It had to happen. It was just a matter of time before someone, somewhere in the Democratic party would trip up and provide the GOP with the kind of controversial fodder they've been fantasizing about. And to Republicans, the Nancy Pelosi saga this week is the stuff partisan dreams are made of.
Seems House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can't remember being briefed by the CIA back in the Fall of 2002 about the specific use of torture on terror suspects in U.S. custody, in particular the technique known as waterboarding. Yeah, she remembers meeting with the spy agency, but claims waterboarding never came up. The issue here is that Pelosi's been very critical of the Bush administration's use of the illegal torture tactic, so it's important to know if in fact she knew it was taking place and when. Adding to the complexity of this mess is the fact that she's admitted to knowing about it through briefings just 6 months later, but kept quiet because she felt "powerless" being in the Democratic minority at that time. That is perhaps the most lame excuse since "the dog ate my homework."
I'm no fan of Pelosi. I think she's terrible as the face of House Democrats. She's shrill, combative and speaks like a teenager trying to explain why she's late for class. There are some people who project sincerity and integrity, but Pelosi's just the opposite. She comes across as a duplicitous partisan hack. A female Tom Delay, yet lacking the gravitas and efficiency. Whereas Delay was ruthless and resolute, Pelosi's simply an ineffective trainwreck. If she's found to be lying about what the CIA told her and when--current and former CIA Directors Leon Panetta and Porter Goss respectively claim she in fact was briefed in 2002 about the waterboarding of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah--then she should be prosecuted along with Bush, former VP Dick Cheney and everyone else who authorized the use of illegal torture tactics.
But let me stop being the objective Democrat for a second and acknowledge the orgasmic excitement rippling through the Republican Party right now over the Pelosi saga, which right-wing radio and TV host Sean Hannity said is "blossoming into a Watergate like cover up and scandal." On his radio program, a near-hyperventilating Hannity repeats the mantra "what did she know and when did she know it" every three minutes, literally.
Really Sean? Watergate? That Pelosi may have lied about being briefed on the illegal torture tactics being used by the opposing party which then-controlled the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court is of the same scale and magnitude as the President of the United States authorizing a burglary of the opposing party's headquarters in an effort to rig a presidential election and then covering-up this illegal act? You see Sean, this is why no one takes Republicans seriously, and why you guys can't get elected anymore.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has moved front and center in his harsh criticism of Pelosi:
"I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I've seen in my lifetime...I think Speaker Pelosi's in enormous trouble. I think that lying to the country on national security matters and lying to the House is a very, very dangerous thing to have done."
And if it's one thing Gingrich is an expert on it's lying. Just ask his first wife, on whom he cheated while she lay suffering from cancer. What's more "despicable, dishonest and vicious" than that? But when it comes to politics, Gingrich, like many other high-ranking Republicans, suffers from selective memory and blatant double-standards.
Note to Newt: Bush and Cheney lied to America for eight years about national security matters, and perpetrated countless war crimes, and have yet to be punished. Wanna talk about what's truly dangerous? How about lying about WMD and terrorist connections so you can justify invading Iraq, which has resulted in 4300 U.S. troop deaths and tens of thousands of other fatalities, not to mention the hundreds of thousands maimed and wounded. Where's your self-righteous outrage on all that, Newt? Spare us the sanctimony. And be careful what you wish for. Just as the unprecedented personal war you and your band of 1990's 'revolutionaries' waged on Bill Clinton forever changed the tenor of politics and backfired massively on Republicans, so too shall the Pelosi Crucifixion.
It's actually fun to watch and listen as Republicans sink their teeth into the Pelosi scandal. They're a beaten, battered, disenchanted, delusional lot who see Pelosi's foot-in-mouth disease as their ticket back to power. As if the alleged actions of one Democrat is enough to bring down the entire party in the 2010 midterms. Forget the fact that, even if it's true that she lied, who gives a shit? is this really a story? Again, if she lied, she should be punished. And if the Obama administration eventually prosecutes those who knew of and/or authorized illegal torture tactics, then she too should be prosecuted. But the bigger story here, the real story, for Pete's-sake, is how these blood-thirsty Republicans seem to be forgetting just what the hell Pelosi may have been lying about in the first place.
While right-wing stooges like Gingrich, Minority Leader John Boehner and Hannity would love to divert all the attention onto Pelosi, the real scandal isn't about what she knew, but whether a United States president, vice president and their legal advisors cooked the books so that America could commit illegal acts of torture. What these disingenuous Republicans need to understand, through their shouts of "prosecute Pelosi," is that if she goes down, so do Bush, Cheney and the rest of the torture-mongers who conceived of and perpetrated these "enhanced interrogation techniques." Pelosi's crime, one of stupidity perhaps, pales by comparison.