Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pelosi blunders on ?


By PAT MURPHY

Nancy Pelosi is stumbling into her job as the first woman speaker of the U.S. House. Oh, what grist for Republicans.

Her latest: Show biz consultant Ken Sunshine, whose client roster includes Barbra Streisand, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, and Ben Affleck, will stage manage a mini-extravaganza to celebrate Rep. Pelosi's investiture, a way to promote the Democratic Party's "new face."

It's a "face," however, other Democrats should find revolting for lack of humility and brimming with Pelosi's signature self-glorifying vanity.

Singer Tony Bennett will coo "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" for her at dinner in the Italian Embassy. She'll be feted in hometown Baltimore, where her father, Thomas D'Alesandro, and brother John, were mayors, and where a street will be named for her. Then on to other receptions featuring singers Jimmy Buffet and Carole King, among others.

This vanity tour is another Pelosi blunder. With taxpayers drained of $2 billion a week for a war they utterly despise and American GIs dying in a war their stubborn president can't win, Pelosi could've used her highly publicized swearing-in to strike an all-business, let's-get-to-work humility rather than a round of glitzy parties and champagne toasts with show biz regulars. Pelosi wasn't even elected by the public vote, just picked by Democratic House colleagues.

Defenders will retort: Men celebrate. Oh? Does Pelosi plan to be one of the boys simply perpetuating the model of pompous Republican indifference to public concerns that voters rejected on Nov. 7?

Pelosi has a tin ear for common sense. Her catty vindictiveness denying fellow California Rep. Jane Harman the deserved Intelligence committee chairmanship was a major boo-boo, forcing Pelosi to abandon her incredible choice, Rep. Alcee Hastings, a onetime Florida federal judge impeached and ousted from the bench for bribery. Then, her attempt to make anti-war critic Rep. John Murtha the majority leader was equally stupid: Colleagues rejected Murtha and picked the popular, deserving Rep. Steny Hoyer, who, incidentally, will celebrate his new majority leader title with a small office reception, not a fete. (News reporters also are beginning to unearth embarrassing new details of Murtha's coziness with lobbyists.)

These gambits have made Pelosi a caricature of the Dragon Lady, the witchy, scheming, cold-blooded villainess in cartoonist Milton Caniff's strip, "Terry and the Pirates."

Pelosi's "new face" for Democrats is more like the face Marie Antoinette gave France. With a multi-millionaire husband paying for haute-couture clothes, inaugural events taking on the air of a royal coronation and her icy revenge on those she dislikes, Pelosi should be known as The Empress.




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