Nancy Pelosi has made it clear in many ways that she is not going to be an open-minded woman when it comes to the minority Republicans in Congress. Not only is she going to be teaching President Obama who the boss is in Washington, but she’s also really not interested in getting anything done for the American people. She wants payback.
On Fox News Sunday, Pelosi broached the subject, or, should I say, beat a dead horse when talking about what she calls the politicizing of the Justice Department. Every Justice Department is politicized; that’s why they are called political appointments. To make matters worse, House Democrats recommended a criminal investigation to see if administration officials broke the law in the name of national security. The report cited the interrogation of foreign detainees, warrantless wiretaps, retribution against critics, manipulation of intelligence, and the fired prosecutors. President Obama has been more cautious. He said he believes there is a need to look forward as opposed to looking backward.
So what’s the minority Republican caucus to do? The picture of the bully fighting with the little guy comes to mind. The bully holds her arm out and the little guy is swinging and swinging in hopes of just landing a punch. Most of the time, the little guy loses the fight, but sometimes the little guy wins. The Republican minority needs to get into serious training because this is a fight to the finish.
During the first week of the 111th Congress, Pelosi and company stripped away the last remnants of the rules put in place by Newt Gingrich and the Republican revolution to give some voice to the then-minority Democrats. The Republicans gave voice to their minority. Sure, they were in power and the cards were stacked in their favor, but the Democrats were not completely shut out of the process. Nancy Pelosi wants no loyal opposition.
President Obama appears to want to reach out, but we are not sure what that means. Is it having meetings with people across the aisle and then going forward with your own legislation? Is it a feel-good gesture or is it substantive? I think it is twofold. Pelosi wants nothing to do with any success for the Republicans and she wants to create a smoke screen of investigating Bush administration officials to provide cover for Charlie Rangel and others in the most corrupt majority in history. Obama wants to take the country to the left, but he’s an academic who values all opinions. He will either make decisions taking into account all opinions and make people feel good about their input or he’ll be arbitrary and begin to turn groups against him. The ironic thing is his support by the far left is much more tenuous than the skepticism on the right.
Obama has the highest approval ratings of any entering president in my memory, but Nancy Pelosi has the power in the House. Harry Reid is a different matter. Because he’s been so weakened by the ridiculous discussions about whether he will seat a senator or not, he appears unnecessary. Reid’s personality cannot match the aura of Obama or the bare-knuckles approach of Nancy Pelosi. Reid’s only hope to become relevant in this administration is to show that he can complete legislation that comes to him from the House. With the unknowns of the Franken-Coleman race in Minnesota still unsettled, the Senate seems unlike the collegial image it had through its history.
Congressman John Shadegg and Congressman Lynn Westmoreland know what the fight will be like. Shadegg has been in the leadership of the Congress when Republicans were in control and Westmoreland laid the groundwork in the Georgia General Assembly for a Republican takeover and knows a thing or two about being in the minority in government.
One of the key issues is national security, which I predict that two years down the road will still look a great deal like the Bush administration. If Obama changes things and we get hit again, he’s in serious trouble. The other is the economy. We can’t spend our way out of this; we have to work our way out — and by “we,” I mean the American people, not the government. Protecting the tax cuts is the most important thing to your pocketbook and to our economy. If the minority in Congress can win on those two issues, they have a chance to stop the bleeding from their loss of power.
For the short term, the minority party has few tools. This is not the Republican revolution of 1994; it is more like the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.