CNN’s Blitzer Gushes to Nancy Pelosi: “This is Going to be an Exciting Ride”
"Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer interviewed incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday and continued the fawning media coverage of the liberal Democrat. His gushing tone can best be described by how he closed the interview:
Wolf Blitzer: "Let me just congratulate you and wish you the best of luck. This is going to be an exciting ride. We started off that you are going to be the first woman to be the Speaker of the House. So you have an enormous amount of responsibility that comes with the job, a little bit extra because you're making history."
Nancy Pelosi: "Well, I appreciate your saying that and I think one of my first acts as -- post-election, will be to become a grandmother for the sixth time. We're anxiously awaiting the birth of our grandchild, who is due the first week in November, so a good omen. We get ready for our new grandbaby as we get ready for a new Congress."
Blitzer: "Well, we'll wish you only the best on that front as well."
Pelosi: "As well, thank you. Thank you, Wolf."
Throughout the segment, which aired at 5:28pm on November 8, Mr. Blitzer’s tone seemed similar to that of an excited fan interviewing a celebrity. He began the interview with a cutesy exchange over just what to call Ms. Pelosi:
Blitzer: "I don't know whether to call you Madam Speaker Designate, or what's the formal title until you're actually sworn in as speaker, what, January 3rd?"
Pelosi: "Well, this week, still Nancy."
Blitzer: "No, I'm not going to call you Nancy, but the President, when he spoke with you on the phone this morning, he called you.-"
Pelosi: "He called me speaker elect, but technically a caucus still has to act. Once they act, and then it's the Speaker is a constitutional officer elected by the House of Representatives, so that happens in the first week of January."
Blitzer: "I'll call you congresswoman for the time being."
Pelosi: "There we go."
Blitzer: "But they'll be plenty of time later to call you Speaker."
Blitzer quickly shifted into discussing just how "historic" the ascension of Nancy Pelosi is:
Blitzer: "It's obviously an historic moment, a woman becoming speaker of the House of Representatives. What is the impact? What does that mean for you?"Pelosi: "Well, what it means for our country, I think, is something very important. The Congress is, of the United States, as you know, Wolf, is an institution steeped in history and tradition. For a woman to break through what I call the marble ceiling here is something quite remarkable. It sends a message that women can do anything."
Blitzer: "And do you feel a special responsibility knowing that, historically, this has never happened in our country before, that a woman becomes the Speaker of the House?"
Pelosi: "I do. I feel a very special responsibility. I feel a responsibility to have the most honest and open Congress, to have a Congress that has civility as its hallmark, bipartisanship in our debate and our deliberations, and fiscal soundness as a woman would want to have, not heaping mountains of debt on future generations. And as the first woman Speaker, I would want to conduct myself, perform my duties, in a way that would be sure that it wouldn't be too long before we'd have another woman Speaker of the House."
Blitzer: "It puts a little added pressure on you, but we'll get back to that."
Interestingly, CNN had no trouble coming up with a title for Ms. Pelosi on election night. A CNN producer designated her "Madame Speaker" before the votes were tallied.
A main focus of the CNN host’s questioning appeared to be whether Ms. Pelosi can reign in President Bush, specifically whether he would "do what you want him to do." He also repeatedly asked if Pelosi would cut funding for the Iraq war:
Blitzer: "But fundamentally, do you think there will be a real change in U.S. policy toward Iraq, or this is simply changing the cast of characters? Will the President, in other words, do what you want him to do?"
Pelosi: "Well, first of all, the president is the Commander in Chief. Donald Rumsfeld and whoever the president appoints are -- gets confirmed -- Mr. Gates, in this case -- is an employee of the president. So the policy is the president's. The implementation of the policy is Mr. Rumsfeld's, and that's why I think it was very important for him to go."
Blitzer: "If the President pursues the current policy, as you call it, stay the course, which he no longer uses that phrase, one option would be, in the House of Representatives, the power of the purse, to cut funding for the war in Iraq. Is that on the table?"
Pelosi: "Not really. We would never-"
Blitzer: "Why isn't it on the table?"
Pelosi: "Well, because our troops are in harm's way. They have been sent there, whether you agree with the policy or not, and I certainly did not agree with the resolution to go to war. We would not withhold our funding for the troops there."
Blitzer: "So what can the House of Representatives do, as you -- with you as Speaker, if the President, over the next two years, continues the strategy, the policy as is?"
Pelosi: "Well, what we have done in the House and Senate now, with a majority -- a Democratic majority in the Senate, I anticipate, Senator Reid and I, the Democratic leader there, have put forth some principles for solving the problem in Iraq."
Blitzer: "You can make recommendations, basically."
Continuing with this theme, a few minutes later, Blitzer enthusiastically questioned the new Speaker of the House as to how she will use subpoena power:
Blitzer: "The power that you will have as the majority is subpoena power, when you conduct your investigations, your oversight. You said on ‘Meet the Press’ back on May 7th, ‘Well, we will have subpoena power. Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It's about checks and balances.’ Tell us how you plan on pursuing using this subpoena power.
Pelosi: "Well, first of all, others have said to us, do the Democrats want to get even now that we're in the majority? We're not about wanting to get even. What we want to do is to help the American people get ahead, not to get even with the Republicans. And so, as we go forward with our hearing process and -- which is the normal checks and balance responsibility of Congress, it will be to what is in furtherance of passing legislation that makes the policy better, that improves the lives of the American people. In order to make important decisions, you have to base them on facts. That's the only way your judgment-"
Blitzer: "So you'll use that subpoena power as appropriate?"
Pelosi: "Well, it's not a question -- well, subpoena power is a last resort. We would hope that there would be cooperation from the executive branch in terms of investigating the pre-war intelligence. I don't know -- those decisions will be made by our caucus with the wisdom of the committees of jurisdiction. They may or may not be a priority. We're a brand-new caucus, we have many new, excellent members coming in and we will establish our priorities together. But we will not abdicate our responsibility as the first branch of government, Article I, the legislative branch and our checks and balances responsibilities."
Only a few days after the midterm elections, one thing is clear: The Democrats will have a willing ally in their battles against Republicans.