This morning WAL Contributor Ryan Ripley posted an article titled Ripley: Pelosi Played a Major Role in Defeat of Amash Amendment. Read it for further information on the following. My objective is to provide a theory. To some it will be obvious. To some it will shed light on Nancy Pelosi’s decision to fight the Amash Amendment despite rejecting The Patriot Act with her past votes.
Pelosi is often reviled as a political player; more interested in Party allegiance than ideological virtue. My contention is this: An ardent supporter of President Obama, Nancy has spent several years defending his stances and positioning herself at his side. Thus in the colorful chess game that is national politics, Pelosi, ever the chess enthusiast, was able to see a few moves ahead.
If the Amash Amendment would have passed in the House of Representatives it would have moved on to the Senate. Would it have passed in the Senate? I don’t know, but judging by the significant support it had on both sides in the House, it would certainly have been a possibility.
It would have then moved on to President Obama. In the days preceding the vote the White House denounced the Amash Amendment stating that it would dismantle the NSA. That being said, it is likely that President Obama would have vetoed the amendment, but what would that have done for public perception?
Amash’s amendment, dealing primarily with the privacy of American citizens (though also economically sensible), would have defunded the NSA’s mass surveillance / data collection of people like you and me (who aren’t suspected of being terrorists). If President Obama were to veto this legislation having already passed the House and Senate, Republicans, Libertarians, and anti-Obama Democrats alike would have had free rein with which to paint the President as a Pro-Surveillance State President – desirous of playing Big Brother even after Congress had opted out.
For an already controversial president, that kind of PR would have been painful. I assert that Nancy Pelosi knew that, and thus took the hyperbolic bullet for President Obama (emphasis on the word hyperbolic for the NSA spies in our audience). Regardless of whether or not using her influence to kill the amendment was in opposition to her previous views on the issue, one thing is for sure. Nancy Pelosi wanted to make sure that the Amash Amendment never made it to the President’s desk. And in the end she was successful.