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Player of the Week: Nancy Pelosi

Having been raised on a steady diet of highlight shows like Sportscenter and This Week in Baseball (with the greatest theme song ever), Capitol Briefing has always been fond of awards like "Pepsi Clutch Performer" and "Rolaids Relief Man."

Beginning today, Capitol Briefing will begin handing out his own honor - Player of the Week. The award will go each Friday to the lawmaker or other congressional figure who has had the biggest impact or the most interesting role in the week's events. The award won't always be a positive -- a member who gets embroiled in scandal will be just as ripe a candidate as the one who scores a big legislative victory.

The winner won't receive any actual prize - that might draw frowns from the ethics committee or Howard Kurtz. But the recipient will get a place of honor in the Capitol Briefing archive, viewable online for posterity.

So, without further ado, the first-ever Player of the Week award goes to ... (Capitol Briefing fumbles to open the envelope) ... Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for her work on the just-completed economic stimulus package.

Success has 1,000 fathers (and mothers), and the unusually rapid agreement and passage of the stimulus bill was the work of several players. Pelosi crafted the original version that passed the House at the bargaining table with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The Senate measure was vetted by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and its passage last night was the product of a deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

But while everyone wanted a bill to pass, and all the leaders crowed about it last night, Pelosi had both the most to gain and the most to lose in this process.

Democrats' biggest challenge this year is proving that they can govern, that they can get important legislation passed and signed into law. The stimulus bill was especially important on this front, as the recession-fearing public's abysmally low view of Congress would have gone even further into the tank had it not passed.

Pelosi took a big risk by sitting down with Boehner and the Bush administration to negotiate -- something she has almost never done since becoming Speaker. She took heat from some factions of her caucus for doing so, and for agreeing to a bill that was missing some Democratic priorities, like an extension of unemployment benefits.

Of course, Boehner faced some criticism of his own from conservatives, who wanted more relief for businesses and were wary of the idea of tax rebates. But Boehner -- and McConnell -- always had a fallback option.

If the entire process had fallen apart, Republicans could have blamed Democrats for once again failing to get an important bill through. Democrats, in turn, would have accused the GOP of obstructionism. But ultimately, when Congress fails to produce, the majority party tends to get the majority of the blame.

So why give the award to Pelosi rather than Reid? Because the bill that ended up passing last night looked a lot more like the House bill than the one Reid tried, and failed, to get through the Senate Wednesday evening because he couldn't find a 60th vote to end a GOP filibuster. Gone were Senate-added items like an extension of unemployment insurance and energy tax credits. What was left was essentially the House bill, with the addition of benefits for seniors and veterans that House Democrats had wanted anyway.

So now Pelosi has a big accomplishment under her belt just a couple of weeks into the session, one that managed to win above-the-fold, front-page press coverage on a day full of presidential campaign news. When things get rougher later in the year, as they are certain to do, and Democrats are having trouble getting things done, they can always fall back on the stimulus bill as a concrete example of their ability to govern.

The genesis of that victory was Pelosi's decision to cut a deal, and that's why she's the Player of the Week.


By Ben Pershing  |  February 8, 2008; 12:29 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders , House , Player of the Week  
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Next: Oh Boy, More Debates!

Comments

How can Pelosi get an award on Fri when they leave Thursday night and get back in on Mon Nite or Tuesday. For this Congress to say that they would work a five day week lasted 0 weeks.
If you want to verify this, watch C-Span on 1 channell and another for the Senate. C-Spans contract call for covering House and Senate from Opening bell until closing.
They served less than 120 days this last session and we are paying there salaries. Don't we deserve a refund?

Posted by: bcards@yahoo.com | February 9, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The Speaker is to be praised for her leadership,getting something out of the gridlock and the muck and mire of a broken leaderless central governmnent. Her attempt to help middleclass Americans is outstanding. Soon the Speaker will have help,please take notice of the 14 million people, that have voted in the Democratic primaries all across this country. New leadership that changes the way the politics of this country is done,the change is coming,Americans are saying, "Yes we can".

Posted by: Larry Vereen | February 9, 2008 11:31 PM | Report abuse

nancy has seriously damaged my regard for her by blocking the impeachment of bush and his criminal cabal. you bush supporters should love her.

Posted by: goldenrulejoe | February 10, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

How I wish there was a real possibility of Bush/Cheney being impeached!

That said, bcards: Just because they are not before the CSPAN camera does not mean they are not working. There is a lot of staff work just getting a good idea of what the bills they are going to vote on actually say. Plus they need to leave Washington ( a good thing ) to keep relationships with the people who elected them.

So the hours spent on the floor IMHO is one of the least good criteria to judge Congress.

Posted by: Bruce Williams | February 10, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with Pershing's selection of "Mother" Pelosi as Player of the Week. It is amazing that the "donkeys" can't be happy that the House was able to get together and move forward with some effort to slow down the recession. It appears as if they want this country to fail. I personally dislike Pelosi (and Clinton) intensely, but she did an admirable job to bring all the parties to the table and moved a law to be passed. Those in the Senate led by MisLeader Reid continue to be clueless. And, besides get all those Senators who are or have been running for President to do their jobs. If they wish to be spending all their time campaigning then take a leave of absence with no pay just like everybody else. When I grow up I want to be a Senator and get all those benefits.

Posted by: Blitzer14 | February 10, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

How can the "economic stimulus package" make sense when every dollar is being borrowed from the Chinese?

Where are we going and why are we in this basket?

Posted by: Ahwatukee T | February 11, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, forget the recent giveback; Rep. Pelosi represents a much bigger failed House agenda by taking impeachment "off the table". With this decision, the Constitution is ignored once again. The Democrats were given a mandate and they have failed. Now, of course, President Bush and his train wreck are "short-timers" and the needed time is not there. Thanks Nancy!

Posted by: dlbucs | February 11, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Bush's legacy is the end of law

Michael Abraham

Abraham is a businessman who lives in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech Professor Theodore Fuller made a compelling case regarding the negative way history is likely to judge the presidency of George W. Bush ("History will judge Bush harshly," Jan. 30). Consensus is building that the Bush tenure will rank among the worst ever.

Counting the failures has become its own cottage industry. On my desk is a "George W. Bush Countdown Calendar," with each day until his term is over graced with another blunder, misstep, gaffe, inanity or lie -- the abuse du jour.

Fuller's list includes the failure to bring the Iraq war to a successful conclusion, failure to reform Social Security, to maintain the strength of the dollar, to protect the prestige of America in the world.

To these I add: Failure to adequately regulate the financial industry to prevent the subprime crisis that seems destined to hurl our nation into recession. Failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Failure to provide a health care system that works for all Americans. Failure to reverse the widening gap between rich and poor. Failure to stem the influence of corporate wealth and power over our nation, its government and its citizens. Failure to adequately fund and provide a secure future for entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid. Failure to reduce our burgeoning trade deficit. Failure to improve the fuel economy of our nation's transportation network. Failure to maintain and rebuild our national infrastructure.

Repairing the carnage will prove a daunting task for the next administration.

Fuller concludes the greatest failure has been the inability to address the threat of global warming. While this will certainly prove significant, Bush's transcendental failure is more pernicious.

At its essence, our nation is but two things: a pair of borders and an idea. And that idea is that laws are inviolable and nobody is above them. The apogee of this test was the impeachment and expulsion of Richard Nixon. This foundational tenet has all but been destroyed in wanton, unapologetic and systematic ways through the acts and words of George W. Bush and his administration.

It's not that they lied about justifications for war, but in their failure to allow oversight into the processes that produced those lies. It's not in the firing of federal attorneys and the refusal to substantiate the firings, but in the pure partisanship of their actions. It's not their countless refusals to comply with subpoenas from Congress or Freedom of Information Act from the people, but in their arrogated stance, setting themselves above the requirements themselves.

Once when challenged for his unwillingness to submit to the rule of law in an obvious snub of the Constitution, Bush screamed, "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

And thus our Constitution has now become what Bush has made it. This annihilation of the foundational document of our republic was orchestrated by a president who swore an oath of honor to protect it, a devout Christian who promised to restore honor and integrity to the Oval Office.

Congress, in its acquiescence and subservience, is equally culpable. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced, "impeachment is off the table," she not only absolved Bush of all previous transgressions but paved a figurative superhighway for any to come. There's a reason Congress's approval ratings are even lower than the administration's.

That the administration is unapologetic in this power grab is exemplified by this statement by Vice President Dick Cheney, who told Cokie Roberts in January 2002, "[Since Watergate] I have repeatedly seen an erosion of the powers and the ability of the president of the United States to do his job. ... One of the things that I feel an obligation [to do] ... is to pass on our offices in better shape than we found them to our successors." This means placing the president above the laws of the land. Cheney has driven the idea now termed the "unitary executive," which holds that the president is above regulation, oversight or supervision of the courts, the Congress and ultimately the people. All hail King George the W!

It emerges a question of utmost intrigue and expectation as to whether Cheney, Bush and their minions will stand idly by should a Hillary Clinton or a Barack Obama assume this omnipotence, were they to fulfill the will of the people in an election victory.

The decimation of the rule of law and evisceration of the Constitution have been the most insidious of the Bush atrocities.

Posted by: jwh | February 11, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Bush's legacy is the end of law

Michael Abraham

Abraham is a businessman who lives in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech Professor Theodore Fuller made a compelling case regarding the negative way history is likely to judge the presidency of George W. Bush ("History will judge Bush harshly," Jan. 30). Consensus is building that the Bush tenure will rank among the worst ever.

Counting the failures has become its own cottage industry. On my desk is a "George W. Bush Countdown Calendar," with each day until his term is over graced with another blunder, misstep, gaffe, inanity or lie -- the abuse du jour.

Fuller's list includes the failure to bring the Iraq war to a successful conclusion, failure to reform Social Security, to maintain the strength of the dollar, to protect the prestige of America in the world.

To these I add: Failure to adequately regulate the financial industry to prevent the subprime crisis that seems destined to hurl our nation into recession. Failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Failure to provide a health care system that works for all Americans. Failure to reverse the widening gap between rich and poor. Failure to stem the influence of corporate wealth and power over our nation, its government and its citizens. Failure to adequately fund and provide a secure future for entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid. Failure to reduce our burgeoning trade deficit. Failure to improve the fuel economy of our nation's transportation network. Failure to maintain and rebuild our national infrastructure.

Repairing the carnage will prove a daunting task for the next administration.

Fuller concludes the greatest failure has been the inability to address the threat of global warming. While this will certainly prove significant, Bush's transcendental failure is more pernicious.

At its essence, our nation is but two things: a pair of borders and an idea. And that idea is that laws are inviolable and nobody is above them. The apogee of this test was the impeachment and expulsion of Richard Nixon. This foundational tenet has all but been destroyed in wanton, unapologetic and systematic ways through the acts and words of George W. Bush and his administration.

It's not that they lied about justifications for war, but in their failure to allow oversight into the processes that produced those lies. It's not in the firing of federal attorneys and the refusal to substantiate the firings, but in the pure partisanship of their actions. It's not their countless refusals to comply with subpoenas from Congress or Freedom of Information Act from the people, but in their arrogated stance, setting themselves above the requirements themselves.

Once when challenged for his unwillingness to submit to the rule of law in an obvious snub of the Constitution, Bush screamed, "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

And thus our Constitution has now become what Bush has made it. This annihilation of the foundational document of our republic was orchestrated by a president who swore an oath of honor to protect it, a devout Christian who promised to restore honor and integrity to the Oval Office.

Congress, in its acquiescence and subservience, is equally culpable. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced, "impeachment is off the table," she not only absolved Bush of all previous transgressions but paved a figurative superhighway for any to come. There's a reason Congress's approval ratings are even lower than the administration's.

That the administration is unapologetic in this power grab is exemplified by this statement by Vice President Dick Cheney, who told Cokie Roberts in January 2002, "[Since Watergate] I have repeatedly seen an erosion of the powers and the ability of the president of the United States to do his job. ... One of the things that I feel an obligation [to do] ... is to pass on our offices in better shape than we found them to our successors." This means placing the president above the laws of the land. Cheney has driven the idea now termed the "unitary executive," which holds that the president is above regulation, oversight or supervision of the courts, the Congress and ultimately the people. All hail King George the W!

It emerges a question of utmost intrigue and expectation as to whether Cheney, Bush and their minions will stand idly by should a Hillary Clinton or a Barack Obama assume this omnipotence, were they to fulfill the will of the people in an election victory.

The decimation of the rule of law and evisceration of the Constitution have been the most insidious of the Bush atrocities.

Posted by: blabla | February 11, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

What gets me is how the Florida Governor,the President's brother,his State's State Police, the lawyers in Florida and the Supreme Court worked together to get him elected by fraud and force.

Posted by: robert | February 11, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Mrs Pelosi pushed though a 4,000 dollar raise for Congress members when we are up to our ears in debt, millions with no healthcare, losing their homes and a country facing recession. No wonder they have such a poor rating, actually they should be taking a cut in pay instead of a raise.

Posted by: sandra wilton | February 11, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Michael Abraham has to get a grip on himself. His long diatribe places the full responsiblitiy of the world's problem entirely on President Bush. It is amazing that one man can be so distructive.The presidernt has not commited an impeachable offense. He may have made a wrong turn, but let me remind Abraham of the scripture, "...let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."

C'mon man, get real, Bush and many other presidents have f%$#&! up big time in the past. You can't do the do-over bit. You've got to look and move forward to fix or rectify what was wrongly done. Mistakes are not impeachable. Stop whining and offer solution, not add to the country's problem. And, besides, you sre not part of the insiders that know about the problems and intrigues that go with managing the government.

Posted by: Blitzer14 | February 13, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: levitra | February 19, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

George bush is obviosly a victim of KGB Brain wash. His war's are on a deomocracy Iraq) an a CIA allie (Afgavistan). He has ended the BIll of Rights and Constition. He has sabotaged the economy with communist ingredients. He has beheaded a democratically elected President (Saddam Hussein). He consulted me about the KGB mind control infiltration technology that is in his body. As well as the Secret Service bodies. KGB coup is obviosly been what has destroyed the USA.

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