Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 14, 2002
POLITICS: Pelosi and Ford
Chris Suellentrop at Slate starts off defending Nancy Pelosi against charges that she's too liberal, but winds up with faint praise more damning than anything her critics on the Right have written: "While it's true that Pelosi's views, particularly on war and foreign policy, are out of step with much of the American public's, they're right in the mainstream of what House Democrats believe."
Suellentrop's comparison to Tom DeLay is a fair one, but the GOP has the president too; what Pelosi does as well is get the GOP off the hook for DeLay's unapologetic conservatism.
Meanwhile, Harold Ford intends to go down fighting.
If the goal is to set himself up as the alternative if Pelosi's a disaster, this may not be a bad move; if he's gunning for higher office outside the House (which is likely), Ford's quixotic campaign is a brilliant piece of triangulation: "It is our responsibility to articulate a coherent governing agenda. . . In the short term, we would take immediate action to stimulate our economy. We would shift the tax cuts that do not take effect for several years into immediate tax relief for all Americans and businesses. In the long term, we would steer our nation toward fiscal responsibility and broad economic growth. Although Democrats have traditionally sought the upper hand on domestic issues, we now live in a post-9/11 world. If we want the American people to trust us to govern, we cannot take a dismissive or defeatist attitude toward issues of national security. . . Many Americans may be apprehensive about the president's national security strategy, but they understand that he has one, and that the Democrats don't."
Coming from a black man, Ford's challenge to the Democratic party is almost ominous: "I would also take a different approach politically. Our party has focused on turning out groups that vote reliably for our ticket, but it has failed to reach the majority of Americans who are independent or who do not vote at all. These disaffected Americans present an opportunity to any party willing to reach out to them. . . . I would bring new faces onto the leadership team. Many members, especially junior members, have long felt marginalized within the Democratic Caucus." Translation: take us for granted and we walk. And there are voters out there we can reach if we do. It's the McCain/Perot/Ventura card and the race card all in one, and it should scare the bejabbers out of anyone in the Democratic party who thinks that the agenda of the liberal elite can ascend to power unmolested.