Friday, July 20, 2007

Prove me Wrong, Madam Speaker

I would be lying if I said that I had a favorable opinion of Nancy Pelosi. I feel this way despite the fact that a few close friends - with intellect and character that I greatly respect - are strong supporters.

Although it is not at all fair, I am willing to admit that this opinion is largely (though not entirely) based on an irrational, unfavorable gut-feeling.

Perhaps I should not admit this weak rationale, but it is a powerful and (will any one dispute?) almost universal aspect of voters' decision making process. So please remember the criteria for casting the first stone....

Anyway, I suppose that I feel comfortable admitting this personal weakness because I also know that I can and will give credit where it is due - and the Speaker has a big opportunity to win some points with me in the near future - and more importantly - to do some good for the country.

On the flip side, she could also ease my conscience by giving my instincts some supporting evidence.

The Senate recently passed the first measure since the 1970's that would require American automakers to raise the fuel efficiency of the automobiles they produce.

Under Speaker Pelosi's leadership, the House is trying to pass its own energy legislation. However, the current drafts do not include the efficiency law the Senate passed. The New York Times largely attributes this to a particularly powerful member of Pelosi's own party, Rep. John Dingell of (shocker) Michigan.

Over a year ago, I attended a speech Ms. Pelosi gave at my graduate school. It was a pitch about Democratic ideas for the future and the progress that our voting Democrat in 2006 could bring.

The centerpiece of the speech independence.

Of course, this is a tremendously (and ever increasingly) important idea, but hardly a new one.

Some genuine leadership on the issue - precisely the kind Speaker Pelosi has the chance to demonstrate here - now that would be new.


Unknown said...

I don't know if it's as black and white as that. I would love to see legislation mandating increased fuel efficiency, but President Oily McOil threatens to veto it, and the Democrats don't have the votes to override it. Should Pelosi decide to exclude the fuel efficiency language, I think it's unfair to interpret this as weakness of character when it may just be a case of taking what you can get from a hostile White House.

Unknown said...

This is unrelated, but I think it's prudent to make sure our home viewers keep in mind which party is the greater of two evils: Mitt Romney likes torture.

Jared said...

They should make him veto it. The increased fuel efficiency standards are the only meaningful step forward in this bill (at least the completed Senate version).

If they send a strong bill, it will put President Bush in a position where he may have to explain how a veto reconciles with his call to decrease American gasoline consumption by 20% by 2020.

Yes, I know he probably won't "explain" anything - but at least make the hypocrisy formal. Pin him down.

If he does veto it and they want to waste their time sending him a useless bill to sign, fine.

But if they dont send him the right bill first, they become just as responsible for the status quo on this issue as he is...

Unknown said...

With any other President, I might agree, but we already know that this administration has no shame. You point them out repeatedly as liars and hypocrites, and what happens? Nothing. It affects nothing, and it changes nothing. The normal rules of politics don't apply.

I think that a Congress that makes a habit of sending the White House bills that it knows are going to be vetoed is more responsible for a crummy status quo than a Congress that recognizes what kind of White House it's dealing with and compromises, however unpleasant that might be, accordingly. Shooting progressive legislation at the President only to watch it bounce off him like bullets on Superman's chest is ultimately not productive.

During any other presidency, the Congress could use such a veto to damage the President politically, lower his credibility, and increase its own leverage. But this President has no credibility, no sense of responsibility to the people, and no sense of accountability to any force on earth or in heaven. How do you work around that? I personally have no idea. I just count the days...

Jared said...

I understand your point and think it is a good argument. Still, I come down on the side of sending him the bill or dropping the whole thing and moving on. Without the gas standards, the bill is meaningless and they should move on to another issue where genuine "progress" is possible (if there is such an area right now).

What would truly make me furious, beyond a Presidential veto, is the passage of a meangingless bill that allows all participants to claim a political victory while we, the American people, have nothing to show for it.

This is what happend with the last energy bill...except that a few Americans, most notably oil company executives and stockholders did score a victory in the form of subsidies.

Speaking of which, how does this not appear on the front page of every major newspaper every single day? Companies that are literally making bigger profits than any other company in any other industry in American history are getting cash payments from the government.

Somebody has some explaining to do - and it is not just the President. He can veto a bill, but he can't write a bill - not these days, anyway.

Unknown said...

The alternative is that the Democratic Congress sends a strong bill, and it gets vetoed. Then the Republicans can claim a political victory, and the American people still get nothing.

It's very frustrating. I'm not at all convinced by my own argument, and I completely understand yours and am very sympathetic to it. Ultimately, this is probably because there just isn't a workaround to having a President such as ours.

Jared said...

There is one work-around.

A veto proof majority and/or bi-paritisan consensus (e.g. where we are slowly but surely getting on Iraq).

I wonder if there is a strategy by which the Democrats work with the big three Dem Presidential candidates to hammer the need for this provision? I know that no platfrom compares to the Presidency, but the more talk, the more the Republican holdouts on this bill (who still are very much accountable to public opinion, unlike the President)will have to rationalize their opposition.

Also, I dont see the veto as something the Republicans can claim victory on. I bet most Americans, even smaller government types, favor higher mileage standards....afterall, its not just about the environment, but about national security. With current gas prices, it is even a "day to day" economic issue for most Americans.

I think they can and should force this.

Anyway, we could beat this horse to death - and I think we have...

Good discussion.