Thank goodness for Gail Collins, for some positive news after a week when so many opinionistas did their best to convince us the whole profession should be banned as toxic to the general welfare. She proclaims “The Age of Nancy”:
… The Republicans have turned Pelosi into the Demon Grandmother — in ads, a satanic figure in the flames of deficit spending, or a 50-foot monster smashing houses with her big-government feet…
But even the public that likes the legislation she’s been churning out tends to underestimate her.
Pelosi has actually been very good on ethics. Under her watch in the House, earmarks are fewer and more transparent. Travel rules are tighter. She fought for the creation of a new in-house watchdog, the Office of Congressional Ethics, pushing it over the wire by one vote. Since then, the aggressive ethics office has won the rancor of investigated members of Congress and the hearts of good-government groups.
“She bit the bullet,” said Sarah Dufendach, the vice president for legislative affairs at Common Cause. “That was a very heavy lift, to get the House to do that. I give her really high marks for that.”
Of all the good deeds for which people get punished in Washington, pushing ethics has to be at the top of the list. Your own members resent it, and the public doesn’t really give you any credit. It’s not likely that people will go to the polls in November and vote Democratic because the House, although still deeply, deeply imperfect, is run with a higher ethical standard than it was before Pelosi got control.
She has been around a long time and must have known that from the start. But she pushed anyway. Pelosi is an idealist working in the practical now. She genuinely sees her party as a vehicle for good and her pragmatism is not the least bit cynical. She is the most powerful woman in the country, the most fearless person on Capitol Hill and on track to be one of the most productive speakers in history.
I don’t know about you, but that kind of knocks me out.
Me too, Ms. Collins… me, too!