This is a tale of two Times. One Times, the one in New York, pretty much provided cover for Nancy Pelosi's highly partisan speech as a cause for the failure of the bailout bill to pass in Congress. The other Times, the one in London, gave an accurate analysis on how Pelosi's partisan rant caused the bailout bill to fail. First we have the New York Times, in an article written by Jackie Calmes, placing most of the blame for the bill's failure to pass on "evil" Republicans (emphasis mine):
From the White House to Congress to the presidential campaign trail, the principal players did not rally the votes they needed in the House. They appeared not to comprehend or address in a convincing way an intense strain of opposition to the deal among voters. They allowed partisan politics to flare at sensitive moments.
If there was any doubt that President Bush had been left politically impotent by his travails over the last few years and his lame-duck status, it was erased on Monday when, despite his personal pleas, more than two-thirds of the Republicans in the House abandoned the plan.
See, it was those wascally Republicans. Blame them despite the fact that Pelosi allowed 40 percent of her own Democrats to also vote against it. All she needed was just 12 more Democrat votes for it to pass. And the insultingly partisan speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Calmes wants us to believe that instead of her being incredibly undiplomatic at a time when Pelosi needed to rally support for the bill, the speech was just used by Republicans as an excuse not to vote for the bailout bill:
Representative John A. Boehner, the House Republican leader, became emotional as he urged his party to muster the will to approve the package. After his members overwhelmingly voted against it, he tried to shift the blame to a partisan speech delivered on the floor just before the vote by Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker.
Ms. Pelosi delivered the Democratic votes she had promised, but could not muster enough of them to avert a defeat that could long be remembered.
The assertion here is that Pelosi did her part by delivering the "Democratic votes she had promised." Left unsaid was the okay she gave to her Democrat allies that they could vote against the bill because she had enough Republicans, which she alienated with her partisan attack speech, lined up to vote for the bill. For the rest of this story on the failure of this bailout bill to pass, Nancy Pelosi's name is removed to the New York Times memory hole.
To get a much more accurate analysis on why this bailout bill failed, we must hop across to pond where the UK Times presents a much less biased picture detailing the incredible lack of basic political skills by Nancy Pelosi which helped lead to the bill's failure to pass:
It was perhaps the costliest ad lib in political history, 90 seconds of ill-judged, ill-timed bile that helped to kill off any hope of consensus on Capitol Hill.
Your humble correspondent believes the "ill-timed bile" lasted for quite a bit longer than just 90 seconds but I won't quibble over this otherwise accurate point.
That was the charge against Nancy Pelosi after Congress’s rejection of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan yesterday, a rejection that Republicans blamed directly on her aggressive and overtly partisan speech shortly before the vote.
As Speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency after Dick Cheney, the most powerful woman in US political history has never been one to keep her thoughts to herself. Even at a time of national crisis she can be relied on to have a dig at President Bush.
But as she deviated from her prepared remarks on the floor of the House yesterday, Ms Pelosi appears to have gone too far. At a time of heightened sensitivities all around, she deployed the C-word — Clinton — and helped to give a group of Republicans the excuse they were waiting for to walk away from the bailout.
Ms Pelosi started off by stating the obvious: that $700 billion was a “staggering figure”, a figure that had prompted a “very informed debate on all sides” of which she, as Speaker, was duly proud.
But that was as far as her evenhandedness went. She was not going to let this moment go without making clear who she felt was to blame for this whole mess.
Picking up on the size of the bailout package again, Ms Pelosi said: “Seven hundred billion dollars: a staggering number, but only a part of the cost of the failed Bush economic policies to our country, policies that were built on budget recklessness.
“When President Bush took office he inherited President Clinton's surpluses — four years in a row, budget surpluses on a trajectory of $5.6 trillion in surplus. And with his reckless economic policies within two years he had turned that around and now eight years later the foundation of that fiscal irresponsibility, combined with an anything-goes economic policy, has taken us to where we are today.
“They claim to be be free-market advocates when it’s really an anything-goes mentality: no regulation, no supervision, no discipline. And if you fail you will have a golden parachute and the taxpayer will bail you out. Those days are over. The party is over in that respect.”
She added: “Democrats believe in a free market. We know that it can create jobs, it can create wealth, it can create many good things in our economy. But in this case, in its unbridled form as encouraged, supported by the Republicans — some in the Republican Party, not all — it has created not jobs, not capital, it has created chaos.”
Kudos to the UK Times for publishing Nancy Pelosi's actual words. Something the New York Times failed to do in its analysis on why the bailout bill failed.
Roy Blunt, a House Republican whip, said that party leaders had thought that they had a dozen more votes going to the floor than they actually had but there was “so much partisan discussion in what should have been a bipartisan effort to solve this problem for the American people”.
Ms Pelosi herself, predictably enough, rejected any suggestion that she was to blame for the defeat of the bailout. “You don’t vote on the speech, you vote on the Bill,” an aide said.
And there is a time to be diplomatic and a time to let loose with partisan rants. When you are the Speaker of the House trying to whip up votes from the opposition party, it just does not seem the proper time to let loose with a divisive partisan rant. Something the New York Times conveniently overlooked but which the UK Times accurately pointed out as a cause for this bailout bill's failure to pass.