Saturday, April 07, 2007

The sliming of Speaker Pelosi

Like many, I have been watching Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to the Middle East this week and the reaction to it. It has devolved into a case study in Republican smear operations. A typical partisan shout-fest, with the shouting and howls courtesy of Bush's Republican media noise machine, of course. I'm sure Sandra Buckler's minions watched and learned as the week progressed, eager to so use their own brand new war-room digs.

Leading the charge against Pelosi was Dick Cheney, who trashed Pelosi on - where else - Rush Limbaugh's show yesterday:

"Bad behaviour" condescended the wrong-on-every-count Cheney of Pelosi's visit to Syria. All the while quietly acquiescing to Republican members visiting Syria and failing to publicly condemn them for their behaviour. One can only surmise that Cheney is still being used to ensure that Bush's remaining 30% of support doesn't crumble as Bush becomes less and less relevant. Who else would believe Cheney's judgmental attacks on Pelosi? Witness the report yesterday providing definitive confirmation that Cheney's perpetual linking of Al-Qaeda to Iraq as a justification for that war was and is off. Way off. Yet he continues to mislead on the point, as recently as Friday.

The hypocrisy of the attack on Pelosi for daring to speak with American enemies was challenged nevertheless, by columnists such as Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post who roundly criticized his own editorial page for its Pelosi smackdown. And Keith Olbermann stepped up (see video above) to question why his nation should forego the opportunity of speaking to hostile nations. Speaking with American enemies, Keith's report informs, has been advocated by some within the Bush administration including Condoleezza Rice's recent statement regarding speaking with Iran and Bush's own tacit support for Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson's impending visit to North Korea.

Pelosi, for her part, fought back immediately and appropriately against the onslaught. And she did it with a sureness and serenity that continue to win this blogger's plaudits. Here are a few of her statements on the brouhaha:
“We understand our responsibilities when we leave the country,” Ms. Pelosi said. “On all the issues, it was a very direct message, very consistent with the Bush administration’s message.” She said her message “was not always the one everyone wanted to hear.”

“I come back thinking, all right, we will get through their tantrum,” Ms. Pelosi said, in a reference to the administration, “but the fact is, we accomplished what we set out to do. I think we improved the understanding among the different parties.”
Her characterization of their attacks on her as being the equivalent of a "tantrum" strikes the same note as her plea for Bush to "calm down" just over a week ago. It immediately diffuses the emotion and marginalizes the criticism. She's quite good at it. (This is what we need to see more of from Stephane Dion.)

The force with which the right wing came at Pelosi is a reminder of the viciousness of the conservative noise operation which still launches assaults in such a concerted manner. The Limbaughs, Hannitys, RNC and Bush administration officials all work together to propel the slime operation. The attacks no longer go unchallenged, but they remain an awesome force of public relations, ready to go so far as to portray the Speaker of the House as unpatriotic, dangerous and disloyal. It's truly amazing to witness how far the foot soldiers will still go in Bush's name when the guy is pushing 30% in the approval ratings.

And quite unfortunately, we've got the same dynamic shaping up in Canada as we witness the unveiling of Mini Bush's war room this week with its state of the art media capabilities - including television studios where attack ads are proudly displayed. The priority given to such negative modes of attack by Harper's crew is a distinct echo of the Republican media offensive undertaken against any opponent who suddenly catches fire in the public mind.

Speaker Pelosi stealing Bush's spotlight as he increasingly becomes irrelevant? See above. John Kerry and John Edwards leading Bush after the Democratic convention in 2004? Launch a terror alert. Stephane Dion inspiring Canadians after his election as leader in December 2006? Launch a series of negative ads. A fellow conservative Premier impugning Harper? Crush him like a bug without any regard to statesmanship.

The Harper gang seems bent on emulating the tactics of an administration so obviously on the decline.

Far be it from me to interfere...