Pelosi & Dowd: Two White Chicks Gabbing About Concentration Camps Over Brunch
Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

Nancy Pelosi sat down last week for an interview with Maureen Dowd, writer of dumb stuff for the New York Times. This is how it began.

Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump have a lot in common. Neither one drinks, yet they have family vineyards. They both love big bowls of ice cream.

Our father doesn't drink and is usually up for a trip to Baskin-Robbins. We don't have a vineyard, though. Maybe that's why he's not BFFs with the president and the speaker of the House. We get it: Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi are rich and white. Maybe Dowd should've focused on their major relevant difference: Trump runs concentration camps, and Nancy Pelosi doesn't.

The piece only gets worse. This is how Dowd described the June passage of an emergency spending bill last month for Donald Trump's baby jails.

"The Mighty Moderates," as The Times christened them, wanted to show that they weren't going to be pushed around by the liberals, who have so far gotten all the attention.

Eighteen "moderate" Democrats threatened to tank a House bill that had stronger protections for migrant children (e.g. "feed them"). Pelosi was forced to pass the Senate version (e.g. "bathe them if you have time"). The "attention-getting" liberals didn't want to rely on pinky swears from Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence that Trump will just ignore. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley voted against the bill. According to Dowd, Pelosi feels this made them "irrelevant" to the process.

PELOSI: All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn't have any following. They're four people and that's how many votes they got.

Ouch! Pelosi usually takes a more tactical "just win, baby" approach. The bill was going to pass anyway. Four members voicing their displeasure is probably a good thing. The caucus isn't a monolith. Ocasio-Cortez specifically said her public "whatever" opposed funding concentration camps, but she didn't blame other Democrats for their votes.

Dowd seems to think she's writing a Vanity Fair profile of Meryl Streep, who's starring as Pelosi in the upcoming No Wall For You, Magoo,but this is the actual speaker of the House and Dowd is obsessing over her breakfast: They had omelets someplace trendy in San Francisco. Dowd also brought Pelosi a small box of chocolates because she's a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

The trim speaker, wearing white pants and a purple cardigan to match her purple Manolo heels, stabbed her fork into one of my home fries.

Yes, Pelosi's not fat. The nation is secure. Thanks, Ms. Dowd, that's really important information, along with the revelation that Pelosi's a food poacher.

PELOSI: With all due respect, the press likes to make a story that is more about Democrats divided than the fact that Mitch McConnell doesn't care about the children... You would think that within a couple of days, 48 hours or so, of seeing that little child with her father, there would have been some challenge of conscience... But understand this: They don't care.

No, they don't. Rebecca, the number one Pelosi fan, was pissed:

Dowd noted that Pelosi bucked party elders in 1987 and declared publicly that she came to DC to fight AIDS. We respect the hell out of her for that admirable work. However, she might recall that back then Republicans still didn't care about suffering people who weren't them. Their lack of empathy has been a feature, not a bug, for a while.

The fracas over the border bill illustrates the treacherous nature of Pelosi's job. Even with all her remarkable skill, it is a herculean task to weave together her anarchic progressives and the moderates who helped flip the House by winning in districts where Trump won in 2016.

Why did Dowd choose the word "fracas" as if concentration camps are the setting of a common restoration comedy? She also described progressives as "anarchic," which means "lawless" or lacking "principles." Tlaib, Pressley, Illhan, and Ocasio-Cortez specifically are taking the very principled stand that we shouldn't torture children. They aren't members of an underground fight club.

Also, Democrats flipped 13 districts Trump won in 2016. Nine of those were ones Obama carried in 2012 so they aren't so red we need to abandon all liberal ideology to hold the House.

On top of that, many Democrats see Pelosi as the thin blue line — albeit in fiery orange and hot pink hues — standing between them and a lawless Trump.

WILL YOU STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW SHE DRESSES! We all have access to Google image search. She's fierce. We give her props. Try to focus on the baby jails.

While the president was squandering millions to prove his manliness by rolling out tanks and jets on the Fourth, Pelosi was holed up at her vineyard getaway in Napa with her family, eating Mexican food, rereading the Mueller report and preparing to unman the president with a thousand legal and legislative cuts.

Is Dowd trying to help Pelosi here? Because it's impossible for anyone to be "holed up" in a Napa "vineyard getaway." People bid on that weekend during a silent auction. Did Annette Bening and Joel Grey perform the Mueller Report for Pelosi with margarita breaks between acts? And "unman the president" is such a regressive, gendered expression it doesn't deserve comment. But it's still a comment Dowd has made hundreds or tens of thousands of times. It's really a thing for her, and apparently it never won't be.

Is the Fifth Avenue trust fund baby who loves to play victim actually goading the Democrats into impeaching him?

The answer is an obvious "no": Trump lacks the mental acuity to pull off Br'er Rabbit's "Don't Throw Me In The Briar Patch" gambit.

PELOSI: Oh, he'd rather not be impeached. But he sees a silver lining. And he wants to then say, "The Democrats impeached me but the Senate" — he won't say Republicans — "exonerated me." The thing is that, he every day practically self-impeaches by obstructing justice and ignoring the subpoenas.

Trump isn't "self-impeaching." That's not a thing. Stop trying to make "self-impeach" happen. Yes, he regularly obstructs justice. That's like a Tuesday for him. But unless the House impeaches him or the voters reject him next year, there's no actual consequence to his lawlessness. This particular Wonketter trusts that Pelosi knows her job and can count. We don't have the votes in the Senate to remove Trump. It's possible we don't even have the votes to impeach him or issue him a ticket for double parking. If a prosecutor knows they can't successfully convict a mobster because he's bought the judge and jury, there's no point in trying a case they're guaranteed to lose. But they should make it clear that the fix is in. The mobster isn't "self-indicting" when he continues whacking people.

Pelosi announced in a letter to her members on Wednesday that the House will hold the Trump administration in contempt on the census donnybrook.


This ain't Emma, Ms. Dowd. Trump flat-out admitted that he plans to move forward with using the Census as a "weapon against our democracy."

PELOSI: You can't impeach everybody.

It's only happened twice. The third was avoided because Richard Nixon resigned to spend more time with his recording devices.

PELOSI: People wanted Reagan impeached but that didn't happen.

PELOSI: O.K., they impeached Clinton for something so ridiculous — getting impeached for doing a dumb thing as a guy. Then they wanted to impeach Obama.

Obama broke no laws. Trump has. Clinton was impeached for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. The underlying offense was the “dumb thing" he did. But the GOP successfully maneuvered him into giving misleading testimony. That's true "self-impeachment." What about E. Jean Carroll's credible claims that the president raped her?

PELOSI: I respect the case she has but I don't see any role for Congress.

Rape is a crime.

PELOSI: How's [Trump] president? "Access Hollywood," porn stars, all the rest? So what else is new about him.

Rape is still a crime. You can't get inured to rape. It's not Madonna's cone bra period where critics wondered if she'd lost the ability to shock people. We're also going to get a little SJW for a moment, but the president's relationships with porn stars is the least of his flaws. We wouldn't care if Melania or Ivanka were porn stars. It's a real job, which is a step up for both of them. We do care that the president rapes women. Carroll should be testifying before Congress right now.

Dowd then goes on a neoliberal screed, claiming that Democrats “lurched so far left in the first debates, with bilingual pandering." That's an appalling remark. There are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US. Eating a corn dog in Iowa, which has a population of just over 3 million, is pandering. Dowd also claims Democrats went full commie with “talk about busing," “decriminalizing illegal border crossing, and abolishing private health care." She's ready for her Fox News close-up. She also can't manage to praise one woman without insulting another, specifically -- get your surprise face ready! -- Hillary Clinton.

Pelosi is womanly — often surrounded by her children and grandchildren — and yet she seems blithely unencumbered by insecurity about her gender. This is in marked contrast to Hillary Clinton, the only other woman who rose to these heights in American politics.

No, it is not. How the hell can Dowd claim to have insight into Clinton's supposed "insecurity about her gender"? This is an opinion piece, but it should stop short of mind reading.

Unlike Pelosi, who passionately fought the misbegotten Iraq war, Hillary enabled W.'s folly, afraid if she voted against it she would seem like a hippie chick. At the behest of Mark Penn, who said they don't call it the "father of the country" for nothing, Hillary ran emulating a man in 2008. Then she did a 180 and self-consciously ran as a woman in 2016, with a Katy Perry soundtrack and Lena Dunham guest spots, trying to lure back young women from Bernie Sanders.

This is the worst paragraph ever written by a human. Why is Dowd on a first name basis with the woman she's dragging? Clinton never helped herself to Dowd's home fries. They're not friends. We're not going to bother disputing every dumb thing here. We'll wait for when Dowd makes more sensible arguments, like whether John Lennon faked his death and is living with the Loch Ness monster.

[New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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