When one blogger caught the unhappy Barney Frank lying about his record and trying to “to re-write history with respect to the role he played in helping enable the collapse of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” I wrote:
In the past, he could get away with it because the media watchdogs, ever eager to pounce at the slightest Republican indiscretion, gave Democrats a pass whenever they misrepresented their own record. . . . It seems that Barney is living in a pre-YouTube world where . . . the MSM would be little likely to dig around into [a Democrat’s] past statements to corroborate or contradict his present claims.
Seems the woman the Massachusetts Democrat helped elected as House Speaker has not realized how new media have transformed the political landscape. She seemed entirely unprepared for anyone to challenge her recollections of her past actions and knowledge.
Simply put, she thought she could get away with misrepresenting the record probably because she assumed the MSM was behind the real goal–“getting” George W. Bush and his “minions.”
Perhaps, she assumed the Administration, equally eager (in her mind) to undermine its Republican predecessors, would back her up on this. But, she ran into the fundamental decency of the man the President tapped to head the Central Intelligence Agency. While a partisan Democrat, Leon Panetta is also an honest man who plays fair with the opposition.
“Getting” Republicans (and by extension, holding onto power) has not been the driving force of Panetta’s political career, rather it’s been governing, albeit in a liberal fashion.
Perhaps because he is a fellow partisan and they served together as part of the California delegation in Congress, Pelosi thought he’d vouch for her. Instead, as Nina Easton put it, he “threw her an anchor.”
I believe that was in part because he wouldn’t lie or otherwise deceive even to protect a fellow Democrat. Some have speculated that Panetta may have been acting at the behest of the Administration. Asking what White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel knew about the letter the CIA Director wrote on Friday defending his agency against Pelosi’s accusations, Bill Kristol wonders if the White House wants a “chastened Pelosi” as Speaker or seeks to replace her with someone else.
Whatever the case, if Pelosi were expecting the White House and Administration to back her up out of partisan loyalty, her fellow Democrats did not come through. They may just be trying to cut their losses, realizing that the truth would come out and did not want to be seen as defending a dishonest Democrat (so tying the President to her lies), particularly because this story is not going away.
How does she do that, exactly? Well, I suppose she could say, “I made a mistake; I was told about waterboarding.” But that’s not really an option if she wants to preserve the patina of political respectability. I guess she could say again what she did on Friday which is, in effect: “Well, when I said the CIA lied, I didn’t mean the CIA was lying. I meant Bush lied.” So far that hasn’t flown and Republicans, the Sunday talk shows, the mainstream media and, come to think of it, Mark Penn are all still buzzing about it.
In short, Nancy Pelosi has put herself in a pickle. As long as she remains in power, she hurts her party, helping further its erosion. She wouldn’t be where she is if she had not been to eager to undermine the former Administration. And if she had appreciated the changes in the media landscape and the decency of one of her former congressional colleagues.