Sunday, October 22, 2006

The character of Nancy Pelosi

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Let's face it, Nancy Pelosi has long been taking a brutal beating at the hands of Republicans and their character-assassination machine. As a surprisingly positive profile of the House minority leader in yesterday's Washington Post explains, "Republicans have sought to scare voters by portraying Pelosi as a liberal extremist who would be weak on national security and prone to raises taxes if her party were back in control".

Republicans hope to win next month by portraying Democrats as, in essence, enablers of terrorism and the enemies of GOP-defined freedom. It's a smear campaign that has grown all the more desperate, and all the more repugnant, with poll numbers showing Democrats well ahead and poised to win back the House and, if all goes right in at least seven of eight key Senate races, the Senate, too, not to mention to do well at the state level.

Which is why Republicans aren't even holding back in their relentless attacks on Pelosi personally. "On his Web site, Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) calls the prospect of Pelosi becoming speaker 'just plain scary' and says: 'While Republicans fight the War on Terror,… House Democrats plot to establish a Department of Peace.'" Such ad hominem rhetoric isn't even shocking anymore. It's how the GOP operates.

To be fair, Pelosi isn't perfect. She can indeed be "stiff and tentative in public," and, to me at least, she often seems to project an air of detached elitism and condescension that, however unintentional, overwhelms the substance of her message.

And yet she is clearly ready, both personally and politically (note her fundraising success), to take on the Herculean task of cleaning up the House after 12 long years of corrupt and unjust Republican rule, as well as of reversing the Republican policies that have so damaged America both at home and abroad. It won't easy, if the Democrats win, and there are many across the aisle who will wish her nothing but the worst and who, embittered further by loss, will attempt to thwart her at every turn, but I for one am eager to welcome the speakership of Nancy Pelosi.

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