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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Sunday, July 20, 2003


Dean Nation's "Backbone" Award

posted by Trammell at Sunday, July 20, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Dean Nation regular Ian Bellis posted a great idea yesterday on the ZonkBoard: a Dean Nation "Backbone" Award. Well, Ian, you got it! Next week, I'd like to open it up for nominations, but this week, there is little doubt of the winners. For courage under fire, standing their ground in the face of adversity, and speaking truth to power, the first Backbone Award goes to:

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representative Charles Rangel, and Democrats in the House of Representatives

From the Washington Post account:
Committee Democrats complained that the Republican majority had not given them enough time to review a substitute bill that they had received shortly before midnight Thursday. Most of the Democrats then moved to a nearby library to plot strategy after they demanded that Republicans read the legislation line by line.

Infuriated, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) instructed the Capitol Police to remove the Democrats from the ornate library. Republicans said Democrats were being disorderly and did not have the right to occupy the libary. [...]

Thomas...conceded that the Democrats could demand a line-by-line reading of the substitute. The reading began, with Thomas interrupting at one point to say loudly, "In the House, the minority can delay. They cannot deny."

When the Democrats left for the library, Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) stayed behind to prevent the Republicans from obtaining unanimous consent to dispense with the reading. After several minutes, Thomas again asked unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, and instantly brought down his gavel. Stark said later that he had objected, and Thomas had replied, "You're too late."
From the New York Times account:
As protests go, it wasn't much. There were no nightsticks or tear gas, and nobody was arrested. But the conduct was far from orderly in the House of Representatives this morning, when more than a dozen Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee — infuriated by last-minute changes to a pension bill — stalked out of a hearing in the Longworth Office Building and holed up in an adjacent library, prompting Representative Bill Thomas, the committee's chairman, to summon the Capitol police. [...]

"The Greeks had a word for it: hubris," declared Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, who initiated the motion to rebuke Mr. Thomas and then played the role of prosecutor. "It was about power, abuse of power."

"This is indeed not an isolated instance!" thundered Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip, his face red, his finger wagging. He added, "You are trampling on the rights of the minority! You are trampling on the rules of this institution! This is America! This is not American!" [...]
More from The Post:
Sergeant at Arms representative Don Kellaher slipped into the room less than 45 minutes later, saying his office decided "this is a committee matter" and would take no action. Rather than concluding the fracas, however, this simply emboldened House Democrats. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used a point of personal privilege to introduce a resolution on the House floor protesting the incident.
Video of Pelosi's reprimand of the Republicans on the House floor here. For other views, see Billmon at Whiskey Bar here and Kos at Daily Kos here.

On a personal note of irony, Pelosi is my former Rep. from San Francisco and Thomas is -- unfortunately -- my current Rep. from Bakersfield, CA. Hey Nancy, in my heart, you'll always be my Representative in the House.

UPDATE: Send Rep. Nancy Pelosi an e-mail and Rep. Charles Rangel some feedback (type in an NY zip like 10027) and let them know that you are a Howard Dean supporter, and that you are proud that they stood their ground and drew "a line in the sand!"

The way to beat the Republicans is to stand up and fight!


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.