?

REP. PELOSI: This isn't--we are willing to put all of our, our initiatives on the table. We think they compete very well. One thing we'll roll back immediately are the Bush subsidies and royalty holidays which are around $20 billion dollars.

MR. RUSSERT: But would you repeal the Bush tax cut?

REP. PELOSI: Well, what I'm--what we're talking about here on energy independence is something that will save the American people money.

MR. RUSSERT: But it will take--it all takes money, Congressman. The Brazilian government has subsidized their industry.

REP. PELOSI: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you be willing to roll back the Bush tax cuts?

REP. PELOSI: I'll tell you something, if we could bring the war in Iraq to a conclusion, we would save a lot of money and could declare energy independence and this is the, this is the OPEC countries' worst nightmare, that we would be energy independent. The technology is there, the commitment is there, Democrats have a goal. We have a plan. We have a timetable to accomplish it and we intend to do so. And you know what? Do you know what we spend? Fifty billion dollars a year just protecting the sea lanes for the oil to come from the Middle East. That money can be spent to invest in this.

MR. RUSSERT: But why are you so reluctant to say you'll roll back the Bush tax cuts? Most Democrats voted against them.

REP. PELOSI: Well, I, myself, am against them. But the point is, is there are choices to be made in our budgets, and, and I will tell you more the Democrats are going to do when we take over the Congress of the United States. But this energy independence is worth--it is a high priority and I think the American people would agree. Now, we have a national security issue, an environmental issue, an economic issue and an energy issue, all well served by--by our energy independence. We have put this in writing. We are committed to it and this week our rural caucus will roll out, roll out.

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