On the first anniversary of President Bush’s second inauguration — and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Gipper’s first — I called the Democrats, “the Party of Obstruction, noting how the Democratic leadership of both the House and the Senate was eschewing constructive efforts to work with the Republican majority and uniting their caucuses to oppose the president’s initiatives. They weren’t interested in effecting any compromises with him, just blocking any proposal he put forward, merely because he had put it forward.
In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, potential Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear that should her party win control of Congress next month, she will continue this practice of obstruction. Claiming that the election is about the President and Vice President, she would be satisfied to make “them lame ducks.”
So, although the President was elected to a four-year term — and given that Pelosi claims she has taken “off the table,” she believes a Democratic majority should render him ineffective. In other words, she remains more committed to preventing the nation’s Chief Executive from accomplishing anything than in working with him to promote the national interest. No wonder she threatens “to deny plum assignments to members who vote with the Republicans.”
Contrast this with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the last Republican Speaker to serve under a Democratic President. In his two terms as Speaker (1995-99), while often at odds with Bill Clinton, that Democratic President, he and House Republicans worked with the Chief Executive to forge a consensus domestic policy, passing landmark welfare reform and balancing the federal budget.
While often derided as a vindictive partisan, Gingrich was able to overcome whatever partisan animosity he had to serve the national interest. Pelosi, however, has not indicated she has no intention of overcoming hers. She said she “was being gentle” when she “called her Republican colleagues ‘immoral’ and ‘corrupt,’ and . . . said they [were] running a criminal enterprise.”
If, in the last few days of the campaign, the GOP makes clear Pelosi’s record of obstruction, they should have no trouble building on their momentum of the past few days and holding onto the House. No wonder Mrs. Pelosi has been virtually absent from the campaign trail — in stark contrast to Newt Gingrich in 1994, the last leader of the House minority to lead his party to majority status in mid-term elections.