Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is among my least favorite politicians. She is a disingenuous opportunist at best, and a disgraceful liar at worst. She seems to have no interest whatsoever in working with members of the opposition party (though plenty of other leaders in both parties can be accused of the same). She has no qualms about lying through her teeth to advance her career or, as we have recently seen, protect her ‘image’ as a liberal populist. Ultimately, there are 257 Democrats in the House today . . . probably 200 of them would be better choices for the role of Speaker.
Let us briefly discuss some highlights of Pelosi’s actions and character over the last several years:
In April 2007, in direct violation of the Logan Act, Pelosi traveled to Syria without any executive branch review and arguably worked against the interests of the United States in order to cast herself as a ‘peacemaker’. The Logan Act (USC Title 18, Part I, Chapter 45, §953) prohibits any U.S. citizen, including members of Congress, from engaging in foreign policy activity without the approval of the president or his designates.
In 2008, Pelosi—who professes to be a Catholic—stated in an interview that there was historic disagreement in the Catholic Church about when life begins. This statement, a questionable effort to defend her support for abortion when her [supposed] faith demands that she oppose it as an intrinsic evil, is patently untrue. The church has been entirely consistent throughout its entire history on this issue, and Pelosi’s statement—whether spoken from ignorance or malice—is inexcusable for a public official. It’s one thing to go against the teachings of your faith, but it’s quite another to publicly misrepresent the teachings of your faith. This is not, properly, a political concern, but it does speak volumes about Pelosi’s character.
Just recently, another bombshell dropped about Pelosi. Throughout the presidency of George W. Bush (R), Pelosi was very outspoken against the administration’s prosecution of the War on Terror. As it was publicly revealed more recently that certain ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, like ‘waterboarding‘, were used on terrorists, Pelosi condemned it as torture.
This might surprise you, but I actually agree with Pelosi on this one. Waterboarding is certainly not very severe as torture goes—it leaves no permanent physical harm—and the folks we did it to are some of the most dangerous and evil people in the world. Regardless, simulating drowning is a form of torture. We, as a country, are better than that. We shouldn’t have done it, we shouldn’t do it now, and we should never do it again in the future. When former Vice President Dick Cheney (R) says that lives were saved because the government got information through these ‘enhanced’ techniques, I believe him. That doesn’t make it right.
So how does Pelosi’s opposition to waterboarding reflect badly on her? Because it’s all a lie. Pelosi was briefed by the CIA in 2002 about the interrogation techniques being used at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and raised no objections to the technique. Since this was brought to her attention, she has alternately claimed that the CIA never briefed her (lie), that the CIA briefed her but never mentioned waterboarding (lie), that they briefed her on waterboarding but never told her they had actually ever done it (lie), and whatever else comes to her mind.
Look, I’m no fan of the Democratic Party—never have been—but the Democratic Party deserves better than Nancy Pelosi as their leader in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party deserves better than a speaker who silently accedes to torture in the back-rooms of the Capitol while publicly condemning it. The Democratic Party deserves better than this back-and-forth spastic backpedaling that has filled volumes in the pages of our newspapers without actually clarifying anything about what Pelosi knew about waterboarding and when.
It is time for Representative Nancy Pelosi to step down from her position as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. If she does not step down, it is time for the Democratic Party to remove her. Whether or not Pelosi leaves her position as Speaker, I hope the people of California’s 8th Congressional District are taking note of the questionable character of the person who represents them, and I hope they act accordingly in November 2010.