Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Reading Between the Lines: Pelosi’s Fight for Power

To understand politics you must be able to read between the lines, especially when it involves the “elites” of modern American politics. Take Nancy Pelosi for example.

A recap of recent events would help set the stage.

Earlier this year Nancy Pelosi and other prominent democrats continued to criticize the Bush administration and accuse it of breaking the law by water boarding terror suspects. They called it torture and demanded that Bush administration officials be investigated and prosecuted for having provided the legal precedence and opinions that provided cover for the program.

Republicans responded that Democrat leadership in Congress was fully informed of all techniques being used. Pelosi stepped into a hornets’ nest by stating that she, for one, was never apprised of the practice.

Leaks soon appeared in the media that the Speaker was informed of Bush era policies and their implementation. Pelosi responded by openly accusing the CIA of lying to her and Congress (she bypassed the usual term “mislead” and almost immediately went to “lie”).

Unidentified sources in the CIA immediately leaked the dates of the briefings at which the Speaker was present and what was discussed in those meetings, including memo’s and agenda’s proving the subject was discussed. Ms. Pelosi lamely stated she wasn’t at the briefings and made excuses that members of her staff never briefed her on what was said in those meetings (yet took to disciplinary action against the staff members).

Republicans, sensing blood in the water called her bluff and called for hearings into the Ms. Pelosi’s accusations. The Democrat director of the CIA even released a statement stating that the briefings did take place and that there was no indication the CIA had lied to or mislead the Speaker.

So now let’s read between the lines. Almost everything you need to know is included in the synopsis above.

The first thing to understand is that President Obama has allowed Democrat leaders to write most of his legislation for him. The President then stood back and took credit for additional TARP (Troubled Asset Recovery Project) and ARRA (American Recovery and Restoration Act) legislation. Naturally you can see why some of the leadership of his own party might feel slighted at that.

Next understand that the Democrat Party base was after Bush administration blood and desperately wanted investigations into “enhanced interrogation techniques”. To appease these people Obama released memo’s detailing what techniques were used, on who, and how often (although he didn’t release what the outcome of those techniques was). This fanned the flames of the left, but the administration refused to start investigations.

In hope of appealing to the party faithful the Speaker echoed the cry for investigations. It also would serve as a spotlight for her if she could pressure the administration into conducting the investigations.

At this point you have to ask yourself that if she was indeed briefed, why would she say she wasn’t? That has to be easy to understand; she wanted to grand stand and she felt the administration would dare call one of their party leaders a liar. She miscalculated.

It’s easy to understand why the administration wouldn’t want to investigate legal opinions that allowed torture. The administration’s own lawyers had just come to the same legal opinions as the Bush administration had (they were deporting a former Nazi under the same legal interpretation that if he was tortured in Germany for information the US couldn’t be held responsible because it didn’t undertake its actions with the intent of torturing the prisoner). They were suddenly looking for any way they could to divert attention away from the subject and here was the Speaker forcing their hand.

I think the initial leaks out of the CIA were genuine leaks by agents that feared investigation and felt betrayed by the Speakers comments, but you know that in an organization such as the CIA, leaks don’t continue if the agency doesn’t want them to.

Pelosi’s response therefore was a slap in the face of the administration and probably intended to force it into caving into the Speaker’s demands (and ultimately sharing power and spotlight). It should be obvious to anyone that Leon Panetta’s public statement backing the CIA was the administration’s power punch in response. They left the Speaker publically isolated and alone. She was a public laughing stock overnight.

In short, the administration put her back in her place and retook control of the public agenda.

If you can’t read between the lines and you think it’s all about ideology, you’ll never understand American politics. It’s important to ask why people are saying what they are saying and examine the long term effect of every statement.

I’m not saying that nothing is done on the basis of principle in Washington, I’m just saying that there are always power considerations, and the elitist establishment throws the hardest fastball. Do both sides of the isle play this game? Yes. Who does it the most? The people who think they have been born with a superior intellect and think of themselves as not just another American, but as part of an elite group which understands better than almost anybody else.

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