DENVER– On the heels of a Saturday interview where she proclaimed that she is not a “Washington insider,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to the Democratic National Convention’s main stage Monday to preach change. After delivering a lengthy series of platitudes, however, the only change most viewers were thinking about was changing the channel.
“America stands at a crossroads, with an historic choice between two paths,” proclaimed Pelosi. “One is a path of renewing opportunity and promoting innovation here at home, and of greater security and respect around the world…but there is another path — it leads us to the same broken promises and failed policies that have diminished the American dream and weakened the security of our nation.”
While Pelosi’s remarks were clearly designed to establish a viable contrast between GOP presumed presidential nominee John McCain and Democratic selection Barack Obama, it wasn’t always clear which path she was advocating.
After all, with 11 terms in Congress under her belt, and with the last two years spent as the House’s highest ranking official, Pelosi found herself railing against the Washington machine that we’re supposed to identify not with her, but with McCain.
“We call this convention to order tonight to put America on the path begun by our founders — a path that renews America’s promise for a new century,” she said.
But with Pelosi at the helm, we’ve seen government spending continue to escalate, the war in Iraq persist, and gas hitting $4 a gallon. She can only blame so much of this turmoil on President George W. Bush. Congressional Democrats — now in leadership — also remain culpable.
Pelosi’s attempt to highlight the successes of her party also fell flat. In her remarks, Pelosi claimed to be “very proud of the Democrats in Congress.” But proud of what, exactly? Since breaking through what she calls “the marble ceiling” in January 2007 to take over as Speaker, Pelosi has very little to show for her own efforts.
“After years of inaction by Republicans, in our very first act, we passed the 9/11 Commission recommendations to protect the American people. That was just the beginning.”
How many Americans even know what the 9/11 Commission actually recommended? Take a quick survey around your office and you’ll quickly get your answer. Not many.
While Pelosi started with national security, she quickly moved on to recording how Democrats in leadership have promoted the socialist policies of yesterday, including raising the minimum wage, expanding college aid, and passing “legislation to keep hard-working American families in their homes.”
Other highlights, as selected by Pelosi: “We helped rebuild the Gulf Coast for the survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We put recovery rebates into the hands of more than 130 million families.”
There was not a single reference to the Democrats’ comprehensive economic plan — presumably because it doesn’t exist. She says “America needs a president who knows our democracy depends on a strong middle class, and who will create millions of good-paying jobs right here at home.” But Pelosi’s decades in Washington have led her to believe the incredibly powerful lie that it’s government — not people — that creates sustainable and lasting jobs.
Pelosi closed her remarks by claiming “Democrats know we can’t afford any more of the same failed Republican path.” But Pelosi, like all Democrats seeking to win over former Bush supporters, faces an incredibly difficult predicament. She must successfully call for change in Washington without indicting her own party’s lack of success.
When Pelosi was asked at a Saturday briefing sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor whether she classified herself as a “Washington insider,” the Hill newspaper reports that she responded with, “Oh, absolutely not. No.”
According to Pelosi, it’s all about “state of mind” and not length in years. “Inside, outside — you have to know the territory so you can work it, but you never become a part of it,” she said. But Pelosi is part of it — in fact, she’s running the show. And at the DNC microphone, she becomes a Republican fantasy.
If now is the time for change, Nancy’s got to go too.