Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sheehan vs. Pelosi

So Cindy Sheehan, of anti-war activism fame, is running for Nancy Pelosi's seat in Congress. Sigh.

I don't have any skin in this game, since I don't live in the district. But I read the article in today's Chronicle, and I'm just shaking my head over this. This woman has no clue; she's trying to chew up more than she can bite off; and if she were to succeed, she'd do serious damage to California's interests in Congress.

I don't agree with everything Nancy Pelosi does, but she's got my serious respect as a politician who picks her fights carefully, and keeps coming back until she wins. Her argument for not going after impeachment is compelling ("it would be divisive, we couldn't get the votes, and we would have to spend all our time on it."). I'm also impressed by the way she's maintained absolute public impartiality in a lively Democratic presidential primary. I think she knows her job and does it well.

She's the speaker of the House. If Cindy Sheehan unseats her, she will be the most junior of the junior, and San Francisco's (California's) influence in Congress will be significantly diminished.

Of course I know I'm arguing in support of the current incumbent-biased system. I don't agree with it, and have voted to change it whenever I was given the chance, but absent change, you have to work with what you have. Congress is a system in which long service equals more power.

So Cindy, I'm not going to wish you good luck, because frankly, I don't think you either can or should win. You certainly have a right to try.


  1. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Nancy Pelosi must have known that "....we couldn't get the votes...." for impeachment all the while she, herself, was advocating for just that and portraying herself as a Democratic version of Joan of Arc. To begin with, I'm not sure there wouldn't have been enough votes for an impeachment. We can't just presume that Republican representatives would have remained steadfast to their party if given the opportunity to impeach Bush. The Republican representatives up for re-election are aware that they may fail to get re-elected the next election cycle, for the same reasons enough of their colleagues were ousted the previous elections because of Bush's War, so why wouldn't they want to drag Bush down with them?

  2. During the Clinton terms, a lot of energy went into trying to accommodate the Right by brokering business-friendly and government-stingy legislation (like NAFTA). In retrospect, that shouldn't have been necessary; the Republican interest were perfectly happy to be coddled and schmoozed with; they couldn't believe their good luck. Also in retrospect, it now appears certain that that shouldn't have happened. "Centrism" may mean nothing more than the usual capitulation to capital. I can still remember listening to Al Gore lobbying for business. I wonder what he would say now, in response to the Republican position that global warming can't be addressed because we can't "afford" to do so.

    True bi-partisanship BEGINS with the firm conviction that there are a handful of planks in your platform that are NOT negotiable: Pelosi has been busy defending a lot of half-hearted compromise legislation, while playing footsie under the table. It's repulsive. It's almost as if the fear of being regarded as principled is greater than the danger of actually accomplishing what was worthwhile in the first place. Why do we elect these people?--just to listen to excuses?

    Pelosi needs to get off the stump and push the envelope. It's well overdue.