Friday, May 15, 2009
Personal Asides: Pelosi Running Speakership into Real Danger by Calling the CIA a Liar...Toddler Will Play Race Cardand How!
House Speaker Nancy Pelosis news conference and assault on the CIA yesterday could have national repercussions and disastrous ones for the Democrats. So bad was her performance that even her supporters were aghast. The low-point was that after the conference when reporters were congregating outside her office door conferring with her staff, Speaker Pelosi opened the door and said: Dont you guys have anything to do? Grrrr.
Even now thanks to the compliant, hugely pro-liberal mainstream media, few people realize how dangerous she is to the Democratic party with her continued charge that the CIA lied to her about water-boarding and that the agencies lied to the Congress all the time. Everyone in Washington legislative leadership knows you dont go blasting the CIA which is as vicious an enemy to have as the IRS.
Her war with the CIA could lead to her possible dumping by the Democratic caucus. And heres why.
Most think rightly that her adherence to her line that the CIA lied to her is just a political stratagem to avoid embarrassmentbut right as this is, few know the CIAs ability to ruin a congressional figure by the knack of selective leaking. And the fact that Pelosi is second in line for the presidency could well become a danger to the Democratic party. As a former foreign service officer during part of the Nixon years, I can tell you that one can oppose the CIA but if anyone says the agency has lied, its a major deal.
Lets review the bidding.
It starts out with this incontrovertible truth: Nancy Patricia DAlesandro Pelosi, 69, one of the richest members of Congress, is a hot-tempered Italian flibberty-gibbet and a 14 carat flake who doesnt know the score, doesnt know the issues but hates-hates-hates very well.
In the early days of the war on terror, Pelosi was ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence committee (run by Republican Porter Goss who ultimately became CIA director). In those years everybody Democrats and Republicans was concerned about a recurrence of terrorist attacks and the agency briefed key legislative leaders on plans to prevent these attacks by outlining how they could get captured terrorists to talk. Including water-boarding.
The briefing sessions by the CIA were held for key congressional leaders beginning in the fall of 2002. They were non-controversial then because Democrats along with Republicans wanted to avoid looking soft on terrorists. With few exceptions, those who attended the meetings say the CIA was above-board about water-boarding. Those who maintain the agency wasnt are very-very weak about it and are doing so likely to spare Pelosi disaster: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and ex-Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.)
When Obama blistered torture under the Republicans and Pelosi followed suit, the House Republican leadership ignited the issue by saying she was complicit because she had heard about the water-boarding and had not protested. The agency itself leaked documents from the briefings showing that Pelosi attended a session on Sept. 2, 2002 along with Goss one of 40 such briefings for members of Congress and that the specific briefing Pelosi attended was on enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah and a description of the particular EITs that had been employed. The leak was damning in that it all but showed Pelosi is a liar. The document is in the form of a chart outlining 13 such briefings attended by Democrats as well as Republicans, including Rockefeller and Graham.
The consensus is that Pelosi and others were almost certainly given thorough briefings by the agency including facts on water-boarding for the express purpose that CIA always wants to cover its backside with the Congress. As one who has dealt with the CIA as a staffer with a House ranking member on Foreign Affairs and later as a foreign service officer and who in that capacity attended such briefings I can tell you that it would not have been in the agencys interest to withhold that information for fear of a terrible backlash that could jeopardize its congressional funding.
And it is ALSO a certainty that the CIA would NOT have told Goss and 38 others one thing about water-boarding and withheld the information from Pelosi. In fact, Pelosi took to the House floor to congratulate Goss on the fair way in which he ran the committee and to laud the CIA for doing its job admirably. If Pelosi was as opposed to water-boarding then as she is now, she could easily as a leader of Congress raised the issue and threatened (along with others) to hold back the agency funding.
She did none of these things. In fact she praised the agency. That was then. But as 2008 neared, it was to the Democrats advantage to stir up its left-wing base by howling at the supposed abrogation of human rights by the evil Bush administration.
Thus in 2008, with 7-1/2 years of safety from terrorist attacks the Dems as a party and Pelosi as a leader fortified by the Left moved to the presidential elections by seizing the liberal nettle and capitalizing on liberal sensitivities for so-called human rights by criticizing the Bush CIA. Pelosi herself said yesterday that she was thinking about the political ramifications of capturing control of Congress in 2008. This was seen as a sound political strategy, favored by the partys left base and by numerous editorial boards.
With the election of Barack Obama there came his decision to placate the partys leftward base by denouncing water-boarding and calling it torture. It is all part of a plan to demonize George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for the future: something the Dems want sorely to do (everywhere he went overseas a few weeks ago, Obama referred to the mess he inherited et al.). Back home here, he called water-boarding torture. Then there came the calls for a Truth Commission in the Congress which Pelosi favors to put the CIA on the griddle and fry the truth out of them, blackening the names of Bush and Cheney forevermore as devious mis-users of the CIA for their own purposes.
Now the CIA was never pro-Bush or pro-Cheney since the Iraq war began because it has taken the hit about not giving adequate intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction but a Truth Commission along the lines the Dems want to structure it would be dagger aimed at the agencys heart.
Pelosi joyfully hopped aboard calling for a Truth Commission. Republicans countered with the disclosure that she is a hypocrite, that she was briefed along with other leaders in Congress on water-boarding and by not complaining about water-boarding was complicit in what she now calls torture.
Pelosi countered in April with a dramatic news conference in which she insisted she was NOT told that water-boarding was going on all but alleging the CIA had lied to her (which was denied by Republicans). This is a direct harpoon aimed at the heart of the CIA so it retaliated with leaked information that she WAS told. Republicans who were also briefed added their fire, saying they were told about water-boarding.
Yesterday Pelosi countered with one of the most inept news conferences held by a top public figure that I have seen since Ive been aware of politics worse in a way than Richard Nixons you wont have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore. At least Nixon gave it to the media straight from the shoulder and stalked out. She stumbled, stuttered, lost her place in referring to her prepared statement, contradicted her statement and ended up hugely embarrassing herself, saying that she was told by a staffer that the CIA had the ability to water-board but not that it was water-boarding. She inadvertently raised the possibility that is incredible: that conceivably the CIA told her one story and the remainder of the congress another: which would be foolhardy for the agency to do so.
Terrible p. r. for Pelosi, yes. But heres where possible danger to her survival as Speaker comes in.
Yesterday by reiterating her call for a Truth Commission, she placed directly into the Republicans hands. This is a damnably foolish strategy because if one is held, Republicans are going to demand to put Pelosi under oath. There is very little chance that she can prove she is telling the truth. If this follows, lying under oath is toxic for an elected official: look what it did to a hitherto popular president, Bill Clinton. It got him impeached.
Thus at the very time when the Obama administration wants to keep the focus on legislation it wants to pass, Pelosi is helping the Republicans by demanding a Truth Commission that can very likely find her lying under oath and resulting in forcing her to resign...following Newt Gingrich who the first dumping since Newt Gingrich who lost favor with his party after a disastrous loss of GOP seats in 1998 where his popularity stood at 28% (he resigned Jan. 3, 1999) and Jim Wright [D-Texas], who was forced to resign on June 30, 1989 after a House Ethics committee voted he was complicit in financial details concerning a book he had written and his wifes employment.
It all verifies the bad judgment made by Rahm Emanuel when he was offered the post of chief of staff under Obama but justifies the misgivings he had when he took the post.
He wanted the job because of its potential of enormous power but he why didnt he look around the House and see Pelosi at 69, the majority leader Stony Hoyer, 70 (second ranking Democrat) and the House Dem Whip Jim Clyburn (S.C.) 70 (third ranking)? Emanuel at 50 was the fourth ranking as chairman of the House Democratic caucusand a logical successor from many standpoints. He has a lock on money, principally what is indecorously called Jewish Money on the Hill. More than the money, he is regarded by liberal Jews of the U. S. as their guy also able to romance the more militant pro-Israel types. And he is devilishly smart and for all his eruptions the one administration figure who has a secure touch with the Israelis including 86-year-old President Shimon Peres who is a dovebut also as one who militant young Rahm who was (depending on whom you talk to) as a de-facto soldier dodging Scud missiles in the 1991 bombing of Israel by Iraq or as a stretcher-bearer he has enormous stature with the Jews. Far more so than does Hillary Clinton.
It was a terrible choice to make much tougher than trying to decide whom he favored for the presidency, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama (since Obama was from Illinois it was a no-brainer: Obama). But by moving out of the House, Emanuel short-circuited his career. He knows it now. It was a great mistake for him a terrible mistake: and unlike the astute Emanuel to have made. Chief of staff is a powerful post but its not a growth job like Speaker of the House for Chrissake. For proof, who were George W. Bushs chiefs of staff? Joshua Bolten and Andrew Card. Know them? Where are they today? Who are the other chiefs of staffs under Bill Clinton? John Podesta Erskine Bowles who worked for Carter? Where are they now? On and on. God, the more he thinks of it the more he KNOWS he made a stupid mistake in not staying in the House. Hed be the logical one RIGHT at age 50 to become Pelosis successor and after that the first Jewish president. What the hell happened to his reasoning power?
Oh well calm down. boy. You can still turn it around.
What Rahm has to do is to cool the uproar downor his boss program will be tied up in knots as Eisenhowers was during the Army-McCarthy hearings. He has to: (a) sit down with Leon Panetta (ah, theres a former White House chief of staff whos found something useful to do, heading the CIA: big deal) and try to work something out remembering that the CIA underbelly which really runs the joint doesnt value Panetta in the slightest (b) cool down Pelosi who is a hot-blooded Italian woman in a rage and also very unstable since she knows shes boxed herself in but doesnt want to apologize her way out of it (c) soothe the important Left base that wants the Truth Commission to eviscerate Bush and Cheney alive (d) placate Hoyer who hates Pelosi, blames her (rightly) for creating the mess and figures that if she is dumped, hell be Speaker
(E) Cuddle Rep. Jane Harmon (D-Calif.), rich, Jewish and like Rahm close to Israel and who hates Pelosi and who Pelosi hates in return but who has far more smarts than Pelosi and knows the intelligence community inside out. She gives lip-service to Pelosi and will make an effort to substantiate what Pelosi says to save her neck but Harmond like nothing better than to see her arch-enemy go out the door. But he has to convince Harmon its in her interest to help the crazy Italian now.
And when HE has time and imagining he still has the burning ambition of the old Rahm I used to know 20 years ago he should plot about how to get the hell out of this chief of staff job and get back in the House in another Illinois district by the time the old-timersPelosi, Hoyer, Clayburnstart turning officially senile: Pelosi sounds like she already started. Hell have to work it so the legislature gives him a district (likely some part of the North Shore where he was reared) to run from so as a freshmanbut still weathered and savvyhe can slip back to his old digs and start edging those tottering seniors out the door.
Todd Stroger has a problem ah but theres only one way outand hes figured out the way. The Daleys and everyone else in the white Democratic party plus some acquiescent blacks want him to opt out of running for reelection as president of the Cook county board. Well, the way the Toddler looks at it, why the hell should he? The way to stay in is to play the race card the way few have played it running against the white bosses and their Tom surrogates who want him out, as a kind of martyr building a rapport with poor blacks who know what it is to run into troubles with the tax man fomenting a beautiful conspiracy surrounding Forrest Claypoolthe white, southern Illinois WASPwho wants to take over pointing out that time was when Illinois had a black U. S. Senator but now blacks are downgraded in powerful offices, not window-dressing offices (likely only Jesse White will survive unless he, Todd, makes it).
Time was when Cook county had a black county board president but theyre now after him that all Toni Preckwinkle is, is a refined black lady who sleeps white (her husband, Zeus, is Caucasian) that she has a lot of mileage on her vis-à-vis Tony Rezko. And she and Larry Rogers are put into the mix to cut up the black vote and give the nomination to Claypool. And the white-dominated media is for Claypool and agrees with the Daleys that Todd must go. The plan is to replace Burris with either that semi-crooked Alexi Giannoulias or goo-goo white multi-millionaire Chris Kennedy. And Forrest Claypool for president. Well, the hell with them.
Thats what The Toddler has figured out he must do. And as of now hes prepared to do it.