Monday, August 06, 2007

Free Advice for Speaker Pelosi

The House Democratic leadership has taken a fair amount of criticism in the last few days for the disputed vote on Thursday evening. As I covered here the other day, Congressional Quarterly reports that the motion to recommit passed the House by a margin of 215-213 -- even thought it's recorded as having been defeated 216-212.

So here's the advice: accept that result.

The provision itself makes little difference to you. If you really want to ensure that illegal immigrants be eligible for food stamps, then you can talk to Harry Reid to ensure that it will be removed in the Senate. But take whatever parliamentary action you feel appropriate to insert -- for now -- the provision that the GOP believes it won.

Why? Because the long vote on Medicare bedeviled the GOP for years. While it wasn't responsible for Republicans losing control of the House, it contributed to the sense that they had become arrogant, and no longer respected the rules. It's clear that for many, the vote last Thursday will do the same. It has already angered conservatives who were unimpressed with Congressional Republicans, and it's likely to anger some moderates as well.

So don't give Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh something to talk about for the rest of your Speakership. Don't give cause to question your fairness. Don't risk that the Select Committee will conclude that the vote was wrongly decided. Instead, act now. You don't even have to admit a mistake. Instead say:

It doesn't really matter who's wrong or right; it's more important that we respect the integrity of the institution of the House of Representatives. If the Minority believes the vote was decided wrongly -- and we can't be 100% sure -- we'll err on the side of fairness.

Among other things, it will give you some credibility every time your fairness is challenged from here on out.

By November 2008, it's possible that this will be the only memorable thing that the Democratic majority does. You don't want that, and neither do your freshmen 'Majority Makers.' So defang this quickly, before it can do much damage. It's the politically shrewd thing. Why put a round in the Republican chamber -- particularly when you see that this is how it will be used?

Isn't it the obvious move?

More thoughts over at Instapundit.

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