Monday, March 15, 2010

Health care reform shorts: Pelosi time

This will be the week that my Congresscritter shows her stuff. If we get the much weakened, but probably ground breaking, version of insurance reform Democrats have muddled their way to, Nancy Pelosi will be the closest thing to a hero in the story. The President and White House political operation have been pathetic; their part of the job was to set the table, making it nearly impossible for Congress not to want to be part of the banquet. Instead they've been pretty much AWOL til the last month ... and vacillated when they showed up. The Senate has meanwhile demonstrated a level of institutional dysfunction that begs for reform or maybe just abolition -- what do most of us need with this egocentric, anti-majoritarian clunker anyway?

Though it all, Pelosi has been the only steadfast voice saying that elected Democrats must get done the job we elected them to do. She's not the most felicitous explainer, but here's what she said in a press conference last week.

I have supported -- when I say support, signs in the street, advocacy in legislatures -- I have supported single payer for longer than many of you have been -- since you've been born, than you've lived on the face of the earth. ...

...So I believe we have a very strong bill that will increase competition, will lower cost for the American people and accomplish some of the same goals. It doesn't produce the same savings, and that's why, you know, we were fighting for it. ...What we will have in reconciliation will be something that is agreed upon, House and Senate, that we can pass and they can pass.


This week, health care reform is on her turf, the turf she sometimes seems to value above all else, the land of the legislative intricacies of U.S. Congress. And in that arcane arena, she's the master, prodding, pushing, herding small egos, greedy mediocrities and quaking violets to assemble momentary majorities. I wouldn't bet against Nancy if she says she can push something through the House.

The very virtue that sets her apart in Washington makes her a less than perfect representative for her constituents. Her base is her House caucus members -- that's who she must attend to. We in San Francisco elect her, but where she lands on issues has almost nothing to do with our wants; she does what she needs to do to hold together her fractious cats. Most of her geographical constituents are happy and proud to have elected this first woman Speaker of the House. Some of us wish more of her energies went into our issues, for example, ending Obama's Afghanistan adventure.

But this week, on health care reform, I expect to see my Congresscritter at her best.


barry knister said...

Anyone who had doubts about Nancy Pelosi's grit and intelligence should seek out Rachel Maddow's interview with her last week. What's frustrating is that the very people who should see the interview never will. They are all watching Fox, the way liberals are all watching MSNBC.

Darlene said...

I admire Nancy Pelosi and cringe when the far right, who hate her, disparage her. I just hope she sticks up for the Public Option.

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