Despite what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in an interview last night – "I know you`re nonpartisan" – Maddow very predictably helped Pelosi dismiss any responsibility for the Speaker in the Eric Massa ethics investigation. [Audio available here.]
Maddow didn’t act like a skeptical Tim Russert, asking if Pelosi sounds exactly the opposite of her remarks in 2006, assuming Speaker Dennis Hastert cravenly overlooked the allegations of Mark Foley's sexual misconduct. Instead, she embraced Pelosi’s line that Republican focus on Massa was "trying to distract from the endgame on health reform." Maddow declared her nostrils had found it:
You can almost smell how excited Republicans were to try to make this an anti-Democratic leadership issue today. They were very excited about that prospect for some number of minutes this afternoon. And for some of those minutes, I was actually inside the U.S. Capitol and I swear you could smell it in there.
But any attempt to make this a really big political stink today seems to have fizzled out rather quickly. Nice try, though.
As she opened her show Maddow compared "the kerfuffle over former Congressman Eric Massa`s resignation" as nothing compared to "accountability for the Bush administration’s occasional cackling, gleeful trampling of the Constitution." This is how the two ultraliberal ladies discussed the Massa case:
MADDOW: So, just to be clear, that earlier, several months ago allegation, October, I believe, not an allegation --
MADDOW: -- but rather that something was referred to staffers in your office, member services director, but --
PELOSI: Yes, a staffer.
MADDOW: A staffer in your office but it was not something that your staff believed rose to the level of an allegation.
PELOSI: Right. There are all kinds of articles that are written about many members in the Congress. And I don`t think we want to get to that place.
Besides I served on the ethics committee for seven years. When I say served, it was almost like a sentence because it`s very tough duty and I commend the people who serve there and the service they provide to the Congress. But the last thing we would have wanted than was any intervention from the speaker`s office. There`s an appropriate way for an allegation to be sent to the ethics committee and it shouldn`t be something that is the speaker`s office is the melting -- or the mixing pot.
MADDOW: Are you troubled though now -- I mean, Congressman Massa’s behavior since he -- around the time that he resigned and since he resigned -- has been inconsistent. He initially, for example, made an allegation that he was being forced out because he was a vote against health care. And then he recanted that allegation. He`s made some other inconsistent statements.
But we’re left with the impression that he may have behaved inappropriately toward people who worked for him and toward other people who work in this building.
PELOSI: That’s up to the ethics committee to investigate. But the fact is, you started this conversation in the right way. It’s another subject that people would like to be a distraction. I will not take my eye off the ball, which is to pass health care reform right now and at this time to build support for what we are doing.
The people like to mix those two. Not you, but the Republicans. You're never to be taken for one of them. But I know you`re nonpartisan. But in any event, the -- for me, I`m not paying a lot of attention to some of that. It`s appropriately being dealt with where it`s being dealt with.
But that’s not what Pelosi said in the Foley case on the October 3, 2006 NBC Nightly News, as she suggested Speaker Hastert was going soft on perverts: "They held this closely. They shared it among themselves. They did not act to protect the children. They're all responsible."
After her monologue on the political cologne of the Republicans on Capitol Hill, Maddow grew lyrical in her praise of Pelosi and her "raw" effectiveness:
MADDOW: Even nonpartisans, even people very opposed to Nancy Pelosi politically can see that she has been one of the most effective speakers of the House in modern history. And when you separate out her track record from that of the 111th Congress as a whole, her raw effectiveness really does jump out at you.
Under Pelosi, the House has passed all of the major planks of President Obama's first year legislative agenda. They passed the stimulus. They passed the budget. They passed the health reform. They passed cap-and-trade. They even passed Wall Street reform.
The Senate, however, is another story. The Senate is like a never-ending busy signal over there. Nothing gets through.
As we have reported before, at least 290 pieces of legislation passed by the House of Representatives this Congress, including some big ones, are still sitting in the Senate awaiting action. There’s nothing Speaker Pelosi can do about that. But she has made known her frustration with the broken Senate.
[Hat tip: Will T.]