Mean Old Nancy

Take a listen to Nancy Pelosi’s speech–yes, that one, the one that the tough guys from the GOP are now saying made them reach for their scented handkerchiefs. The idea that this was an over-the-top partisan speech are just absurd, and say something very interesting about the House Republicans.

More specifically:

1) Not once did Pelosi criticize House Republicans. In fact, she went out of her way to compliment some of them–in particular the Republican ranking member of Financial Services, Boehner, and Blunt.

2) Yes, she did criticize what she called “Bush’s failed economic policies.” But why is it somehow ridiculous for her to try to assign blame for this? The Republicans seemingly wanted her to say, “support the bill but I’m not going to tell you why”–essentially asking her to take all the political heat for it. Unsurprisingly, she said no.

3) Yes, she decried the (shameful) lack of new bankruptcy authority in the bill. But if anything, that was to try to get her own caucus on board. And to some extent, it worked: the Dems promised 110 votes, and Pelosi delivered 140.


The only way in which the House Republicans can argue that Pelosi criticized them is because they criticized Bush and the Paulson. But they are now loudly saying that they are upset at them, too. So what, exactly, are they complaining about? Either they are with Bush, in which case they could say that the speech was partisan, or they aren’t (and they say they aren’t), in which case they don’t have a leg to stand on.

I realize that it may be somewhat pointless to argue logically with the House Republican Caucus, but the record should be set straight.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.