Family Security MattersRon Miller
The recent jockeying for position in the U.S. House of Representatives, involving soon-to-be ex-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, was instructive to watch, yet painful at the same time. In the persons of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Hoyer and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), we saw delusion, arrogance and submission on display, and it makes one question the kind of people weâ€™re sending to Washington as our representatives.
First, the delusion. The Democrats suffered their worst electoral defeat since the days of President Franklin Roosevelt who, like his current day successor, Barack Obama, misread the will of the people and paid heavily for it at the ballot box.
It would be so easy for me to portray President Obamaâ€™s continuing inability to admit this defeat was a rejection of his policies as a textbook case of either delusion or arrogance. He chalks it up to poor communications, or being focused on accomplishment rather than effective marketing, or not deconstructing the complexity of his policies so we could see the fundamental goodness in them. His superior intellect canâ€™t seem to expand enough to encompass the fact that the American people simply arenâ€™t buying what heâ€™s selling.
Meanwhile, his less gracious supporters blame a fearful, misguided or ignorant electorate, and many on the fringe say itâ€™s because the Presidentâ€™s black.
The flamethrowers should know that the people who turned out the implementers of Obamaâ€™s agenda in record numbers were not the Republicans, but the independents, the same people who swept Obama into the White House a mere two years ago. Back then, they were being lauded for their enlightenment and decency; now, all of a sudden, they are rubes and Klansmen. The lack of anything even remotely resembling veracity on the part of the hounds and harpies of the left never ceases to amaze me.
But itâ€™s not their delusion and/or arrogance upon which I wish to focus. No, my sights are set on the erstwhile Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who sacrificed the political careers of first-term congressmen and senior members alike for the agenda she pushed through the Congress and onto the American people. She proclaims that her party didnâ€™t lose because of her, but when Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate seat that had been â€œTed Kennedyâ€™s seatâ€ for 48 years, and the White House was prepared to accept a scaled back package of bi-partisan health care reforms, who was it other than Queen Nancy of the Bay who demanded they give no quarter, and raced through the halls of Congress, oversized gavel in hand, ready to lay out any Democrat who dared to challenge her will?
The health care legislation is the poster child for the extravagant spending without focus or effect, and the intrusion of government into the lives of individual citizens, that made the American people apoplectic about their uncaring, unresponsive government. She proudly claims it as her signature achievement, so she gets to own the baggage that comes with it.
In the past, House speakers who suffered a sound defeat, in most cases less epic than this one, accepted responsibility for the loss and stepped down to make way for new leadership. Not Golden Gate Nancy! She may be delusional about her role in their defeat, but she can do the math, and now that those pesky, spineless Blue Dog Democrats are weaker by half, sheâ€™s thinking, â€œWhatâ€™s left of my ragtag bunch are people just like me!â€ The unintended consequence of the Republican landslide is that the Democrats that remain are mostly liberals from liberal districts, and they share Pelosiâ€™s delusions about their policies and the will of the people. Since the math tells her thereâ€™s more of her kind, she decides thereâ€™s no reason for her to step down from the leadership of her party, bucking centuries of decorum in the process.
Thatâ€™s not all she bucked. Steny Hoyer had already arranged to have the drapes measured in the House Minority Leaderâ€™s office when the story broke that Nancy the Frisco Kid wasnâ€™t going anywhere. Iâ€™ll bet you the language he used when he heard that little tidbit of news could have peeled paint.
Whatâ€™s a 29-year career politician who thinks he should be Speaker of the House to do? He had apparently promised not to challenge Pelosi for leadership of the party; she must have photos or something to keep him from waging the good fight for the top spot. His friend and current House majority whip, Rep. James Clyburn, is an esteemed member of the Congressional Black Caucus and under no obligation to relinquish his leadership role; in fact, under the current arrangement, he would be the 2nd most powerful Democrat in the House.
That was too much for Hoyer to bear. His arrogance wouldnâ€™t allow him to subordinate himself to Rep. Clyburn and step aside in a gesture of grace. To my mind, that was one of two honorable options, the other being to man up and challenge Pelosi on the field of battle.
Instead, he decided to challenge Rep. Clyburn for the House Minority Whip position and, since he is the House Majority Leader and has tons of favors to call in, it didnâ€™t take long for Clyburn to realize that he couldnâ€™t win. This is where arrogance gives way to submission.
There were some grumbles from Clyburn and his Congressional Black Caucus colleagues about this unexpected turn of events, and they could have chosen to stand up and fight. After all, they are supposed to be the Democratsâ€™ favored constituency, a recognition earned through their unceasing loyalty to the party and their leadership for half a century. They could have made a lot of noise, and Iâ€™ve no doubt they would have been heard.
When Her Excellency the Duchess of San Francisco spoke, however, declaring they would rename an obscure position occupied by a lesser squire, in this case Chris Van Hollen of Maryland â€“ those Maryland connections donâ€™t seem to mean squat to the former Baltimore native, do they? â€“ and create a new â€œNumber Threeâ€ role for Rep. Clyburn, what did he and the CBC do?
They rolled over and let Nancy and Steny rub their bellies like supplicant puppies. Sure, they say theyâ€™ll reserve judgment until theyâ€™ve examined what the new role entails, but the news is already trumpeting how Pelosi averted a potentially contentious battle over leadership, and Rep. Clyburn has already agreed to the idea.
Rep. Clyburn is a veteran of the civil rights movement, and he deserves honor for his courage and moral leadership during that era of great struggle and triumph. He already had the number two position in the House minority, so by surrendering it to Hoyer and stepping down to a number three position that has to be created because it doesn't exist, heâ€™s essentially being stripped of his rank. Oneâ€™s dignity is a high price to pay for party unity.
This is proof positive of what Maryland state senator Lisa Gladden of Baltimore said four years ago: "Party trumps race." She made that statement in response to the question of why black Democrats were looking the other way or joining in while Republican lieutenant governor Michael Steele, then running for the U.S. Senate, was being portrayed or pilloried in racially derogatory fashion.
When black leaders and elected officials condone racially-charged hostility against other blacks in the name of the party, like Sambo and Quimbo in Uncle Tomâ€™s Cabin beating Tom to the point of death because he refused to bend to the masterâ€™s will, why does it still disappoint and sadden me to see that all it takes to keep them loyal is a nebulous to-be-determined "leadership" role? Leadership of what? Ron Miller is a conservative writer and commentator, author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tomâ€™s Porch, and the president of Regular Folks United, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty, free markets and our nation's founding principles. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for several online sites and print publications, and his own website, TeamRonMiller.com. Join him on Facebook and Twitter.