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Jewish World Review Feb. 4, 2005 / 25 Shevat, 5765

Michael Long

Mike Long
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Consumer Reports

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!

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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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JWR contributor Michael Long is a a director of the White House Writers Group. Comment by clicking here.


01/21/05: Busybody
01/14/05: Washington Will Never Understand Religious Faith
01/05/05: Top cultural events and trends predictions for 2005   —   based on more than wishful thinking
12/30/04: Iraq: Where We Stand
08/05/03: The California Virus
07/24/03: A Few Thoughts on the News
07/10/03: How To Win By Losing: It's much smarter to let this one go
06/20/03: Dems turn a sensible question into pure politics
03/19/03: Another thing for Bill Clinton to Zip Up: his time, it's his mouth
02/25/03: The Cradle of Civilization, Again
01/31/03: Silencing opponents because you can
01/28/03: You can't always eat what you want ... But you still can, for a while 01/10/03: What They Believe For The Moment
12/06/02: Federal Spending: Look At It This Way … And weep
11/15/02: On the radio: What really happens behind the scenes at talk shows
11/08/02: Coming Soon: 1972
10/31/02: The Election Goes Republican: Election 2002 finds Democrats alienating nearly everyone
10/22/02: What if we never catch the terrorist-sniper?
10/04/02: A Few Thoughts On The News
09/27/02: Goodbye To All That: The terrible, wide war that must be fought
09/20/02: The Florida Lesson: We need better voters, not better machines
09/13/02: A few thoughts on the news
09/06/02: Give Them What They Want
08/13/02: The Dangerous Lull on Iraq ... And how today's delay proves why 9/11 had to happen
07/26/02: Where's Honest Debate on Judge Owen?: NOW members should demand better of President Kim Gandy
07/19/02: A Secret No One Can Keep: Why Osama bin Laden is still alive
07/09/02: Don't forget why Bush was elected
06/28/02: The bravest pop culture icon in the war on terror
06/14/02: Five Thoughts On Father's Day: Personal Stuff
06/06/02: Stay Awake, Grads, I'm Almost Done Talking: Life, and How to Live It
05/31/02: See This Movie: "The Sum of All Fears" is a wake-up call
05/24/02: Richard Simmons for President? What really motivates the fat-taxers
05/13/02: The Carnival at the FAIR: "Unbiased" acquires a new definition
04/22/02: Bottled And Sold: Economic Confidence Under a Screw-top
04/12/02: McGovern's Respectful Dissent
04/02/02: The Right to Do Wrong: The Creator, A Clockwork Orange, and war
03/26/02: The Big Story No One Talks About: Why isn't Washington serious about airport security?
03/18/02: Worlds Away: A snapshot of anti-Semitism in the Moslem world
03/08/02: The safest place in the world --- for now
03/05/02: Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
02/22/02: And Then What?: Fear and Loathing Around the Corner
02/15/02: Al Gore and the real root cause of terrorism
02/08/02: A few thoughts on the news
02/01/02: Ready, Aim, Cloud The Issue: An irresponsible report on "terrorism" from the Brady Center
01/28/02: Discretion and Art, Part 2
01/16/02: Discretion and Art
01/08/02: Desperate Dems
12/18/01: Politics and Holidays
12/07/01: A war bigger than we know: Changing the future, slowly and surely
11/28/01: A Mid-Winter Night's Dream: A play in one fun act
11/20/01: A Lot of War Left To Fight
11/13/01: Guess who Clinton's apologizing for now: I'll bet you guessed right
11/02/01: Rules for Wartime: Rule Number One: Remember what's true
10/26/01: The Moral Case For Torture: Dirty hands don't always mean dirty souls
10/19/01: Questions for the Anti-War Crowd, Part II: What if someone took them seriously?
10/16/01: Questions for the anti-war crowd: If they question you, ask these back
10/12/01: The Jason Problem: Sometimes they only look dead
10/08/01: A little hindsight: A letter for readers in the future
09/28/01: Calling Bono: A plea to the pop culture elite to speak out
09/20/01: Encouragement from the Heartland, by mail
09/13/01: Bleeding time
09/07/01: The trailer-park taste of the public radio catalog
09/04/01: BRAVE NEW FREUD: Internet-based psychiatry may mean relief for those who have shunned treatment
08/17/01: First Amendment: Chickens home to roost
07/27/01: Dispatch From The Front: The Gun Control War
07/20/01: Summer song
07/03/01: It's a Wonderful Recount

© 2004, Michael Long