'The American People Don't Care About Process'


A couple of months ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bragged that "the New Direction Congress has passed unprecedented disclosure and lobbying reform laws, created an independent ethics office, and will continue to operate in a transparent and accountable manner." But last month she rejected a C-Span request to televise health care negotiations, as President Obama repeatedly promised on the campaign trail. And last week, discussing the way Congress has produced health care legislation, Pelosi told reporters, "The American people don't care about process." She was reacting to Obama's remarks that the process has been "ugly," involving "backroom deals," "lobbying and horse trading" that "left most Americans wondering, 'What's in it for me?'" By contrast, Pelosi suggested that the ends justify the means:

Notwithstanding Mr. Obama's campaign pledge, Democratic leaders show no inclination to televise the [health care] negotiations on C-Span. A more fastidious process might be the president's stated priority—not theirs.

"As I've said to my colleagues," Ms. Pelosi said, "'Go in the door. The door's locked? Go to the gate. The gate's locked? Climb over the fence.'

"'It's too high? Pole vault in. That doesn't work? Parachute in.' We have to get this done for the American people," she concluded, "one way or the other."

So many questions for us to consider: Do the American people care about process? Did Pelosi think they did when she was talking up the transparency and accountability of the New Direction Congress? Has she changed her mind since then? If so, is her current position any different from the attitude reflected by presidential adviser David Axelrod's remark that "people will never know what's in that bill until we pass it"? Finally, aren't you glad Nancy Pelosi is not stalking you?