Pelosi column

The deep, dark secret of politics:
They’re all just people

BUSH: Is this movie gonna be called “George and Alexandra”; is that the name of this movie?
PELOSI: I don’t know. What do you think it should be called?
BUSH: Uhh… I don’t know — “Geourneys with George?” Pretty good one, huh? You can spell it with a G?
PELOSI: G, yeah! (laughs)

CONSIDER this to be a last kind word before the madness begins. OK, so it’s already started. But it’s never too late for a kind word.
    Joe Biden’s been hanging out here a year or two. I’m not sure John McCain ever left in 2000. We’ve seen Christopher Dodd, Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Tom Vilsack. I haven’t actually seen Bill Richardson, but he spoke to one of my colleagues on the phone, so I know he’s thinking about us. Mitt Romney was here last Wednesday. Then Barack Obama on Friday and Saturday, and the other media darling, Hillary Clinton, Monday.
    Rudy Giuliani today, ex-Gov. Romney back on Thursday, and some guy named Duncan Hunter Friday.
    With 18 contenders between the two major parties, I know I’m forgetting somebody. Oh, yeah — John Edwards was down in Charleston the other day, and his experience was a good example of the madness I’m talking about.
    He came to talk about health care. The State’s reporter actually wrote about that. But the traveling press corps only wanted to know about a couple of kids he had hired to blog for him. Really. Not that it was in any way important, but that was The Story of the Day, as decreed by 24-hour cable TV “news” and the always-on-message partisan blogs.
    Brace yourself for a lot of this. Gather your strength. Sit back, relax. Rent a movie, and watch it. Specifically, this one: “Journeys with George,” a documentary about George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign for president, made by Nancy Pelosi’s daughter.
    No, really, it’s good. I was worried, too. I had ordered it from Netflix in late November, thinking it was something I ought to see. Then I let it sit on top of the TV until last week.
    Bush according to Pelosi, I thought each night. Too much like work. Tired. Watch “House” episode for third time instead.
    I broke down last week, at the behest of one of my daughters. Two minutes into it, I called another daughter who was upstairs, told her she had to see this, and started it over. It was that good.
    What was so good about it? Well, certainly not the production values. It was shot with a camcorder by Alexandra Pelosi as a home movie of her year as an NBC producer, traveling with the Texas governor as he sought the presidency. You’ve seen YouTube? Like that, only longer.
    What was good about it was that everybody in the film came across as a human being. If you don’t find that surprising, you need a quick unreality check: Put this down, watch a couple of hours of TV “news,” then visit a few of the more popular blogs.
    See what I mean?
    In this movie, the president-to-be is neither the warmongering demon nor the stalwart defender of all that’s right and true.
    He’s just this guy. The joshing, never-serious, somewhat condescending uncle to the young woman who keeps sticking a camcorder in his face for reasons that aren’t entirely apparent. A little on the goofy side, but no idiot.
    And Ms. Pelosi is neither the Spawn of the Liberal She-Devil nor what you think of when you say “NBC Nightly News” either. She’s not the former because, brace yourself, Nancy Pelosi is actually a human being, too. She’s not the latter partly because she’s a producer, not the on-air “talent” you’re used to. Producers are the ones behind the scenes who get actual work done — arranging travel, lining up interviews, soothing hurt feelings — while the ones you know are checking their hair. Think Andie MacDowell to Bill Murray’s weatherman in “Groundhog Day.”
    She comes across as what she apparently is — a bright, friendly young woman who is very tired of getting up at 6 a.m., herded to airplanes and fed turkey sandwiches all day.
    The two of them are practically friends. When she gets interested in a smiley guy from Newsweek (who later turns out to be a cad), Gov. Bush teases her, then offers semiserious advice. When she reports a little too accurately on her fellow media types and they all refuse to speak to her, George steps in to make peace.
    In other words, they act like people. Likable people, no matter what you think of their politics. So do the others on the bus, including some familiar faces. Nobody took the camcorder girl seriously, so they forgot to put their masks on. Sure, the candidate is deliberately trying to charm the press. What will surprise his detractors is that he’s so good at it. Karl Rove still comes across as a creep, but that’s because it’s real life.
    This brilliant little ditty of a film reveals a deep, dark secret: Like Soylent Green, politics is actually made of people. Real people, whom you are not required by law either to hate or to love. You just hang with them, and see them as they are in the tedium of daily coexistence. People, living their lives. Not symbols, not abstractions, not caricatures.
    I ordered the movie because Columbia attorney Jim Leventis, a perfectly normal guy who belongs to my Rotary Club, is Alexandra Pelosi’s godfather. He describes the speaker of the House as “just a wonderful mom and just a wonderful friend.” Really.
    You should see it if you can, and remember the lesson it teaches. It might ground you enough to preserve your faith in people over the next 12 months.
    I’ll try to remember it, too, as those 18 candidates posture for the extremists in their respective parties. If I forget, remind me.

19 thoughts on “Pelosi column

  1. bill

    Ted Bundy was “just a person”,and from what I’ve read,quite an affable guy,MOST of the time.That “movie” was made in 2000.My “faith” in the lead “actor” has been utterly betrayed since then.I prefer being an “extremist” and a “partisan” to being “grounded” in a reality that doesn’t exist.

  2. Brad Warthen

    The thing that partisans will never realize is that the reality DOES exist. The hyperpartisan blogosphere is what is not real. Politicians play to it, but it’s not entirely who they are, unless they are unworthy of anyone’s vote.
    Some people really are jerks. Karl Rove and the Newsweek guy both come across that way in the film, by different routes. But most people are not what their declared enemies make of them.
    I had a very, VERY long lunch yesterday with SCRG President Randy Page and two attorneys for his organization (one of whom is a longtime friend of mine). It was the first time I’d met Randy. I sought the meeting because it was very tough to communicate with them, and once you’ve met somebody face-to-face, it becomes easier.
    Why do I need to communicate with them? Because I’m a newspaper editor, and it is our policy to make our pages open to all views. I kept having to reject their letters and op-eds because instead of just disagreeing with us, they kept misrepresenting what we had said (not necessarily intentionally; they just see facts differently), and arguing with the straw men they had set up.
    Of course, when you reject a submission from someone who distrusts you already, and do so saying, “What you say is wrong,” it just increases the gap. And ultimately, readers are not served.
    The meeting was fine. Just long. It helped to reduce personal tension, and facilitated future communication. No one changed anyone else’s mind, of course.
    But it was an illustration of the truth that people in politics, even those you believe are doing very wrong things, are still just people, and not abstractions to be trashed as one would curse the darkness.

  3. MPS

    Hopefully your conversation with the SCRG folks will bear fruit in terms of a more meaningful conversation on school choice, and move beyond partisan abstractions. And also beyond what wealthy out-of-state ideologues want South Carolinians to think (they have a right to voice their views, but need to be honest about how their going about it). And I say this as a caution supporter of vouchers.

  4. MPS

    Boy, my thoughts got ahead of my grammar. I meant to say “need to be honest about how THEY’RE going about it” and “I say this as a CAUTIOUS supporter of vouchers”.

  5. bill

    I am not a partisan.I don’t care for any of the candidates running for office.I’m an old-fashioned liberal,and there aren’t any of those in the running.
    George Bush is a criminal who will get away with his crimes,in part because the corporate media has not held him accountable for his crimes,and the Democrats don’t have the guts to do anything either.A non-binding resolution? What a joke.
    The last time I was excited about voting for a president was the first time-George McGovern.They don’t make candidates like that anymore.
    I DO agree with you about the unreality of the blogosphere(partisan or otherwise).
    I think it becomes an unhealthy obsession for many.Merely mental masturbation.

  6. Lee

    Bush called Pelosi’s bluff on supporting our troops.
    Democrats said we needed more troops in Iraq.
    The Democrats said they supported the troops, but not the war. Now that their “non-binding resolution” failed to pass, they have moved to Step #2, taking away the funds for fresh troops. Murtha bluntly said the intent is, “… to starve the military…”.
    And when the embolded terrorists strike American soil while weak Democrats sit in power, they will again spin up some blame for everyone else but themselves.

  7. Randy Ewart

    “nothing of huge importance”? What about the close alliance we now have with his “soul” brother, Putin; all the steps to reduce our “addiction to oil”; ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban; getting the US “out of nation building”; being a uniter and not a divider; keeping the Korean peninsula free of nukes; and No Funding Left Behind?

  8. Lee

    Don’t you just love it when some uneducated airhead, in Hollywood or a local supermarket, calls President Bush, Yale graduate, Harvard MBA, “a moron”?
    Then they are finished. No need for detailed analysis of his approach vs the Democrats, if they even are offering an alternative.

  9. bud

    Lee, the Dems accomplished more in the first 100 hours in power that the GOP did during the last 4 years. And yes, our president is a moron. Here’s a quote (one of many hundred, all equality moronic):
    “We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile.”
    –Des Moines, Iowa; August 21, 2000

  10. chris

    Your intelligent and prudent comments are no match for the vitriolic remarks of the internet posters of the left. Their comments are designed to divide well meaning and respectful people, and to hinder meaningful debate.
    Your effort is valid, but you can not win. These venues are overrun with extremist.

  11. bud

    Chris, are these among the intelligent comments of Lee’s that you refer to?
    “And when the embolded terrorists strike American soil while weak Democrats sit in power, they will again spin up some blame for everyone else but themselves.”
    “Don’t you just love it when some uneducated airhead, in Hollywood or a local supermarket calls President Bush, Yale graduate, Harvard MBA, “a moron”?
    Typical Lee. He never supports anything.
    Facts are facts. The intelligence community, foreign governments (including the British), a growing number of retired military and a majority of the American people now believe the Iraq debacle is making us less, not more secure. The burden of proof is on the war supporters to give facts and figures to prove we need to stay. Given the high cost (of staying) that’s the least that we should expect. Instead we get rhetoric.

  12. Lexwolf

    Yeah really, Lee, pick a side already, jeez.
    Yeah, I would suggest America get out of Iraq, after all those weapons of mass destuction they found! I mean, why doesn’t Bush, with his “Yale education” find a more enlightened method of getting oil?! Bush has the same intelligence of an overly medicated giraffe. When will he figure out Iraq is pointless!?

  13. Ready to Hurl

    Your intelligent and prudent comments are no match for the vitriolic remarks of the internet posters of the left. Their comments are designed to divide well meaning and respectful people, and to hinder meaningful debate.

    chris, I’m glad that you posted this sentiment. Here’s another quote that displays why anybody more liberal than, say, Atila the Hun should be on their feet counter-punching the authoritarian reich wing in America.

    I think, in fact, if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we’ll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy.”

    This sentiment comes from Dick Cheney who has been 100% wrong about everything concerned with Iraq. One-Hundred-Per-Cent.
    If any one has validated, yes, even enhanced the al Qaeda strategy, it’s been Dick Cheney.
    Iraq has proven to be a four year bonanza for al Qaeda. Our invasion has radicalized most of the Muslim world against us. We’ve given al Qaeda a great laboratory for killing Americans, training insurgents and proving that they can go toe-to-toe with the “Last Superpower.” When we withdraw– as we will– al Qaeda will declare victory. It doesn’t matter if we stay there 20 years.
    Yet, he has the gall to imply that his political opponents look to assist al Qaeda.
    chris, when you want to sing kumbaya go ahead. As long as people like Dick Cheney are in power, we’re in greater danger of losing our democratic republic from his cohorts than al Qaeda.

  14. Ready to Hurl

    Yes, Lee, I’m saying that someone other than myself wrote that post.
    Why do you find that idea “strange?” Hackers do that sort of thing.
    I’m astonished that you haven’t become an expert on blogs and the Internet in addition to all of your other accomplishments.

  15. Brad Warthen

    RTH, I took out that comment you mentioned. Let me know if it happens again.

    It was by the same person who has signed on under several names, including "Mikhail Kalashkanov." I guess he can’t spell "Kalashnikov."

    I’ve had to delete his stuff several times recently. He’s also posed as both Lee and Lexwolf today. Sorry that happened, folks.

  16. Lee

    FACT: Democrats let Al Qaeda attack America for 8 years under Clinton, and did nothing to round up Muslims with suspicious ties who went on to commit the 9/11 hijackings.
    FACT: G.W. Bush is holds a Harvard MBA.
    FACTS: Bill Clinton flunked out of Cambridge.
    Al Gore flunked out of law school.
    Al Gore was expelled from divinity school for drug abuse.

  17. Lee

    Democrats for child molestation
    Nancy Pelosi and former San Francisco mayor Diane Feinstein have been long time supporters of the so-called “Gay Pride Parade”, and friends of its organizer, Harry Hay.
    The 2001 article in the San Francisco Chronicle shows Nancy Pelosi marching alongside Harry Harry in that parade.
    Harry Hay was a vociferous advocate of using children for his pleasure and abolishing laws against statutory rape and child molestation.
    Can you find any statements from Nancy Pelosi or Diane Feinstein denouncing Harry Hay or his philosophy? If so, please post the citations.

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