The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Stand in Awe of the Power of Delusion


Two notes from today’s Morning Jolt, the first under Speaker Boehner . . .

From Nancy the Fancy to Boehner the Saner

No matter what you think of John Boehner, there was a nice note to his opening remarks as Speaker of the House: sometimes, less is more. This applies to government regulations as well as to grandiose rhetoric.

In the Corner, Tevi Troy was ebullient: “Speaker John Boehner’s (I love writing that) speech today hit all of the right notes in focusing on humility and transparency, which have been characteristics sorely lacking among recent congressional leaders. Going forward, Speaker Boehner (I still love writing that) needs to maintain those perspectives, but also demonstrate that he is serious, in two important ways. First, he must be serious about governing the country in an adult fashion, which could include clamping down irresponsible rhetoric on the part of some of his members. Second, he must show that he is serious about addressing the budgetary and fiscal concerns of the American people, and the Tea Partiers in particular, who helped him earn his new title.”

At Hot Air, even the congenital pessimist Allahpundit was fairly cheery: “NRO has the transcript but, at just 10 minutes or so, it’s worth watching if you can spare the time. Whether this is just Boehner being Boehner or whether he’s deliberately being low-key to signal a new era of modest government (in every sense of the word), it’s effective enough that even lefty Ezra Klein felt obliged to call it ‘as smart a speech as I’ve seen a politician give.’ What strikes me about it is that in substance it sounds a lot like Obama circa 2008 on the trail — process reforms, new day in Washington, disagreeing without being disagreeable, etc — but in tone it’s the opposite of messianic. Klein, in fact, notes that Boehner responded to Republican applause at one point with, ‘It’s still just me.’ Imagine that line coming from The One. The fact that a speech like this might accurately be said to have captured the political moment shows just how far we are from Inauguration Day 2009.”

Charlotte Hays couldn’t get past the opening act: “As usual, Nancy Pelosi stole the show — and reminded us why we are very, very glad that she is no longer Speaker of the House. Pelosi went on so long before giving the stage to John Boehner that surely I wasn’t the only person yearning to see a shepherd’s crook yank her off. The manic smile added a truly weird dimension. Is Nancy Pelosi really human?”

Is Pelosi really human? Of course she is . . . probably. But there’s something revealing about the Pelosi mindset, and I don’t know whether her approach and what she’s achieved represents a triumph of positive thinking or the value of a serious psychological inability to acknowledge her own flaws or negative feedback. She insisted Obamacare would create hundreds of thousands of jobs almost immediately. She insisted the Democrats would keep the House. She insisted that even after a historic loss, she should continue to lead her party in the chamber. And Wednesday afternoon, she felt that this was the moment to recite all of the joys of the legislation passed by all the folks that the lawmakers in front of her defeated. As far as we can tell, she doesn’t feel regret, doubt, hesitation, or guilt. Given hours of time to argue with her, we probably could never persuade her that her time as Speaker included any errors or missteps or promotion of any ideas opposed by a majority of the American people. Sure, she’s delusional. But maybe those delusions are what make her able to do what she does.

Tags: Nancy Pelosi


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