Nancy Pelosi-- The Tragic Decline

There was a time that being pro-Choice, for racial equality and LGBT equality and for gun control meant you were a progressive. That's a long long time ago and progressivism has evolved. To credibly call yourself progressive, you still need to be for all those things but you now have to be against big money in politics, for universal healthcare (preferably via Medicare-for-All), for dealing effectively with the Climate Crisis (preferably via the Green New Deal), for a living wage, against a free rein for Wall Street and for big corporations... In the old days, Pelosi (unlike Biden) was a progressive. No, really, she was; I shit you not. But as the movement went in one direction... she basically headed off in the other direction. She doesn't truly support-- except occasionally with platitudes-- any progressive goals that she didn't support before she left the CPC to pursue a party leadership position, first as Minority Leader and then as Speaker.

In very recent years, as her grasp on abstracts has begun to noticeably slip, she's compensated with a kind of imperious entitlement that was far less apparent during her first round as Speaker. This week, for example, she told the media "I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do." That's right... she and Trump both. And they're both screwing up the country royally. They both have to go.

This week Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris reported for Politico on her closed-door meeting with the Democratic House caucus where she scolded progressives as as much as told them they're not as important as conservatives. "Pelosi’s comments, which were described as stern," they wrote, "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-NY) 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."

Democrats in the room said they interpreted that remark, in part, as a shot at Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who called moderate Democrats members of the “Child Abuse Caucus” in a tweet over their support for the Senate’s version of the emergency humanitarian package.

...Speaking behind closed-doors Wednesday morning, Pelosi also gave an emphatic defense of the moderates in the caucus, according to multiple sources, telling the room that they’re critical to holding the House majority. Pelosi told Democrats not to make the Blue Dog Coalition their targets, but criticize her publicly if they need to go after someone.

“I’m here to help the children when it’s easy and when it’s hard. Some of you are here to make a beautiful pâté but we’re making sausage most of the time,” Pelosi told the caucus.

The California Democrat added that when her members target her, it helps fundraising, eliciting a big laugh inside the room.

“We are a family, and every family has its moments,” the speaker said.

Pelosi also indirectly criticized Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, according to Democrats in the room, as she told members to tell their staffers to “think twice” before they tweet.

Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, went after Pelosi in a series of tweets over the weekend, criticizing everything from her comments on the squad to her stance against impeachment. Chakrabarti also tweeted scathing criticism of the Blue Dogs, calling them the "New Southern Democrats."

"They certainly seem hell bent to do black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s," Chakrabarti wrote on Twitter before deleting the post.

Her remarks also come after Pelosi dismissed Ocasio-Cortez and the other members of the progressive “squad” in an interview with the New York Times over the weekend.

Pelosi questioned the group's actual influence, given that its members were the only four Democrats who opposed the House’s original humanitarian package. Ocasio-Cortez and the other progressives-- Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts-- quickly fired back, criticizing Pelosi’s remarks in a series of tweets.

Ocasio-Cortez didn’t address Pelosi’s speech as she left the caucus meeting, instead talking about the annual defense authorization bill that will be on the House floor this week.

But Omar defended her allies, saying she and other Democrats can vote however they want.

“I hope that leadership understands their role and understands what our role is,” Omar said.

Some of the moderates who felt targeted by Pocan’s tweet also spoke up in the caucus meeting, including Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who belongs to the Problem Solvers Caucus that Pocan derided as child abusers. [She is also a vehemently anti-progressive Blue Dog who was one of the first freshmen to earn an "F" rating from ProgressivePunch and now has a horrifying 45.83 crucial vote score, indicating she isn't even really a Democrat at all.]

As a former federal law enforcement agent who focused on child trafficking, Spanberger said she was horrified that a fellow Democrat would compare members of his own party to child abusers, according to multiple people in the room. [Hard for garbage members like Spanberger to look in the mirror and realize what they are.]

Speaking to reporters later Wednesday, Pocan did not back away from his criticism of the bipartisan [right-wing members from both parties; not what bipartisan really means] Problem Solvers Caucus, which had taken credit for helping scrap the House’s more liberal version of a humanitarian border package last month.

Problem Solvers Caucus: Gottheimer (Blue Dog), Trump (Nazi), Reed (R)

“I know there are some people in the Problem Solvers Caucus that feel a little stung, because they got yelled at last weekend by constituents,” Pocan said, referring to recent town hall meetings held by moderates [wrong word, as usual-- conservatives are NOT moderates; they are conservatives] in their districts. “I understand why they’re upset, but they should be upset, because they got in trouble last week.”

Pelosi’s speech is part of an effort by Democratic leaders to knit the party back together after the bitter border funding fight last month.

Shortly before the July Fourth recess, moderate Democrats moved to block further consideration of the House border bill-- which had additional protections for migrant children-- after it became clear the GOP-controlled Senate would not take it up.

Pelosi bowed to centrists and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), agreeing to put the Senate bill on the floor and leaving progressives fuming.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also delivered a forceful speech on Wednesday preaching unity within the caucus and urging members to speak directly with each other rather than publicly-- a sentiment that some lawmakers privately mused could also have been directed at Pelosi after her critique of the caucus' freshman firebrands. [Hoyer has a serious primary challenge.]

"If we have problems with each other, we ought to address each other," Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) said of Hoyer's message. [Yarmuth has a serious primary challenge.]

After Pelosi and Hoyer's remarks, another moderate, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), spoke up to complain that lawmakers shouldn't attack each other unless they're paying party dues. [Cuellar has a serious primary challenge.]

"If somebody has a problem, pay your dues before you start attacking other Democrats," according to a source in the room.

Some progressive members had privately discussed not paying dues to the caucus' fundraising arm earlier this year after officials announced contentious new policies that made it tougher for primary challengers to attract talented consultants.

"Privately discussed"-- but, par for the course, not acted on. Yesterday Rachel Bade and Mike DeBonis reported for the Washington Post how disrespectful Pelosi has become towards outspoken freshmen. As she increasingly loses her grasp and becomes more and more dependent on her aides, she has become more and more of a bully-- and finds it easy to express that side of her nature towards the freshmen she is so obviously jealous of: AOC (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ayanna Pressley (MA). "The four," wrote Bade and DeBonis,"are struggling with the speaker’s moves to isolate them in recent weeks, according to interviews with the lawmakers, congressional aides and allies. Pelosi has made at least half a dozen remarks dismissing the group or their far-left proposals on the environment and health care. More recently she scorned their lonely opposition to the party’s emergency border bill last month." This drives Pelosi into a frenzy of uncontrollable recriminations, like some kind of wicked witch in Cinderella:

@AOC- 4.7 million Twitter followers
@SpeakerPelosi- 2.67 million Twitter followers
@LeaderHoyer- 116K Twitter followers

Goal Thermometer"The speaker’s allies," wrote Bade and DeBonis, "say concerns about the next election is driving her moves to isolate these four women. “Sometimes a leader’s got to take positions to keep the team [united],” said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY). “She knows what got us here and what’s going to keep us here.” Meeks is a corrupt bucket of slime who runs the Queens County Democratic Party machine-- ever since AOC defeated Joe Crowley, the last boss of the Queens County Democratic Party machine. Meeks is one of the most corrupt of the New Dems and his only reason for being in Congress is to enrich himself. He has a strong progressive primary opponent this cycle, Shaniyat Chowdhury. Please consider contributing to him-- and to the other progressives Pelosi and Cheri Bustos' DCCC are trying to undercut-- by clicking on the Blue America Primary A Blue Dog 2030 thermometer on the right. And. by the way, this is the iconic photograph of Pelosi's "ally," Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, disgracefully a member of the House Financial Services Committee who would have been removed long ago if Pelosi really gave a damn about ethics, which to her, is nothing but a cudgel to beat Republicans over the head with.

“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post. “But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”

The four women are trying to figure out how to respond, texting one another and weighing whether to confront Pelosi to ask her to stop. But for now, they are focused on their congressional duties, even as they defend their votes in the House that have drawn Pelosi’s ire.

“Thank God my mother gave me broad shoulders and a strong back. I can handle it. I’m not worried about me,” said Pressley, who called Pelosi’s comments “demoralizing.” “I am worried about the signal that it sends to people I speak to and for, who sent me here with a mandate, and how it affects them.”

The tensions underscore the political and generational divide between the most powerful woman in American politics, who has led House Democrats for more than 16 years, and the new band of liberals clamoring for change and trying to push the party left. Pelosi has spent more than 30 years perfecting an inside game to secure wins for her party, most notably the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The four freshmen lawmakers, by contrast, have built a massive online following and leveraged their power on the outside, including in the 2020 presidential race.

Their ability to work together-- or refusal to-- will have major implications for Democrats as they seek to oust President Trump and retain their majority in next year’s election. Pelosi "knows" that the fate of her majority rests with the moderate Democrats who captured Republican-held seats in last year’s midterm elections.

“A majority is a fragile thing,” she said, according to two people present for the remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting, adding that members should show “some level of respect and sensitivity” to more moderate colleagues: “You make me the target, but don’t make our [moderates] the target in all of this, because we have important fish to fry.”

...Pelosi suggested to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in an opinion piece published Saturday that “the Squad” had a limited following inside the House. She specifically pointed to the example of the House-passed Democratic border bill in late June, which the group opposed.

“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said in the New York Times interview. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

Several in the caucus were uncomfortable with Pelosi’s comments. Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders are expected to talk to Pelosi about her comments, according to two officials familiar with the plan. Other women of color in the House have similarly expressed concerns.

“I can’t tell the speaker to apologize, but I was taken aback by it. Because we’re all here to work together,” said Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), the first black woman to represent her state in Congress.

Notably, Hayes, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar appeared together with Pelosi smiling on the cover of Rolling Stone in a photo taken in January.

While some of the four enjoy more diplomatic relationships with Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez’s relationship with the speaker has been chilly from the start. After she upset Rep. Joseph Crowley (NY) in the Democratic primary, Pelosi moved to immediately downplay her victory, saying it was a one-off event.

Still, Pelosi tried to create a bridge with the New Yorker: During their first face-to-face meeting just before the midterm elections, Pelosi spent nearly two hours trying to convince the liberal that she was just like her, touting her background. It was around that time that Ocasio-Cortez agreed to not only back Pelosi as speaker but also vocally defend her against rebels trying to keep her from the gavel.

Now, half a year later, virtually all communication between the two women has ceased. The two have not spoken one-on-one since February when Ocasio- Cortez declined Pelosi’s personal request that she join her select committee on climate change, according to individuals who know both lawmakers.

Just days after, during a private Progressive Caucus meeting, Pelosi singled out Ocasio-Cortez in front of her colleagues, calling her out for rejecting the select committee offer. Ocasio-Cortez had publicly criticized leadership for refusing to give the committee the power to directly draft legislation.

Since then, Pelosi has made several dismissive remarks about Ocasio-Cortez, calling her Green New Deal “the Green Dream or whatever,” and suggesting that a “glass of water” running as a Democrat could win in districts as liberal as hers.

“The third and fourth time [she insulted me], it was like, ‘This is unnecessary, but I’m not going to pick a fight over it. Whatever, I’ll be the punching bag if that’s what they want me to be,’ ” Ocasio-Cortez said. But now people are telling the freshman to talk to Pelosi. She doesn’t want to, however.

“There hasn’t really been a relationship, to be frank,” she said. “It’s difficult.”

Omar, according to people close to her, has been similarly disappointed. The  lawmaker from Minnesota looks up to Pelosi and has enjoyed a positive relationship with the speaker, despite her criticisms of Israel that caused a major stir in the party. Even then, however, Pelosi gave Omar a heads-up before chiding her publicly.

In one of her first conversations with Pelosi after she won her primary, Omar told Pelosi that she couldn’t vote on the floor because of a headwear ban in the House. Pelosi promised to change the rules so she could wear her hijab in the Capitol.

For Tlaib, Pelosi’s latest comment amounted to a mixed message-- one that seemed to contradict the advice Pelosi gave in a meeting early in her tenure. “Represent your district,” Tlaib recalled Pelosi telling her. “And that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Hours after her primary win in August, Tlaib ruffled feathers by saying in a CNN interview that she would “probably not” support Pelosi for speaker. But Pelosi, directly and through intermediaries, worked through the ensuing months to keep her mind open, and Tlaib ultimately voted for her.

Tlaib then won a seat on the Financial Services Committee, a plum assignment for a freshman in a safely Democratic district. And even as she garnered outsize media attention, Pelosi appeared to have her back: When Tlaib was filmed telling a crowd of supporters in vulgar terms that lawmakers would impeach President Trump, Pelosi delivered only faint public criticism.

“Whatever is she saying is not going to impact my work,” Tlaib said of Pelosi’s comments over the weekend. “I’m going to continue to introduce legislation and policy.”

Yet some lawmakers and aides believe Pelosi’s treatment of the group is having a quiet effect on them. Many activists thought the group would band together to form a type of Freedom Caucus to deliver wins for the left, but they haven’t done so and appear almost on the defensive when Pelosi criticizes them.

They also have not tried to whip votes against a major leadership priority such as the border bill, nor muscled House support for impeachment, an idea Pelosi rejects. And they have declined to call Pelosi out by name as she sidelines liberal policy priorities such as Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal, dismissing them publicly as “enthusiasms” and “exuberances” rather than viable policy prescriptions.

“She chooses her words carefully. She does not misspeak,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), a close friend of Pelosi. “There’s a big difference between being an advocate and being a legislator.”

Asked about why she hasn’t confronted Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez said she wasn’t sure what to do.

“I do find it a little curious that leadership doesn’t want us to try to have any sort of conversation about even messaging-- but we’re just freshmen, right?” she said.

I spoke with the chief of staff of one of Pelosi's top lieutenants this morning who told me, strictly off the record, that the chance that Pelosi could win another term as Speaker-- if she's foolish enough to try for it-- is "exactly zero... She's not fit to lead the party any longer. Everyone knows that but her. Members don't want to talk about it but she's more of a detriment than anything else... If she really understood what she's done to the party she would retire as soon as she could without losing even more face than she already has... As you wrote last week, she's turned her beautiful legacy into a pile of crap."

Down With Tyranny

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