After all the stories about “Hillary the centrist,” it’s time for a front-page puff-piece article in the L.A. Times about “Nancy the centrist”:
“She convinced me,” said [Earl] Blumenauer, whose vote helped give [Nancy] Pelosi her most important legislative victory. “For me, there was no attempt at pressure. I was able to convey my concerns. She was there. She was listening.”
Pelosi’s performance on the war spending bill highlighted what has become her signature: an aggressive leadership style that seeks to put Congress on par with the White House and prove that her notoriously fractious party can indeed govern.
The author of the piece, Faye Fiore, certainly knows how to gush:
As the highest-ranking woman in elective office, Pelosi is as much a power player as the men who preceded her.
“She’s well-bred, a lady through and through,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Atherton), Pelosi’s friend of 30 years. “But anyone who knows her knows not to mess with her.”
With a father who was a Baltimore mayor and congressman who ran a political machine out of the family’s brick row house, Pelosi cultivates loyalty in ways large and small, much as her father did — keeping careful political tallies, but still remembering birthdays.
She opens her office doors to the factions of her ideologically splintered caucus, instructing staffers to stock the refrigerator and “always offer guests.”
Ain’t she the greatest?
There’s plenty of negative stuff to say about Pelosi, and the article alludes to some of it — but stuffs it all down after the jump:
OK, most of the readers are gone now. It’s safe to mention her screw-ups. And so, for the first time, those few readers that bother to turn to the back pages get to read about a real negative:
Pelosi’s forceful approach carries risks. Her recent trip to Syria, where she boasted of carrying a message from the Israeli prime minister, drew surprised Israelis’ immediate clarifications, as well as swipes from the White House, which said she was meddling dangerously in foreign policy. Images of Pelosi in a head scarf appeared on television as critics derided her for kowtowing to a dictator.
That’s the first serious negative mentioned in the article — unless you count it as a negative that liberals say she’s a bad listener and conservatives say she’s a great listener. (A centrist! in other words.) And the negative is safely tucked on the back pages.
Note, by the way, the use of the active voice and the portrayal of the controversy as attacks by rivals: “swipes from the White House” (are “swipes” ever legitimate criticism?), and critics deriding her. If it were a Republican who had done this, you’d read about how a “controversy arose” over the Syrian trip — as if the controversy had a life of its own. This is how wording is used to subtly tell you whose side you should be on, as I have discussed before.
And for the benefit of any reader who does manage to make it all the way back to Page A14, the paper presents a silver living to the cloud of the Syria trip:
But her attempts to open a Middle East dialogue also underscored Pelosi’s ambition — to be the public face of a resurgent party out to show voters it can be trusted to run the country.
Oh. Well, that sounds nice.
Further down on Page A14, there’s another negative mentioned in paragraph 21, about Pelosi’s lack of recall of details at a televised press conference about Iraq. And there are a few more negatives listed for any reader who makes it aaaaallllllllllll the way down to the 27th paragraph. But even these are spun in Pelosi’s favor:
There have been, however, some questionable decisions.
In the contest over who would succeed her as House Democratic leader, Pelosi split the caucus — needlessly, in the view of some Democrats — when she unsuccessfully tried to defeat an old rival, the popular Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.
No mention is made of the fact that the person Pelosi tried to install was Jack Murtha, a guy who looked pretty shady in tapes of the ABSCAM investigation. What made Pelosi’s backing of Murtha so eye-opening was the spectacle of the corruption-fighting party pushing people like Murtha, who had shown a willingness to consider bribes, and Alcee Hastings, who was impeached for taking them. This angle is not mentioned, even briefly.
And check out how the article portrays her demands for a larger military jet:
She was blindsided by a flap over her request for a larger military jet to fly around the country, a perk that comes with being second-in-line to the presidency. Conservatives made headlines calling her a diva.
Damn conservatives, blindsiding her like that! Why, it doesn’t sound like she had any fault in that at all!
A paper that wanted to slam her could simply push these and other negatives to the top of the article, and bury the pap about how great she is on Page A14. Or, a paper that just wanted to be fair [No chuckling allowed during the reading of the blog post. — Ed.] could run something more balanced and give positives and negatives equal play and prominence.
But I wouldn’t expect either from reporter Faye Fiore, who has experience rhapsodizing about powerful Democrat women in politics. As I noted in a January 2005 post, to Fiore, Dianne Feinstein is “the centrist stateswoman” while Barbara Boxer is “the passionate standard-bearer.” As I told you, it was more important to Fiore to claim that Boxer had “succeeded in getting [Condoleeza Rice’s] goat” than it was to explain that Boxer had misrepresented the facts in doing so.
All in all, it’s certainly quite a different approach towards a Speaker of the House than the paper took with Tom DeLay, who saw the irrelevant details of his father’s death dragged into the Terri Schiavo controversy by a gang of chuckling editors out to take a cheap shot.
What’s the difference between Nancy Pelosi and Tom DeLay, that they should receive such wildly different treatment from the paper?
I’ll let you ponder that one.