House majority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has figured out the real reason behind the GOP’s opposition to President Obama’s policies. “He has been . . . open, practically apolitical, certainly nonpartisan, in terms of welcoming every idea and solution,” she told Mike Allen during an interview for Politico’s “Behind the Curtain” series. ”I think that’s one of the reasons the Republicans want to take him down politically, because they know he is a nonpartisan president, and that’s something very hard for them to cope with.”
She might be onto something. Obama did, for example, show signs of his apolitical, nonpartisan approach to politics during his White House address on Monday to mark the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis. Yes, he was very critical of House Republicans; and yes, he went ahead with the speech even though the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., was still an active crime scene. But he did rather graciously concede that, within the Republican party, “there are a number of folks out there who I think are decent folks [and] genuinely want to see the economy grow and want what’s best for the American people.”
Obama’s willingness to transcend partisanship isn’t the only reason Republican dislike the president, Pelosi argued. “He’s brilliant, he has a vision for our country, he’s brilliant, has knowledge of the issues, and judgement about what the right path would be,” she said. ”And he’s completely eloquent. That’s a package that they don’t like.”
Pelosi continued, with some degree of eloquence: “They know that he can take this country to a place that is not only about survival for people — which is where he pulled us out from — not only about success for many more people, but transformative in terms of the opportunity for entrepreneurial thinking, and many more young people involved in how we lift people up, rather than being wedded to the status quo.”
Republicans hate Obama for the same reason they hated Clinton — “because of his upbringing and his personal story of success, and the rest — although he had the Ivy league and the Georgetown and Ivy League education, he wasn’t rooted where most of the former presidents came from.” This might also explain Republicans’ deeply held distrust of Eureka College graduate Ronald Reagan.
According to Pelosi, Obama is a strong leader because “he has shown that he is willing to take actions that are not necessarily popular.” She might have been referring to his courageous desire to implement Obamacare despite widespread public disapproval of his signature law, or his bold decision to intervene in Syria (just prior to his bold decision not to intervene, in the face of widespread public disapproval).
With respect to Syria, Pelosi explained that she, as a progressive Democratic, could sympathize with the president’s dilemma. “It’s really hard, because we have a responsibility that is different from an advocacy position,” she said. ”But I have confidence that these things ebb and flow, and that the president — I think he’s in a strong position. He has — what are some of the issues that people are concerned about? Use of force in Syria? He believes in it, he’s doing it.” It was not immediately clear whether Pelosi was breaking news in regard to the U.S. military’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Pelosi defended another tough call the president recently made – cancelling the annual congressional picnic at the White House. It was a “disappointing” decision, to be sure. On the other hand — George Bush, she explained. “In some ways, President Bush was a lovely person, and I had a good rapport with him. But we wanted to end the war in Iraq, he wouldn’t even talk about it,” Pelosi said. “I think not communicating on the war in Iraq is a lot different than canceling the family picnic.”
Pelosi even flashed some of her legendary sense of humor while discussing the GOP’s continuing resolution that would also defund Obamacare, which passed the House on Friday. “I call it the tea-party continuing resolution, because they are obviously driving the ship,” she joked.
When asked about the Democratic party’s prospects for retaking the House in 2014, Pelosi was suprisingly tentative. “We can,” she said. “We can win back the House. I’ll know a little bit better in a couple more months.”
Despite being in the minority for the past few years, Pelosi said she has “not ever felt irrelevant,” but also that she would “rather feel less relevant.” Most Republicans would probably agree.