SF Weekly Letters

Questioning Madam Speaker's Premise
Missing something: "Her House Divided" [Sasha Abramsky, Feature, 8/25] led me to wonder what the political landscape of the Bay Area might look like if someone like Nancy Pelosi actually had to deal with a critical, challenging, questioning press. Greatly changed? Probably not. But it would have to make some difference, wouldn't it?

I wouldn't lump your article in with the Chronicle's coverage of her becoming Speaker of the House, which was reminiscent of its coverage of the 49ers' Super Bowl wins. But I didn't detect a hint in the article that it would ever occur to you to question the premises Pelosi brings to politics and to Congress. Did I miss something?

Just to take one example, you wrote: "Sure, the financial stimulus packages likely prevented George W. Bush's disastrous eight-year tenure from leading to a full-blown depression as a hangover." Who believes that? Could you find anyone who believes it, except those who want to believe it? Isn't the fraud of the stimulus proved by claims that were made on its behalf, i.e., jobs saved in congressional districts, which didn't exist?

It was curious that you did not mention what has to be the defining statement of Pelosi's career: that the health care bill had to be passed so we could find out what it is. Rather remarkable take on the process of lawmaking, isn't it?

The article described the time when Pelosi first went to Congress as "an era when many of her colleagues openly mocked gays and declared [AIDS] to be God's punishment against sexual sinners." Many congressmen said that AIDS was God's punishment of gays? Could you really find that quotation from congressmen to justify the use of "many"? I don't think you can. It was very common to accuse people of having said that. In a lot of cases, it was putting words in people's mouths.

Albert Alioto

San Francisco

Sasha Abramsky responds: Regarding Mr. Alioto's point on the rhetoric around gay rights and AIDS in 1980s Washington, the fact is that many conservative politicians and ministers — including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who became close allies of the GOP during this period — made inflammatory statements about AIDS and about godly retribution being meted out to homosexuals, while Congressmen William Dannemeyer and Bob Dornan and Senator Jesse Helms made many bigoted, offensive comments.

On page 91 of Pelosi's memoir, Know Your Power, she writes about an unnamed congressman "ranting" on the House floor about AIDS being a punishment for sin.

Tax-and-spend is not helping: It's easier to find a psychic than anyone who likes [George W.] Bush in the Bay Area, but [Sasha Abramsky] missed the point about Pelosi. She has demonstrated that the model of tax-and-spend doesn't help anyone. Higher taxes mean that everyone, including the government, has less money. But the real problem is that Pelosi believes she is smarter than everyone. I may want a single-payer health plan, but not one stuffed down our throats. Just look at how she led the charge to take over the student loan program. Is she going to dictate which schools get federal funding (Berkeley yes, Stanford no), or who can get money (liberal arts majors yes, engineers no)?

Paul

Web Comment

Pat Tillman's Legacy
Lifting the veil and honoring the fallen: "Craven" doesn't half get it ["Toy Soldier," Melissa Anderson, Film, 9/1]. I don't know or care a thing about sports. I didn't know who Pat Tillman was until after his death, but it is obvious he was a person of respect, and the best we have had. Tillman's tragedy and his honor were co-opted by the spin doctors of political expedience to shore up yet another foreign adventure cooked up by greedy old men with no shame.

Michael Yomtov

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