As soon as the bailout proposal failed in the House, Republican lawmakers began blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for its defeat. In a press conference, the GOP leadership faulted Pelosi for giving a “partisan” speech prior to the vote. In the subsequent Democratic press conference, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) responded to their absurd charge:
Here’s the story. There’s a terrible crisis affecting the American economy. We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis. And because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country. I mean, I would not have imputed that degree of pettiness and hypersensitivity.
We also have — as the leader will tell you, who’s been working with them — don’t believe they had the votes, and I believe they’re covering up the embarrassment of not having the votes. But think about this. Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country. That’s hardly plausible. And there are 12 Republican members who were ready to stand up for the economic interest of America, but not if anybody insulted them.
I’ll make an offer. Give me those 12 people’s names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they’ll now think about the country.
Watch it (view YouTube version here):
Pelosi’s speech mentions the word “Republican” once — in the context of praising them for bipartisanship: “Over the past several days, we have worked with our Republican colleagues to fashion an alternative to the original plan of the Bush Administration.” After looking at Pelosi’s speech, CNN’s Ed Henry said he couldn’t “find the partisan thing that they say sort of inflamed Republican members.” (View her full speech here.)
A GOP staffer wrote into National Review’s Rich Lowry and acknowledged that Frank was right: “Rich — I’m afraid Rep. Frank has a point on this one. Some feelings on the GOP side were hurt, so they voted against the economic well-being of the country?”
The Politico notes that Pelosi’s speech on the House floor “deviated substantially” from her prepared remarks. During her speech, Pelosi ad-libbed a more stinging rebuke of conservative policies, saying, “Democrats believe in a free market…but in this case, in its unbridled form as encouraged, supported by the Republicans — some in the Republican Party, not all — it has created not jobs, not capital, it has created chaos.” Pelosi’s office has not returned Politico’s request for comment.