You can’t say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have priorities. The right ones? Well…
At Tuesday evening Washington time, Iranian missiles hit two American military installations in Iraq. The Al-Asad air base in Anbar province and a base in Irbil were targeted by the strikes, according to The Washington Post; Iran claimed 80 U.S. deaths while the United States hasn’t reported any casualties. Given the relative trustworthiness of the two sources, I’d say the latter is much, much closer to the truth.
The missiles were launched from inside Iran and not from Iranian proxies, a major escalation for Tehran.
The attacks were in response to the American drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a commander of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Pelosi had loudly complained that congressional Democrats — one presumes she was referring to herself in particular — weren’t notified ahead of that action.
But when the Iranian missiles hit American bases on Tuesday and Pelosi was notified directly by the White House, she apparently took somewhat less interest.
The incident was reported by Politico’s Heather Caygle.
“In meeting tonight Speaker Pelosi was handed a note telling her VP Pence was on the phone,” Caygle tweeted.
“’Tell him I’ll call him back,’ she said according to sources in room, noting she had to go open the House for new session.
“Two minutes later, she was handed note about air base bombing.”
In meeting tonight Speaker Pelosi was handed a note telling her VP Pence was on the phone.
“Tell him I’ll call him back,” she said according to sources in room, noting she had to go open the House for new session.
Two minutes later, she was handed note about air base bombing.
— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) January 7, 2020
There’s no doubt the House speaker is a busy woman. But for her to essentially ignore a phone call from the country’s vice president in the middle of an international crisis is odd, given the circumstances and the fact that she’s supposedly very tuned in to what’s happening in the Middle East. She assured her Twitter followers, however, that she was on top of things.
“Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence,” Pelosi tweeted at 7:31 p.m. “America & world cannot afford war.”
Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 8, 2020
Her definition of “closely monitoring” might not match yours. Here’s a tweet from Anna Spiegel, food editor of Washingtonian magazine, time stamped 15 minutes before Pelosi’s “closely monitoring” tweet was published:
Nancy Pelosi at Danny Meyer’s Maialino Mare opening in Navy Yard. pic.twitter.com/OMkVtxeEEk
— Anna Spiegel (@AnnaSpiegs) January 8, 2020
That means Pelosi was either “closely monitoring” the situation from the Maialino Mare opening celebration, or the Twitter post had been pre-scheduled for publication — to give Pelosi’s constituents and press corps fans the impression that she was hard at work on the nation’s business when she was actually enjoying a night on the town.
Neither explanation is very reassuring.
Just in case you didn’t notice the issue, it helps — as The Daily Caller’s Peter J. Hasson did — to note the timing of Pelosi being notified of the phone call from Pence and the visual evidence that she was out at a new restaurant’s opening Tuesday night.
Note the timestamps on these two tweets pic.twitter.com/nKvrN7Z5vo
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) January 8, 2020
Yes, Pelosi’s brush-off of Pence’s call was reported on just over a half-hour before she was reported being at restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Maialino Mare, described by Eater as the “NYC magnate’s first fine-dining restaurant in D.C.” At least it had a memorable opening night.
This didn’t take long to backfire, with GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming calling Pelosi “unfit for office.”
While an American base is under attack Nancy chooses to party with DC society. https://t.co/dgvJIlkuhN
— Matt Wall (@WallWallme) January 8, 2020
Speaker Pelosi is an embarrassment and unfit for office. https://t.co/DJGFb2da4d
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) January 8, 2020
Harsh words, but one can see why they were being thrown about. This might have been a good moment for Pelosi to stay on Capitol Hill gathering intel, seeing how many of our servicemembers — if any — died, meeting with members of her caucus and other lawmakers, directing the opposition’s response, that sort of thing.
Instead, she was gathering intel on “the first full-service restaurant in the city from Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group” which “is an outgrowth of Maialino, the decade-old New York City restaurant based in the Gramercy Park Hotel.” (Again, Eater.)
She apparently wanted to inform us all whether the restaurant really did allow Meyer “to replicate a model that already works while tweaking it to add new pieces” and whether “[s]eafood pastas — like a simple lemon-butter fettuccine made with meat, oil, and stock extracted from Argentine red shrimp — and whole fish will be points of emphasis.” America demands to know.
President Trump is set to deliver his remarks on the missile strikes in Iraq Wednesday morning. I’m assuming there’s not an opening of a Le Denny’s upscale breakfast eatery in the Adams Morgan area of the District, so no doubt Pelosi will be livetweeting it and telling us all how she’s all about “ending needless provocations from the Administration.”
Beyond that, it’s interesting how a media usually absorbed in the food-related habits of our leaders — or, well, one leader in particular — didn’t want to pick up on this one.
The not-entirely-substantive gustatory habits of the president have always been reported as if they constituted actual news. Fulminate as President Trump allocates himself two whole scoops of ice cream at dinner while everyone else gets one! Lament the passing of the good ol’ days when our presidents didn’t use bigger salt-and-pepper shakers as an apparent power move! Cluck knowingly at how Trump orders dinner for other people!
Meanwhile, Pelosi’s food-adjacent activities are of legitimate concern to voters in this circumstance and among the legacy media, only Fox News ran a short piece on it, focusing on Liz Cheney’s tweet.
If only she’d have used bigger salt-and-pepper shakers. By George, they’d have had to report on it then — right?
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