NY Times Panders Over 'Vital' Nancy Pelosi, Victim of Personal Republican Attacks

March 7th, 2015 8:42 PM

A gushing profile of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in Saturday's New York Times captured reporter Jennifer Steinhauer's typical Democratic slant: "Through It All, Pelosi Keeps House Democrats Moving In One Direction."

The photo caption under a flattering shot of Pelosi sitting for the Times in her office included this gratuitous slam at House Speaker John Boehner: "Her lasting authority distinguishes her from her Republican counterpart."

After first being compared to Brett Favre and Cher, Pelosi was sympathetically portrayed by Steinhauer as an underestimated politician "positioned to play vital role for President Obama" and suffering endless personal attacks by Republicans:

The quarterback Brett Favre has long retired. Cher shut down her most recent tour. Representative Nancy Pelosi -- repeatedly written off and derided since her party lost the House in 2010 -- powers on.

Ms. Pelosi, 74, maintains unwavering control over Democratic members of the House on legislation -- in contrast to the House speaker, John A. Boehner, who continues to struggle with his cacophonous caucus -- and she may be a surprisingly vital tool for the White House at the end of President Obama’s tenure.

Her lasting authority was demonstrated this week when she helped pass a measure from the Senate to avoid yet another government shutdown. That vote “strengthened our hand,” Ms. Pelosi said, a sentiment that many Republicans, who are eager to show that they can effectively govern, agree with, teeth clenched.

On the same day that she helped the vote to fund the Department of Homeland Security sail through the House thanks to Democratic support, Ms. Pelosi, the minority leader, served as the embodiment of White House rage over a speech by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to a joint meeting of Congress.

As Mr. Netanyahu spoke, Ms. Pelosi fulminated on the House floor. She reignited her critics, who said her response was impolite at best, and they took the sorts of personal shots at her that have long marked her tenure. (Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina apologized for making a crack about her age.)

Steinhauer relegates Pelosi's liberalism to the very end of a single sentence, before reveling in Pelosi's mastery of her caucus:

First, she told her members to reject a measure favored by House Republicans to fund the department for three weeks. Then she told them to pass a one-week measure as a bridge to yet another bill that the Senate passed to finance the department through the rest of the fiscal year. The House then quietly passed the full-year bill that Ms. Pelosi wanted after a week of bluster.

Steinhauer found nothing even potentially pathetic in Pelosi's emotional, angry, amateurish response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress warning of the dangers of a nuclear Iran.

Ms. Pelosi’s other big moment last week came in her angry protest against Mr. Netanyahu’s speech, which began with her privately fuming at Mr. Boehner for inviting him, and her remarks about what she said was condescension from the Israeli leader. Mr. Netanyahu’s warnings about nuclear weapons were not needed, she said, even though Republicans “applauded their alleged hearts out, well, take out alleged,” she fumed.

The speech, which enraged the Obama administration, almost made her cry, she said. “That was significant to me that she chose to say that, because in the four years I worked for her I only saw her choke up once,” said Ellen Qualls, who served as a senior adviser during Ms. Pelosi’s speakership. The only other time she saw her choke up, she said, was during the Tea Party movement against a health care overhaul, when threats of violence were made against lawmakers and the president.

Such adulation for Democrats isn't new for Steinhauer, and neither is her hostility toward Republican figures.

She celebrated Michelle Obama's 50th birthday in a January 2014 profile, gushing (without even the spur of snagging an interview with the first lady) that "Michelle Obama is in many ways the embodiment of the contemporary, urban, well-heeled middle-aged American woman....The mix of Hollywood and quirky individualism (American caterers, ready yourself for the onslaught of dessert-and-cocktails-only party requests) underscores the conflicting diptych of glamorous mystery woman and regular PTA mother that defines America’s first lady."

But when it comes to prominent conservatives, Steinhauer snarls. She managed to be both shallow and hostile in a June 2014 profile of former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

The only thing that John R. Bolton has tamed is his mustache.... In the 1990s, Mr. Bolton, whose sea-otter mustache has come down a bit in recent years, famously said that several floors of the United Nations headquarters could be lopped off without being missed. His searing view of that international body, as well as questions about both his temperament and his worldview while he was under secretary for arms control and international security in the State Department, led to his failure to be confirmed to the United Nations post by the Senate....As expected, Mr. Bolton took a hard line on Iran and North Korea and was known for an abrasive style."