Luke Russert is the youngest Capitol Hill House of Representatives correspondent and he got his job, covering the most powerful legislature in the world, right out of college with an intern’s experience. Many suspect it’s because his departed father was dean of NBC News and I am part of that many. His colleagues at MSNBC won’t say this, but in reality, no one of his experience gets hired for that job. No one. His offensive, wasteful and meandering question today was a wasted opportunity to get better insight from Speaker Pelosi on Democratic strategy toward budget talks or foreign policy or infrastructure (Sandy and beyond). We did get a better understanding of how ill suited Russert currently is for that job:
Luke Russert: “Some of your colleagues privately say that your staying on will prohibit the party from having younger leadership and will be..hurts the party in the long term…what’s your response?”*
Nancy Pelosi:“Some of my male colleagues came when they were 30…You have to take off of that 14 years for me because I was home raising a family”
I just highlighted two parts of the Minority Leader’s answer. Watch the whole exchange:
The best is Russert declines to accept that he just said some offensive garbage and to Pelosi’s answer and continues to filibuster her and insist on an answer to his question. Then he gets taken school.
Not even really actualized in Luke’s silver spoon fed brain before he opened his mouth and asked that question is that Nancy Pelosi is really good at her job. Really good. We know Tip O’Neill, we should also know Nancy Pelosi as someone who is literally changing the face of politics.
That job (Minority leader of the House of Representatives) includes: representing her district, negotiating compromises with the Republicans in the House of representatives, raise money for House Democrats and Democratic candidates, organizing the Democrats to oppose or support the platform through legislation, getting Democrats elected in districts around the country that represent the party platform and cultivating Democratic leadership (committee ranking members, house caucus chairs, leading legislative strategy among Democrats, official leadership positions and campaign committee leadership) from the House of Representatives to further those goals. All of that takes years of experience, knowledge of the legislative environment, a fine strategic mind, patience, allies and know how. In addition,leadership of your caucus is usually someone who is in a safe seat: one that won’t be gerrymandered away from them (because they have clout built from years of alliance building and deal making) and their delegation isn’t hostile to them. So from the deepest blue districts (preferably in blue states or in Clyburn’s case a blue area e.g. African American, non Cuban latino, Asian) with Democratic house legislators, that is where you’ll get candidates who make sense as leadership. All of Obama’s legislative successes have gone through Pelosi as majority leader or minority leader. Along with Harry Reid, that historic first term of legislative successes was made possible by their legislative prowess. She has been a winner. No reason she should step aside. McConnell and Boehner have steadily made their party older, whiter and more male. The Democratic party has continued to find young, diverse candidates. The record breaking 20 women in the US Senate, a lot of that started with Pelosi getting some of those women elected to the US House of Representatives. Let alone the additional women, black, latino and asian members of the House of Representatives.
To be short, this is the most diverse and probably youngest congress you’ve ever seen. Ever. But to Luke Russert it’s legitimate to ask Minority Leader Pelosi if should be asked to step aside so someone like Heath Shuler (who took his ball and went home) (or whoever confided with Russert) should be given a turn.*
Some new guidelines for Russert’s next presser:
- Women running for the House of Representatives don’t get the same opportunity as you baby Luke! So whereas you’ll have 30 years of experience reporting national news at 50, a female US rep may be 10 to 15 years in to her role. Pelosi first won her House seat at 47 years old in 1987.
- Anyone that whispers sweet politic nothings in your ear probably wants to launder their bullshit opinions through your stupid questions at a presser so they don’t have to take responsibility for being sexist, ageist or white male & priveleged. If you start any press conference question with “someone somewhere, privately told me”, start over and ask a different question
Note: Love the imagery of Nancy Pelosi’s boss a$$ platoon comprised of the House Democratic Women’s Working Group. It’s a small tight stage, but it’s the feeling that there isn’t enough room for them and they are going to make more.
*I would bet money that the Democratic colleague(s) Russert cites who privately say to him that Pelosi is too old and needs to step aside would be a male Blue Dog Democrat whose idea of compromise is capitulation to the Tea Party controlled Republican caucus on tax cuts and entitlement cuts so they can be re-elected in 2013.