It's not suprising that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized 18-term Congressman Pete Stark for his heartfelt and emotional comments about the Republican's failure to override Bush's veto of S-CHIP. In a blog last week, I predicted that Pelosi would do just that.
Still, it's downright disappointing. Maybe the DCCC should bring on board MSNBC's feisty Keith Olbermann to give it some backbone. I think Olbermann got it right when he called Stark's remarks "refreshing."
The way Pelosi turned on Stark is bound to turn people off of politics--which are already so canned and scripted, and devoid of human feeling and emotion. Look what happens to someone decent like Pete Stark, who steps out of the mold to express his anger and passion about what he believes, sincerely, is being doing to harm our kids.
Can't you just see the Democratic consultants going berserk after Stark said what he did--even if it was in the heat of the moment and debate. Trouble alerts issued in DC--someone speaks his heart and mind! Can't you see the consultants telling party chieftains--Distance Yourself: This will hurt you in '08. Then you have the right-wing, anger-fomenting media machine ripping into full gear. Hannity, Limbaugh, Ingraham, Malkin, O'Reilly and ilk salivating and bloviating and distracting attention from the real story.
That is, what is despicable and beneath contempt are not Stark's words but this administration's assault on kids. Speaker Pelosi stated that she was worried about how her longtime congressional ally's words, "distracted from the seriousness of the subject at hand--providing health care for America's children."
With all due respect, I think the Speaker should be more worried about how Republicans' assault on kids' health and wellbeing begins at home and extends to Iraq. I think she might have issued a tough and humane statement, calling on all to stop wasting time on attacking people like Pete Stark-- whose emotional words reflects real concern and care for the future of this nation-- and start providing healthcare for all, including our beloved kids, and ending a war that is killing US men and women, thousands of Iraqis, stretching our military to breaking point and undermining our security.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.
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