Beat Sweetener: The Journal and Post slather calculated praise on Nancy Pelosi.

Media criticism.
Nov. 10 2006 6:02 PM

Beat Sweetening: The Nancy Pelosi Edition

The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post slather calculated praise on the new speaker.

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Theirs was the politics of the New Deal, of the hand up for those who were down.

"It was always about the progressive economic agenda for a fair economy, where many Americans, all Americans, could participate in the economic success of our country," Pelosi said yesterday when asked about the influence of her family's politics on her own.

"What I got from them was about economic fairness," Pelosi said. "That was the difference between Republicans and Democrats all those years ago." She also learned about the power of loyalty, both extending it and enforcing it.

Back to the Journal: Pelosi wins undeserved praise from the paper for having tended to the needs of the moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Democrats as well as the fervent liberals. Um, isn't keeping all party members in the same tent the job description of a congressional leader?

Who is the real Pelosi? Slate's John Dickerson called her "tactically stupid" six months ago for promising to launch a series of congressional investigations of the Bush administration—going back to its first year—if the Democrats took the House. Will her party or the press hold her feet to that flame?

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Joe Klein captured Pelosi perfectly just after the2002 election, writing in Slate:

Last week, Nancy Pelosi—the very sort of political anachronism the party should studiously avoid—launched her campaign for House minority leader with a self-delusional whopper: "The Republicans are the party of the special interests," she said. "The Democrats are the party of the people." What nonsense. It was the Democratic Party's obeisance to its special interests—specifically, to the public employees unions, the trial lawyers, and the AARP—that helped lose the election. Organized labor forced the party's disastrously witless position against the homeland security bill. The trial lawyers insisted that punitive damages be included in the terrorism insurance bill. The AARP has backed the Democrats' foolish and expensive prescription drug plan.

How long will we be fed all this Pelosi pap? Until she screws up royally, which shouldn't be long, or until the press starts pouring sugar all over Sen. Harry Reid. Whoops! Did I write too soon? Mark Leibovich gives Reid the semi-sweet treatment in today's New York Times.

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Disclosure: Leibovich is a friend—but perhaps not anymore. On the long shot that you care, Wonkette and FishbowlDC track who I've identified in my column as a friend. To keep the rankings straight, Leibovich is a much better friend than Michael Isikoff but much worse than David Corn, my current No. 1. Seen a good beat sweetener lately? Send it my way: slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

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Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

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