Post Paul Krugman, the NYT versus Nancy Pelosi

I did not pause for a second when writing that title above.

Because yesterday, after Paul Krugman’s clear, ringing hurrah for Nancy Pelosi, the Times decided to cover her in an article written by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, telling titled “Pelosi, Under Threat in Her Own Party, Says She’s Building Bridges to New Leaders.”

I guess neither Burns nor Martin read Krugman. Nor did a lot of the readers whose comments (mostly from men, dare I say) were along the lines of “she’s been there too long, she’s got to step aside.”

Let’s put aside whatever problems the Times has with brilliant women politicians. Yeah. Let’s put that aside.

I’m going to apply my How I Learned the Facts of Life skills to dissect this article which offers a whole heap of misleading language — starting with “Under Threat in Her Own Party.” (“Threat“? Over-weighted word. And she’s been made a literal demon by the GOP, not her own party.)

Nancy Pelosi is girding[a war word, probably out of “Game of Thrones,” but certainly not part of democratic politics] for a mortal challenge [oh, come on, guys! this isn’t a gladiator fight to the death] to her leadership of the Democratic Party after the November elections or even sooner, and in a signal of reassurance to anxious lawmakers says that she is deliberately building a “bridge” to a new generation of party leaders.

It would be helpful if Burns and Martin mentioned — just a hint, mind — that a “new generation of party leaders” have to be elected in elections. By their districts. Every two years.

If party leaders build bridges (and that’s a nonsensical way of describing how members of the House get to know and evaluate each other), it can only be to members whose election results indicate they’ll be around for more than two years.

In perhaps the most serious test of her 15-year grip on the House Democratic caucus, Ms. Pelosi is facing unrest from older lawmakers critical of her style, younger Democrats demanding generational change and candidates across the party who have sought to inoculate themselves against Republican attacks by distancing themselves from her.

“Grip”? She was elected as Speaker by the majority in the House Democratic caucus. The word “grip” suggests a cartoony hold on, what — how many Democrats in the House? — gives a picture of a evil woman with claws sunk into the flesh of the caucus. Were Burns and Martin thinking about Angelina Jolie in one of her witch roles, brandishing long, poison-tipped fingernails?

“Generational change:” they may be demanding it but until they’ve been in the House long enough to understand how it operates and how a party manages itself, especially in the face of a GOP majority, what does that mean? That a younger generation speaker will, by virtue only of age, be effective?

Democrats who seek to “inoculate themselves against Republican attacks” are politicking in mixed districts, as was Conor Lamb. (And the Times doesn’t bother to quote Pelosi’s response when Lamb, pre-election, said he wouldn’t support Pelosi as Speaker: she said she didn’t mind him invoking her name that way. “Just win, baby, win,” she said.)

One of Ms. Pelosi’s deputies, Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said in an interview that he would seek the speakership if she struggles to amass the required 218 votes after November — an extraordinary acknowledgment of her vulnerability given the culture of deference in Washington.

Not only isn’t it “extraordinary,” it’s sensible. Clyburn is merely stating a particular fact: if Pelosi doesn’t get those votes, someone has to run for the speakership and he’s experienced. “Culture of deference”? Not for Pelosi, apparently. The only culture of deference I’ve observed is the GOP’s worship of McConnell and Trump. The Democratic Party is notoriously undeferential.

Then the Times allowed Pelosi to speak for herself:

Ms. Pelosi remains intent on reclaiming the speakership, but in an interview on Wednesday she also acknowledged a handover of power was coming eventually, and she encouraged would-be successors to prove their political mettle. Any aspiring party leader, she said, must demonstrate that “they do have a following, that they’ve shown a vision for the country,” as well as the necessary fund-raising prowess.

“If people want to be the bridge that I’m building toward, they have to show what’s on the other side of the bridge,” she said, stressing that she saw it as her role “to open doors, to build bridges, but there has to be another side to the bridge.”

And hey yeah — she’s absolutely right: they “must demonstrate that ‘they do have a following, that they’ve shown a vision for the country'”…

And, I add, Pelosi’s skills to manage a political party in Congress.


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