Home » Our Columns

Pelosi’s Partisan Blast Killed the Deal

Thomas F. Roeser 30 September 2008 4 Comments

Let this old House staffer veteran (circa 1958) tell you: the Speaker has the power to affect history by prudential judgment. In April, 1951 Douglas MacArthur appeared before a joint meeting (not session) of Congress to defend his record in Korea. As the world knows he delivered a stem-winding speech, respondent in his simple army jacket with 5 stars appended to his shoulder-straps. The windup “old soldiers never die” ended with a thunderclap. The applause was still ringing when the Senate trooped out and the House went back into regular session. Speaker Sam Rayburn gaveled the session to order. Not fully understanding the electricity of the moment, he personally recognized an old friend, a conservative southern Democrat.

Rayburn, a Truman supporter, expected a sonorous voice of support for MacArthur, nothing more. Instead his old friend turned the tables on him and introduced a resolution on the spot calling for the impeachment of Harry Truman because of his firing of MacArthur. The House, ringed dry with emotion from the speech by the old World War II hero, thundered “YES! LET THE RESOLUTION BE SUBMITTED RIGHT HERE AND NOW AND WE’LL VOTE!’

The temper of the House was such that old partisan loyalties died and as Rayburn tried to gavel it back to order he calculated that votes were there to begin an impeachment of Truman on a highly improbable but emotional cause-exerting his presidential right to fire a general in the field. But Truman was highly unpopular…as unpopular as George W. Bush is now…land the Korean War was grievously unpopular…far more unpopular than the Iraqi War is now because Truman had initiated the war without as much as a single vote (he called his decision a “police action”). Rayburn was stunned to see the Democratic chairman of his own armed services, Uncle Carl Vinson (his eyes misting, his lips curling in anger at Truman) rising to second the motion-and Republicans by the score were thrilled at the opportunity to see the president in the prisoner’s dock no matter what the infraction, even though he would certainly have been exonerated.

The man later to be my revered boss, Rep. Walter H. Judd (R-Minnesota), on foreign affairs, a supporter of MacArthur but also understanding of the crisis a passed resolution of impeachment would become for America’s role in the world, raced to the podium and conferred with the Speaker of the opposite party. He found Rayburn angered, stunned and ready to gavel the resolution into extinction. No-no, said Dr. Judd (a renowned medical doctor who had been a missionary to China), deal with it in a legitimate way.

Rayburn listened. He gaveled the House to silence and said gravely that the resolution would be referred to House Rules. Everyone was appeased and trooped out. The old wise heads of Rules met, had a taste of bourbon and branch water, and decided the resolution was out of order. The moment passed.

Unfortunately the gentle-lady from San Francisco chose another tack. She left the podium, went to the floor and in the guise of urging a vote and purportedly getting Republican votes for the measure she deemed important, utterly lost her cool and turned her speech into a savage partisan attack on the very Republicans she had hoped to woo. The effect was like pouring gasoline on a simmering fire. She strayed from the issue, blasted the “right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation” of financial markets (when in fact Republicans in the Senate following the lead of John McCain tried to exert some regulation on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and were voted down, with Barack Obama voting against curtailment.

An index of her duplicity, her prepared speech…the one that will be in the “Congressional Record”…was bland. Her ad libs did the work. Seeing the lean and hungry Cassius standing behind Barney Frank-Rahm Emanuel-I know what he’ll do. He’ll raise his eyes to heaven and say “what? Us?”

Those who don’t know the House say it was immaterial, that speech by the Speaker. Don’t believe them. A score of Democratic committee chairmen…regarded as part of the leadership… voted with the opposition, emboldened by their leader’s vitriol. Republicans decided they were going to be made the goats anyhow; the milk of human kindness curdled. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 140 Democrats deserted the cause. And because of Ms. Pelosi, the House defeated the bill 228 to 205 and the Dow tanked 800 points…far outstripping the 684-point drop after 9/11.

Thus thanks to Ms. Pelosi there was a $1.1 trillion loss in the economy today. The compliant mainstream media tried to blunt Pelosi’s outrage and laughed happily as the man who speaks without moving his lips, whose head rests double-chinned on his open shirt collar…Barney Frank…lisped his latest quip…that he would graciously speak kindly to 12 Republicans who can be found to switch back (12 was the magic number).

Someone else said it before me but I’ll repeat it.

The. Worst. Speaker. Ever.


  • Charles (author) said:

    So True…

  • Fortunato (author) said:


  • Roger Townsend (author) said:

    It is curious that 12 Dem. members of Barney Franks committee also voted against passage.

  • Dorian Gray (author) said:

    The repeated Botox injections interfered with San Fran Gran Nan’s modest ability to reason.

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.