Friday, July 12, 2019

The Turn of the Pelosi Screw

Much like the paranoid governess in the Henry James novella, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to be melting down faster with every passing summer day.

I probably shouldn't even delicately ascribe her recent bizarre verbal attacks upon "The Squad" of four newly elected progressive women to run-of-the-mill derangement. Because since reading the Maureen Dowd column in Sunday's New York Times and other accounts, in which Pelosi characterizes both Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Donald Trump as harmless "glasses of water" I keep getting a mental picture of Pelosi as the Wicked Witch of the West, melting down into a sorry puddle after getting deservedly doused with that same glass of water.

Actually, the putrid puddle image that I can't get out of my head vies with the equally ugly picture that the Dowd column conjured up: the stiletto heel of Pelosi's expensively shod (Manolo purple pump, retail $995) right foot stomping on and grinding progressive policies into a pulp, while her weaker left appendage flirtatiously but ineffectually plays footsie with Donald Trump and the Republicans under the table.

That Pelosi is more attuned to the Republican side of the Duopoly, and that she despises progressive Democrats with every fiber of her being is also becoming more painfully obvious by the day. In fact, she is beginning to sound a lot like the authoritarian Trump himself, with her strident demands to her caucus for loyalty to party over loyalty to constituents and country.

As a carefully leaked, anonymously sourced piece in Politico described it,

Speaker Nancy Pelosi chided progressives in a closed-door meeting Wednesday, calling on them to address their intraparty grievances privately rather than blasting their centrist colleagues on Twitter. Pelos's comments, which were described as stern, came during the first full caucus meeting since a major blowup over emergency border funding last month between progressive and moderate lawmakers as well as a recent spat with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her freshman allies.
"So, again, you got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it," Pelosi told Democrats, according to a source in the room. "But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK."
Harrumph. This from the same politician who went to the New York Times and complained so peevishly and publicly about The Squad, and thought it would be O.K. and that her progressive targets would not in their own turn react publicly and very negatively to her clumsy gaslighting attempt.

Of course, this whole "Ballad of the Cat-fight Cafe" narrative was from the very beginning the joint project of the corporate Democratic Party and the Times. All Dowd had to do was pick up and expand upon the contrived propaganda narrative ("The Mighty Moderates Vs. AOC")  written the previous week by her colleague Julie Hirschfeld Davis, a piece which I critiqued here. This anti-progressive narrative was in its own turn a companion piece to the longer-running blockbuster series called "The Ruling Class Vs. Bernie Sanders," which is now on temporary hiatus thanks to his slight fall in the polls. But as soon as he becomes a clear threat or when he openly attacks Joe Biden, the Times will be back on the offensive. For the time being, it's the dangerously popular AOC who serves as the convenient proxy in the Class War of the rich vs. the rest of us.

But now there's a glitch in their offensive. AOC noticed and vocalized the inconvenient fact that the "Squad" which Pelosi denigrates is all comprised of women of color, and they have received death threats. The "race card" is being played in the Mighty Moderates vs. AOC game, and the Democrats and the corporate media are beginning to panic. There is a clear and present danger that the identity politics which the liberal class has long used as a diversionary tactic is in danger of collapse from the now racially charged intraparty angst. Without identity politics to divert attention from the corporate Democrats' lack of attention to the economic woes of the electorate, they have nothing.

It looks even worse for Madam Speaker and her "lieutenants." To prove his own devotion to the Game of Bipartisan Footsie in service to the rich, Donald Trump himself has gallantly come to Nancy Pelosi's defense in a cynical attempt to justify the GOP's own racist attacks on AOC and the other three women. "I'll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do. She is not a racist!" he told the media as he made preparations to rip apart up to 2,000 more immigrant families via ICE deportation raids this weekend.

So the personality politics-driven Family Feud Franchise which the Times itself instigated at the behest of Pelosi and the Democratic leadership is backfiring right in their faces. But rather than admit their own complicity, the same media outlets that over-hyped the Narrative all week are now criticizing their own story without taking responsibility for it. It apparently sprang fully formed from the ether without any assistance from them at all. 

The TrumPelosi Minuet

As the Atlantic now reports, the whole Pelosi-AOC Catfight Narrative was pretty much a fraud from the get-go, because the Democrats have always been united, and so enough with the Narrative already. It is certainly not the Media's fault, writes David A. Graham:

There’s no reason to blame the media for simply reporting shots that the two sides are taking at each other. Insofar as there’s a “Democrats in disarray” narrative in place, it’s because the Democrats are shouting at one another from the rooftops.
Yet the rhetorical sparring does obscure a broader Democratic unity. The border-funding vote aside, there’s barely any daylight between Democrats on matters actually before the House. The Squad has broken with Pelosi on just two votes so far, according to ProPublica’s tracker. The gap between the party’s moderate and left wings is relatively small, too. Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, have parted ways on just 13 percent of votes; Omar and Representative Max Rose, who’s more pragmatic than ideological, on 7 percent of votes.
They're trying to put the toothpaste that they themselves just squeezed out in big fat globs back into the tube.

They're trying to mop up the toxic Pelosi puddle and and wring it back into the glass and call it pure sparkling water.

But it's still sludge. And there's still a sharp, mean, nasty designer stiletto heel lurking just beneath the surface, ready to stomp and screw even mildly progressive policy ideas at a moment's notice.

Meanwhile, all that Nancy Pelosi can tell the two thousand terrorized immigrant families who are the targets of Trump's upcoming deportation sweep is to simply not answer their doors when the ICE troops come politely knocking, crowbars and guns at the ready.

She sounds like Nancy Reagan telling people to Just Say No to drugs at the very same time that her husband's CIA was filling poor neighborhoods with crack cocaine and millions of people started getting swept up and jailed in the Duopoly's racist war on drugs.

Meanwhile, the corporate media mostly ignored the large immigrant protest at Joe Biden's Philadelphia campaign headquarters on Wednesday, the very same day Pelosi was warning her caucus to shut up. Six people were arrested for staging a sit-in and demanding that the former vice president apologize for the Obama administration's record deportations of 3 million immigrants. Biden has thus far preferred not to, remaining behind locked doors at some undisclosed location.

How does the screw turn? Let us count the ways.

So forget about locking our doors. We need to show up at their doors, right where they hide and they cower, starting in the hallowed halls of Congress, and wherever centrist candidates set up shop.

**Update, 7/13: The protesters caught up with Biden in New Hampshire on Friday afternoon, when he discovered to his great chagrin that uttering the word "Barack" doesn't necessarily elicit cheers of adulation and/or moans of nostalgia. Literally stuck between the protesters and a river (also containing kayaking protesters) Biden had no choice but to mutter sorry for deporting millions of innocent people, not sorry for deporting a relative handful of people with felony records. The confrontation pointed to one of the few positive aspects of this interminable campaign season - it has greatly extended the period of time in which regular people are allowed to afflict the office-seeking powerful and comfortable.


Jay–Ottawa said...

Sorry to point this out, but Nancy Pelosi is right. A party is no party worth calling a party if it is divided. Can't have that going into 2020. I understand perfectly why she must crack the whip.

I have been given an advance copy of a speech NP will be making to all congressional representatives of her party. She is signalling to the insignificantly few troublemakers within her ranks to be loyal or to walk.

She has borrowed liberally from Lincoln's speeches:

"A House divided against itself cannot stand. I believe the Democratic Party cannot endure, permanently half plutocratic and half progressive. I do not expect the Democratic Party to be dissolved—I do not expect the House to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

"The Democratic Party will get back to being all for the rich, or, in the alternative, all for the poor and working class over my dead body. Either those complainers about the plutocracy will arrest the further spread of the plutocracy, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction; or the advocates of the rich, like me, will push plutocracy further forward, till it shall become alike controlling in all the states and congressional districts, East Coast, West Coast and Flyover Country.

"Total unity is all that the plutocracy now lacks for being supreme in all congressional districts, Republican or Democratic. Welcome, or unwelcome, 100% Uniparty union is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political dynasty shall be met and overthrown by a few brown and black upstarts, mostly female, which happening is most unlikely as long as I am in charge of insuring that the complaints of the "Squad" and other dubious caucuses are heard no more in the Party or anywhere else in our great land.

"Lefties and hopefuls may now be lying down pleasantly dreaming that the people of the progressive faction are on the verge of making the country free; but the people shall awake to the reality that, thanks to a Democratic Party united (and in cooperation with our political enemies in the Republican Party), the whole damn country will have been made slaves of the plutocracy, by the plutocracy and for the plutocracy."

gregory said...

Great piece of snark, Jay--Ottawa.

The inertia that resulted from Democratic successes of fifty years past is now mistaken as good governance.

Procopius said...

Jay-Ottowa There's a difference between working with colleagues you disagree with to get the things the two of you do agree on, and trying to get that person replaced by somebody you do agree with. The Democrats have always been a coalition of ill-fitting parts. When I was a kid the Southern Democrats were openly racist. Those guys all moved to the Republican Party because they would not accept core Democratic values. In my opinion, the Centrist/New Democrats/Blue Dogs/Third Way/Democratic Leadership Council have been trying to move the party to the right and to literally destroy the New Deal since 1983. They are now completely in control of the DNC and the DCCC, and use money from those organization to actively campaign against anybody to the left of Joe Manchin.

Erik Roth said...

“… No matter what he thought about, he always returned to these same questions which he could not solve and yet could not cease to ask himself. It was as if the thread of the chief screw which held his life together were stripped, so that the screw could not get in or out, but went on turning uselessly in the same place.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, "War and Peace"

voice-in-wilderness said...

I increasingly believe that the Democrats will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the 2020 presidential election. I come to this saturnine conclusion for a mix of reasons:

1. Trump has a lock on 40% or more of the voters and he is extremely skilled at playing to them.

2. The GOP are very good at voter suppression -- and getting better.

3. The GOP in Congress see themselves not as an independent branch of government, but as Trump's agents.

4. Not enough Americans will vote for a woman whom they see as too pushy, too uppity, too threatening. Such as Elizabeth Warren.

5. The dozens of current presidential candidates speak to real issues, but are in almost all cases they are too extreme in their solutions to attract needed voters. For example, instead of mass forgiveness of college debt, they should push for making it available at the lowest possible rates and allow for bankruptcy.

6. Worst of all, we are being forced to face the fact that collectively Americans are not the peaceful, egalitarian, Constitution-loving people that our national myths say we are.

Jay–Ottawa said...

@ Procopius

Compared to the Dems of LBJ & FDR,
Most of today's Dems Bluedogs are.

@ Erik

So few screwers stripping the threads of so many screwees.

@ voice

Your preface as well as 1 through 4 and 6 sound right. Alas, 5 takes us right back to the original starting point for college loans, i. e., through banks with interest creep, much the way healthcare has to pass though the sieve of private insurance companies before it ever reaches us.