Thursday, January 04, 2007

Peace Activists Could Become Pelosi's Worst Nightmare

While the first 100 hours look to be quite successful for Nancy Pelosi and her House of Representatives Democratic majority, the first 100 days may prove to be much more difficult. Earlier this week, Left wing activists, including Cindy Sheehan, gave incoming House leaders a little taste of what’s sure to become an ongoing battle within the Democratic Party.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and other House Democrats had gathered in the Cannon Caucus room to discuss changes to House rules, including new travel restrictions, gift bans, legislative procedures and earmarks; all issues that Democrats had campaigned and won on in the fall elections. As Emanuel was speaking, Sheehan and the group she was with began shouting, “De-escalate, investigate, bring our troops home now!”

Emanuel attempted to continue his discussion over the shouting but when it was clear that Sheehan’s group was not going to back down, he and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and incoming Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) decided to finish the discussion elsewhere and left.

“They are not including the peace movement’s voice,” Sheehan later told reporters. It is a statement that is definitively a shot across the bow for Democrats in the House as well as the Senate. As President Bush is set to speak to America and push for a troop surge in Iraq, Sheehan and the peace movement are gearing up to demand payment on the IOU’s they feel Congressional Democrats wrote to them during the elections.

“I accept this gavel in the spirit of partnership, not partisanship, and look forward to working with you on behalf of the American people,” Pelosi said after accepting the Speaker’s gavel. “In this House, we may belong to different parties, but we serve one country.”

While working with House Republicans is going to be a challenge for Pelosi, the tougher fight will come with the Left wing Democrats who are sure to call on Congress to de-fund the Iraq war if Bush calls for an escalation. That won’t happen, but peace activists want blood and Congressional investigations may not be enough to satisfy their hunger.

So where does that leave Pelosi? She obviously realizes that the war is still Bush’s war and she doesn’t want to leave any of her fingerprints at the scene. But if the situation on the ground in Iraq gets any graver, and most independent observers think it will, it won’t only be the Left wing of the Democratic Party that will be pressing for meaningful action out of the House leaders. Voters spoke in November and the status quo will not suffice.

“Today I thank my colleagues. By electing me as speaker you have brought us closer to the ideal of equality that is America’s heritage and America’s hope,” Pelosi said. “This is an historic moment — for the Congress, and for the women of America. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights.”

Yeah, but the question most Americans want answered is, "What are you going to do about Iraq?"

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