It is understood when I go to Cary on Sunday mornings to visit with honorary grandson Ayden, 3 years old, that the television goes off when he gets up and comes downstairs and says, "Pops, juice please!" or more urgently, "Pops, I gotta go potty." Alas, last Sunday he slept in and the television stayed on for a CBS "Sunday Morning" profile of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. I wish he'd been an early riser.
Further research following the broadcast from a number of other sources merely confirmed the bottom line demonstrated by the story. For Republicans and conservatives, Speaker Pelosi's picture is the one in every one of their cross hairs in this election. She is to them Big Evil, and to support her or even defend her is to dance with the Devil himself. (Or in the view of some, herself.)
Sure, some of these critics make Ronald Reagan look like Ted Kennedy. But as this nastiest of campaign seasons moves along, mainstream Republicans and even a few Democrats are increasingly treating the speaker as if she were an infectious disease.
Republicans want every Democratic member of Congress in the country to come down with it, to be known as a friend of Nancy Pelosi. And you have the feeling that many of those Democrats would, if they could get away with it, respond to accusations of being associated with Pelosi with, "Pelosi? Rings a bell, but I don't know her. Is she in the House? Hmmm ... I'm just in the district most of the time, you know, representing the people with my conservative values. Here, lemme have that baby so I can give him a kiss and tell him about my tax-cutting plan."
The high point or low point of Pelosi-hating may have been reached when one person interviewed briefly by "Sunday Morning" reckoned that Pelosi was the "worst American leader since Benedict Arnold."
Surely, I thought, he must have studied her life story and found, if not an attempt to surrender West Point to the British, at the least clear evidence of her traitorous ways. Being a student of history and what'all, your correspondent decided to look closely at Pelosi's record in order to be ready, when the times comes, to prosecute her for treason and help President Obama exile her to Europe, which is where that sorry rascal Arnold spent his waning days.
Here is some of what that search revealed:
1. She's consistently supported raising the minimum wage.
2. She's supported defense appropriations bills and others to help the men and women in the U.S. armed forces everywhere in the world.
3. She favored extending children's health insurance and unemployment benefits.
4. She's voted for virtually every law aimed at cleaning up air and water.
5. She supported No Child Left Behind and has consistently backed more help for public education.
6. She was all for a national AMBER alert system for kids.
7. She backed reform of campaign financing to lessen the influence of special interest money.
8. She talks constantly about expanding and protecting Medicare and Social Security.
9. When some House Democrats talked about impeaching President Bush, she said no.
10. She backed the president on health care reform so all Americans could get it and afford it.
Friends, it's a wonder she's not in prison already. Clearly these are the positions of a big-government liberal. Clean air, Social Security, Medicare? There's no telling what's next for Comrade Pelosi. She'll probably start talking about all that civil liberties foolishness and the need to regulate the big banks more so that the Wall Streeters can't have their well-earned eight-figure bonuses even after they drive us all to the brink. Stomping all over free enterprise!
Then there's the other view. That maybe some people don't like Nancy Pelosi because she happens to be a woman in a powerful position. (No precedent for that? Does the name Hillary Clinton ring a bell?) That maybe in this election year there's no room at some tables for those politicians who aren't prepared to limit themselves to tea.
So here's the real bottom line. The Republicans ought to stand up for what they believe and make their arguments for their candidates based on what they will do and how they will do it and how they will safeguard freedom and improve the lives of the American people. The Democrats need to quick worrying about their extreme critics and running scared from Nancy Pelosi and do the same.
Sure, things will work out. But it's going to be another 32 years before Ayden is elected president.