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Douglas Andrews / October 14, 2020

San Fran Nan’s COVID Relief Meltdown

The speaker’s unhinged performance with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was one for the ages.

Somebody must’ve slipped Wolf Blitzer a little blue pill. Try as we might, we can’t find any other explanation for the 13-minute, 37-second beatdown he put on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday.

We know what you’re thinking: Wolf Blitzer? And indeed, he might never do so again, but for one shining moment yesterday, the 72-year-old CNN anchor embraced the role of a straight-up hard-news journalist.

At issue was Pelosi’s refusal to cut a deal with President Donald Trump on a COVID relief package — a package that’s been on life support for weeks due to Pelosi’s unwillingness to give the president a legislative win this close to Election Day.

As the editors at National Review noted yesterday, “The CARES Act has expired. An appropriately tailored follow-on bill — with small-business assistance, funding for testing and tracing, limited unemployment benefits, and state and local relief designed solely to plug fiscal holes created by the pandemic — would tide us over until a vaccine or therapeutic were widely available.”

Pelosi has long been lauded by the Leftmedia as a masterful lawmaking strategist. But there was nothing masterful about her embarrassing performance yesterday. Blitzer kept pressing her on her unwillingness to take a $1.8 trillion deal the White House offered her on Friday. Pelosi wants $2.2 trillion, including nearly $500 billion in state, local, and Native American funding, all of which Republicans oppose.

“[The American people] really need the money right now,” said Blitzer, “and even members of your own caucus, Madame Speaker, wanted to accept this deal. $1.8 trillion. Congressman Ro Khanna, a man you know well, I assume you admire him, he’s a Democrat, and he just said this, he said, ‘People in need can’t wait until February. 1.8 trillion is significant & more than twice the Obama stimulus. … Make a deal & put the ball in McConnell[’s] court.’ So what do you say to Ro Khanna?”

It quickly went downhill from there, with Pelosi continuing her spittle-flecked defense of the indefensible. “What I say to you is, I don’t know, you’re always an apologist,” Pelosi sputtered. “And many of your colleagues, apologists for the Republican position. Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we’re going to do. And nobody’s waiting until February.”

It’s been a supremely schadenfreudy stretch for “the most effective legislative mastermind and political tactician in modern history” — so much so that it might be time to revisit her reputation for political shrewdness, indeed, even basic competence. “So far this year,” National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote a few weeks back, “Pelosi has denounced the drone strike against Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani as a ‘provocative and disproportionate action,’ torn up the State of the Union Address behind Trump, tried to put abortion funding in a coronavirus relief bill and then tried to put state and local tax deductions for high earners in a relief bill, called for a police reform bill that is ‘worthy of George Kirby’s name,’ and made an embarrassingly patronizing photo-op wearing a kente cloth” — which, by the way, was the garb of slave traders.

And that was before Pelosi’s let-‘em-eat-cake Salongate fiasco.

“But let me say this, with all due respect, you really don’t know what you’re talking about,” she whined to Wolf, before closing out the interview with a heaping helping of bilious condescension: “Thank you for your sensitivity to our constituents’ needs.”

The entire episode is well worth watching, because it shows Pelosi at her absolute worst. And because we get the sense that she knows Donald Trump has outsmarted her once again. “On the whole,” said no less a CNN slappy than Chris Cillizza, “it was a decidedly embarrassing performance by the Speaker of the House.”

Hey, who are we to argue?

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