Editor's note: Ed Rollins, a senior political contributor for CNN, is Senior Presidential Fellow at the Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University. He was White House political director for President Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Ed Rollins says Nancy Pelosi's press conference attacking the CIA was one of the worst he's seen.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The past week has not been what one would call a great week for our political leaders.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave one of the worst press conferences that I can remember a House leader ever giving.
She accused the Central Intelligence Agency of deliberately misleading her in an oversight briefing in September of 2002.
In the press conference, where she stumbled with her notes, the Speaker declared war on the CIA. "Liar, liar" and "They didn't tell me," were her profound defenses for her not speaking up about waterboarding and her knowledge that it was being used. At the time, she was the ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee and was briefed along with then-Chairman Porter Goss, a Republican.
Goss, who went on to become the CIA director, recalls it differently. That began a back-and-forth with the Speaker's Democratic allies jumping to her defense. In the other corner, former Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Republican leaders demanded she apologize and/or step down as Speaker. So much for a different tone in Washington.
Her final retort that, "They mislead us all the time," must have made the recruiters at Langley very happy. Not.
I am sure several senior CIA operatives would like to use enhanced interrogation techniques until she confesses she has been lying about them lying to her. Good thing for her, President Obama outlawed torture his first day in office.
Why would a Congressional leader pick a fight with an important government agency that is critical to our ongoing fight against terrorism at a time we as a nation are at war on two fronts?
Equally, since the briefing was seven years ago, why go to battle paint now? I assume it's to placate her liberal San Francisco, California, district composed of many former flower children, hippies and perennial war protesters that overwhelmingly elected her and re-elected her 11 times.
I guess it's her excuse for knowing and not telling. The damage done to our intelligence community, though, will be long-lasting and she needs to get this behind her and get back to her day job running the Congress.
And speaking of voters in California -- well, the one in five voters who bothered to vote -- they went to the polls on Tuesday and terminated the Terminator for the third election in a row. The budget initiatives of the governor and his legislative allies got crushed by a very unhappy electorate.
Unfortunately the governor's third strike doesn't put him out, until January 2011, and he and the legislature now have to make the tough decisions they were elected to make. The voters showed they weren't willing to bail them out by raising taxes or borrowing more money.
The president hit a rough patch or two this week also. After getting his auto emission plan accepted by all sides, he learned again that power resides at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Senate Democrats overwhelmingly rejected funds for the president's efforts to close down the Guantanamo detention facility. "Don't put those bad guys in my state," became the rallying cry of the moment.
I guess they assume this strategy works because their leader Harry Reid used it to stop the nuclear depository that was planned for more than two decades in his state. I wonder if Nevada is willing to give us taxpayers back the billions we spent on the waste disposal site. We could use it to build the Harry Reid rapid train from Disneyland to Las Vegas.
Dick Cheney, who hid out in the "secret bunker" located in the basement of the vice presidential mansion for most of two terms -- no longer secret, thanks to Joe Biden telling a bunch of reporters where it is -- continued his effort to be the Republican Party's chief spokesman and defender of all things done in the name of the Bush family.
As his backup, daughter Liz Cheney ran around doing all the other cable shows defending all things Cheney. It's their right to defend themselves, and nobody else is doing it, but it isn't helping Republicans move forward.
Then the forever challenged Republican National Chairman Michael Steele made a major speech to a group of state chairmen saying he now has it figured out: Republicans just need to attack President Obama frontally. And be a forward looking party.
After polite applause, Michael Steele climbed on Ronald Reagan's horse and rode off into the sunset (No such luck).
To make us old men realize how out of touch we really are, we have the daughter of the nominee of our party, John McCain, telling the world WE are what's wrong with the Republican Party. I like and respect John McCain. I was one of the few in New York City who voted for him.
Meghan McCain, the young lady who could have been first daughter, put her silver spike heels into her mouth one more time by saying the party needs to be open to girls who love sex. This was the same 23-year-old who was complaining a few weeks ago that she can't find anyone to date because she doesn't like any Republican who voted for her father and couldn't date anyone who voted for Obama. She has attacked Palin, Rove, Limbaugh and Cheney -- obviously a Trojan horse for the president's team
She appeared on the Colbert Report this past Monday describing herself as a pro-sex Republican and a pro-sex woman. She went on to say the only way Republicans will win the youth vote is by being open-minded on social issues or by learning to use Twitter. I've struggled for many years in the Republican Party, and they with me, but if I have to learn to Twitter, I'll quit and become an independent like my friend Lou Dobbs.
I assume Meghan McCain is just sitting around with nothing to do while waiting to inherit her mother's beer business or her father's Senate seat.
Maybe we don't need waterboarding. Meghan McCain and Michael Steele explaining to the captured Taliban what's wrong with the Republican Party might be good enough. That's certainly torture for me.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Rollins.
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