Jewish World Review Feb. 4, 2005 / 25 Shevat, 5765
Nancy Pelosi, Partisan Hack
I write speeches for a living. The typical speech contains at least a little substance-free rah-rah rhetoric. I have heard (and some would say written) entire speeches built on rah-rah rhetoric. But I have never heard a speech so dependent on it, deployed by someone more important, on a more important occasion, than the State of the Union response from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Check this out:
"Throughout our nation's history, hope and optimism have defined the American spirit. With pride and determination, every generation has passed on a stronger America than the one it inherited. Our greatest responsibility is to leave our children a world that is safer and more secure."
What an opening! A greeting card contains more genuine sentiment than that hoary old language. I can't imagine any self-respecting Washington speechwriter, Democrat or Republican, who would turn in such meaningless tripe. Yet one did.
"Any discussion of our national security must begin with recognition and respect for our men and women in uniform."
If the mission is immoral, then the troops are as well. If you, Ms. Pelosi, believe tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians died for U.S. oil interests you seemed to like that Michael Moore movie that made this claim then why are you holding back on the guys pulling the triggers? At least have the courage of your convictions. If the mission is immoral, then those who carry it out are at best moral cowards and at worst murderers. You can't have it both ways.
"We all know that the United States cannot stay in Iraq indefinitely and continue to be viewed as an occupying force."
That's us, an occupying force. And you know how occupying forces are, fighting any attempt at self-determination, desperate to rule from afar, frightened to the point of murdererousness of self-government. Oh, wait. We just sent soldiers to fight and die so Iraqis we don't know could hold elections and rule themselves. Tell me again how we're an oppressive occupying force, Ms. Pelosi?
"Neither should we slip out the back door, falsely declaring victory but leaving chaos."
Wasn't this your prescription all through the election? Just last week Senator Edward Kennedy called for immediate withdrawal. Senator John Kerry put the option on the table during the presidential campaign remember? I defy you to provide any example whatsoever of President Bush suggesting we "slip out the back door" or leave the place tomorrow, in chaos or not. No, ma'am. That's been your party's line, not the President's.
"Despite the best efforts of our troops and their Iraqi counterparts, Iraq still faces a violent and persistent insurgency…."
You bet. Do you remember who the insurgency represents? Let me make it easy for you: Not Iraqis. The insurgency opposed the free and successful elections this weekend that allowed Iraqis to choose their government for the first time in generations. Now they will oppose the government. What might you have done to get rid of them by now? Put off the elections? Pull out? Those are the suggestions the rest of us recall hearing from your side.
For three years, the President has failed to put together a comprehensive plan to protect America from terrorism, and we did not hear one tonight."
I guess that's why we've been attacked almost daily since then. No wait. We haven't been attacked on our own soil since then, have we? Darn Bush policies! If only we could have been safer these past three years!
And so her speech went, platitude after platitude, contradiction after self-contradiction. It was the sort of thing that sours people on the hope for informed discourse. It also will sour a few sentient liberals on the leadership of the Democratic Party.
There are plenty of reasonable arguments to be made about the Bush doctrine, the strategy and execution of the war in Iraq, and the administration's approach to homeland security. Too bad Ms. Pelosi isn't acquainted with any of them. Her speech, with its pre-fab appeals to G-d, country and army men, was the remnant of an ideology shot down by reality, when the Democrats and the nation as a whole deserve a vital opposition with philosophy and spirit.
"We are called to do this and more by our faith and our common humanity, and also because these actions will enhance our national security."
Blah, blah, blah as opposed to what President Bush tells us is the reason for doing what we do: Because liberty, western civilization and sacrifice in its defense are inherently morally right. This simple goal ought to transcend American politics, but it doesn't anymore.
Opposition for its own sake is hackery. In a town full of hacks, Minority Leader Ms. Pelosi is now the leader of that group, too.
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