If you love politics and political theater, there are few greater delights, regardless of your partisan views, than watching a veteran politician hold court over the media.
A really skilled one treats the media as if they've wandered into her living room where she can confide in them. She can say with a twinkle in her eye, "You know what I'm talking about, right?" A superb politician leavens serious issues with wisecracks, moves from sweeping rhetoric to nitty-gritty procedure--and does it with a smile.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does exactly that each Thursday morning as she puts on her master-class news conferences. She routinely skewers Republicans (quoting President Ronald Reagan back to them), touts her freshmen Congress members, exhorts us to remember our history, and displays her utter disdain for a White House with no respect for the Constitution.
Last Thursday, Pelosi was in tip-top form. She began by recalling the congressional visit to the commemoration last year of the Battle of the Bulge. (President Donald Trump didn't bother to go.) She swelled with admiration as she extolled the bravery of our troops who were mere teenagers in December 1944. She recounted that an about 90-year-old veteran ended his speech at the event by telling the crowd, "Pray for peace."
Pelosi was there to announce the vote on war powers but also to lay into the White House for the "worst" security briefing, as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) described it, and the White House's unconstitutional insistence that it could not brief Congress on the information because they had "held it in closely."
Pelosi repeated incredulously, "Held it in closely?!" She argued, "The administration conducted a provocative, disproportionate airstrike against Iran, which endangered Americans, and did so without consulting Congress."
That's unacceptable, she made clear, and she intends to enforce the House's prerogatives.
She rebutted Republicans' insulting suggestion that Democrats were sympathetic toward Iran or its killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. She patiently explained, "It's not about how bad they are. It's about how good we are." She said flatly, "Here we are to protect American lives and values. We are passing today a war powers resolution to limit the president's military actions. The administration must deescalate."
It was another bravura performance by a wily politician, another reminder that as low as the intellectual wattage and as contemptuous of the Constitution the White House has become, there's a bright light on in the speaker's office keeping up the fight to protect an equal branch of government.
Along with peace, we should all be praying for her success.
Editorial on 01/13/2020
Print Headline: Message from Madam Speaker