House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has insulted women far beyond the epithets or inanities of Rush Limbaugh or Todd Aiken. She played the gender card last week to exculpate her responsibility for the Democratic Party shellacking in the 2014 midterm elections. Most women do not concoct gender discrimination excuses for personal shortcomings.
Let’s hope Ms. Pelosi’s spectacle was not a gender card dress rehearsal for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to distract attention from her intellectually and philosophically vacuous political career. If there were any doubts on that latter score, Mrs. Clinton’s recent ultra-soporific and jejune memoir — “Hard Choices” — should have dispelled them.
But back to the former speaker of the House.
Last Thursday, Nancy Cordes of CBS News asked Ms. Pelosi whether she had contemplated “stepping down as the [minority] leader.”
The question was undisputatious. The questioner was a woman, not a misogynist. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, had confronted similar calls to resign after Republican electoral defeats in 2010 and 2012. As a manager or head coach of any professional sports team can testify, a dismal season immediately provokes fan calls demanding resignation.
The House Democratic leader, however, delivered a volcanic response worthy of Mount Vesuvius as it buried Pompey. As Dana Milbank recounted for The Washington Post, Ms. Pelosi barked: “What was the day when any of you said to Mitch McConnell when they lost the Senate three times in a row … ‘Aren’t you getting a little old, Mitch? Shouldn’t you step aside?’ It’s interesting that, as a woman, to see how many times that question is asked of a woman and how many times that question is never asked of Mitch McConnell.”
Ms. Pelosi’s forgetfulness about McConnell’s detractors did no credit to her memory. The gender discrimination she discerned was imaginery.
The House Democratic leader escalated her peevishness.
She whined: “I was never on the front of Time magazine even though I was the first woman [House speaker] — wasn’t that a curiosity? Then the Republicans win and [House Speaker John] Boehner’s on the front of Time magazine, Mitch McConnell wins, he’s on the front of Time magazine. … As a woman, it’s like, is there a message here?”
But Ms. Pelosi’s narcissistic tantrum was misplaced. She was answering a question from Ms. Cordes of CBS News, not Time magazine. (Ms. Pelosi omitted that Hillary Clinton has repeatedly been featured on the Time magazine cover.) Her fuming response gave credence to playwright William Congreve’s canard, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
All I can say is that Ms. Pelosi has lived a charmed life if appearing on the Time magazine cover is her only grievance. Get over it.
Instead of fretting over her celebrity ranking like the small-minded bigwigs in Mark Leibovich’s “This Town,” Ms. Pelosi should be paying more attention to her constitutional responsibilities.
In May 2006, then-Minority Leader Pelosi de facto voided the power of the House to impeach the president or vice president for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” i.e., crimes against the Constitution. She declared that “impeachment is off the table,” even if Democrats captured a House majority, which they did in November. Ms. Pelosi surrendered the impeachment power — which Benjamin Franklin praised at the Constitutional Convention as the civilized alternative to assassination to remove a tyrant — in hopes of enhancing the prospects of a Democratic president in 2008.
In abandoning the possibility of impeachment, Ms. Pelosi emboldened President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to greater lawlessness and usurpations of congressional prerogatives.
In 2002, Ms. Pelosi was briefed by the CIA about the waterboarding, i.e., torture, of Abu Zubaydah. CIA officer Jose Rodriguez in his memoir reports that Ms. Pelosi asked a number of questions during the briefing. Leon Panetta, a fellow Democrat and Californian, reports in “Worthy Fights” that CIA records show Ms. Pelosi was in fact briefed on waterboarding on Sept. 4, 2002. Yet she concealed the crime from her colleagues and the American people despite her constitutional shield against retaliation by the Speech or Debate Clause.
The nation would be far better off if Ms. Pelosi devoted more time to honoring her oath to defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution and less time worrying about the trappings of celebrity.
For more information about Bruce Fein, visit brucefeinlaw.