Are the reporters on Capitol Hill as scrappy as the White House press corps? Apparently not. In the "Yeas and Nays" gossip column in the Washington Examiner, Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin report CBS's normally Bush-stalking Jim Axelrod threw a hardball at Nancy Pelosi and she was shocked, shocked that anyone could be so rude. (Axelrod, of course, came at the Speaker from the hard left.) It was so shocking a Pelosi spokesman suggested "I don't think she's ever accused a journalist of bias before."
CBS White House reporter Jim Axelrod mentioned to Pelosi that, come November 2008, the number of American troops in Iraq likely will be the same as in November 2006, when Democrats were swept into power. Then, he asked, "How do you view your stewardship of Congress as anything other than a failure to make the president change course?"
Pelosi was instantly taken aback. "What a lovely objective question on the part of the press!" she remarked.
Axelrod later told Yeas & Nays, "I knew immediately that she didn’t like it."
So off-base was the question in the eyes of both Pelosi and Reid that the Senate majority leader had to butt in. "Madam Speaker, I can’t stand here without defending you," he said, but Pelosi would have none of it.
"You don’t have to defend me," she told Reid. (It’s a woman’s world on Capitol Hill nowadays, Mr. Leader, and don’t you forget it.)
Pelosi did respond to the question, saying she’ll take credit insofar as "the Democratic majority in the Congress has changed the debate on Iraq in this country, and we will hold the administration accountable time and time again for their conduct of this war."
Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly later told Yeas & Nays that the tone of Axelrod’s question was what took the speaker by surprise. "I don’t think she’s ever accused a journalist of bias before," Daly said. "The tone of it and the way he asked it was, how shall we say, unusual." Daly added that, following the conference, Pelosi was eager to find out the identity and affiliation of Axelrod, and why he would have asked such a question.
But Axelrod stands by his question. "It’s a completely fair question," he said. "It’s a question a lot of people in her base have been asking."
Both Daly and Axelrod chalk it up to politics as usual. "Politics is a contact sport," Daly said. "This is part of the game."
When asked whether he was surprised to be accused of bias, Axelrod laughed and said, "Come on, I work at the White House! ... She’s entitled to her reaction, and I’m entitled to ask that question."
This would seem to underline that the Speaker's not used to that very White House-y kind of questioning. She's used to network anchors warbling about her place in history.