- - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, is, in a word, a mess.

But let’s pause for one moment to do something we almost never do: Offer a few words of praise for Mrs. Pelosi, born Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro in 1940. The Italian-American has spent nearly her whole life in politics, first as a 20-year member of the Democratic National Committee from California, then as the state party’s chairman.

She first won election to the House in 1987 — when Ronald Reagan was president — and she’s been there ever since. In 2002, after working her way to the top, Mrs. Pelosi was elected speaker of the House, the first woman ever to helm a national party in the august chamber.

It cannot be denied that Mrs. Pelosi has devoted her life to public service, and that (at least) is a noble cause.

Now, the bad news. She’s done — she’s past done. Her ever-growing list of verbal blunders is far too long to catalog here, and the 77-year-old seems more and more out of touch with regular Americans (dubbing the recent tax cuts by President Trump — which amounts to thousands of dollars for many people — “crumbs” is just the latest example).

Worse, Mrs. Pelosi seems to keep coming up with new ways to embarrass herself.

Like this week, for example. Mrs. Pelosi, like most Democrats, is freaked out by the House vote on Monday to release a four-page GOP memo alleging that the FBI and Justice Department illegally spied on the Trump campaign in 2016.

That same day, she got into a heated argument with Chris Cuomo, an anchor at Dem-friendly CNN. When asked about the damning memo, she called the document a “total misrepresentation” and said it should be reviewed by intelligence officials before it is made public.

At one point, Mr. Cuomo asked Mrs. Pelosi why FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has not objected to the release of the document if it’s so awful. Mrs. Pelosi lost it. “Let me just say this with all due respect: You really don’t know what you’re talking about right now,” she spat at Mr. Cuomo, then proceeded to stammer and stutter through a list of weak reasons why the memo should not be released.

That’s been the strategy of top Democrats throughout: Argue that the memo, produced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, and his staff, is highly partisan and cannot be understood if viewed without the massive supporting documentation.

Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, last week said Congress cannot release the memo because the American public won’t be able to understand it. “Well, because the American people, unfortunately, don’t have the underlying materials and therefore they can’t see how distorted and misleading this document is,” Mr. Schiff said. “The Republicans are not saying ‘Make the underlying materials available to the public.’ “

But the memo likely will go public soon. In an effort to distract, Mrs. Pelosi said on CNN that its contents are all part of a “cover-up.”

“I think [House Speaker Paul D. Ryan] has a major responsibility and what I call a cover-up of what they are doing, it’s really very sad,” Mrs. Pelosi said in the CNN interview. “But again, it’s a cover-up, it’s a distraction. What really we are trying to do right now is keep government open. They have a problem with that because they are ineffective.”

And as she politicized the GOP effort to get to the bottom of the matter, she said, “This is not to be politicized. It’s not about making up a false memo.”

Republicans, meanwhile, say the American people can make up their own minds. They argue that the memo details clear evidence of an anti-Trump bias both at the Justice Department and within special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s supposed interference in the 2016 election.

Were the memo not so bad for Democrats — perhaps even good news — Mrs. Pelosi would no doubt be pushing for transparency and openness in government. Instead, she’s insisting Americans are too dumb to understand the memo — which is all a lie and a cover-up, anyway.

We’d say that takes the cake, but Pelosi’s bound to open her mouth again very soon, and who knows what embarrassing thing she’s going to utter next.

As Mrs. Pelosi said: “It’s really very sad.”

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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