I want to quickly address the concerns raised by Andy and Jack.
I have never been one who has argued that “bipartisanship” should trump one’s principles and, in fact, I have often raised exactly that concern as it relates to those who believe bipartisanship is a panacea. Bipartisanship is a means, not an end; and its merits depend on the end it is advancing. Bipartisanship in the name of advancing liberty and justice is a wonderful thing. Bipartisanship as a guise to retreat and surrender in the Iraq war is an awful thing. The question always ought to be: Bipartisanship toward what end?
Nor do I buy into the argument that we should accept that the standard in this particular case is “doing something is more important than doing the right thing.” One should always try to do the right thing. In this instance, responsible people have argued whether the “right thing” is to approve the bailout/rescue plan or not. If you believe on principle that it’s wrong and approving the legislation would do more damage than voting it down, fine; make your case. If you believe that the legislation, while flawed and difficult to swallow, would lead to a better outcome than having the legislation fail, again, fine; make your case.
But to say that your Members were going to vote one way on a bill that all sides concede was enormously consequential and that you altered your vote simply because (surprise) Nancy Pelosi gave a stupid, irresponsible, and partisan speech strikes me as, well, silly and adolescent.
I rather doubt it is news to any House Republicans that Ms. Pelosi – for whom I stated, and am always happy to restate, my profound distaste – would try to use this vote to advance her party’s interest and injure Republicans. So that information was not really new. If Republicans went into the vote assuming that Pelosi would dial down her efforts to defeat Republicans in November in exchange for their “yes” vote on this particular legislation, then they are terribly naïve.
My point was a simple one: I understand why principled free market conservatives like Mike Pence would vote against the legislation. I understand why principled free market conservative like Paul Ryan would reluctantly vote for the legislation. But to admit that on a vote of this magnitude, Nancy Pelosi’s bitter, petty speech caused a dozen members to change their position is, I think, a mistake, and an embarrassment. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that I don’t think Pelosi should be embarrassed. As I pointed out in my original post, she should, for this and for much else. But so should those who hid behind “the speech made me do it” excuse. It doesn’t work, not on an issue and a vote of this importance.