Peters punts on Pelosi (The Michigan View.com 11.12.10)

Posted by hpayne on November 12, 2010

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, ran away from Speaker Nancy Pelosi in his 2010 re-election campaign. Despite voting with the San Francisco Democrat’s radical agenda 95 percent of the time — including support for a massive, budget-busting stimulus bill and the anti-small business Obamacare — Peters championed himself a “blue dog,” budget-cutting, pro-small business independent Democrat who expressed “frustration. . . with Democratic leadership.”

The tactic worked: Peters was a rare Democratic survivor of the Republican tsunami that swept the country on Election Day.

In the wake of that debacle, Pelosi shocked Washington by announcing she would run again for her party’s congressional leadership post. Independent, Blue Dog Democrats have reacted with revulsion, speaking out publicly against the House leader who is synonymous with Washington extremism. “At least 15 Democrats have said publicly that they have lost faith in her ability to lead,” reports Politico on the Blue Dog insurrection. “Even the New York Times’ editorial page has called on Pelosi to step aside.”

Rep. Peters, however, has been nowhere to be found. He has avoided press inquiries and not taken a stand on the controversial Pelosi leadership issue.

Until today. In a contentious interview on the Frank Beckmann Show Friday morning, the independent, leadership-frustrated, anti-spending Peters told Beckmann that on the matter of Speaker Pelosi’s re-election he. . . “will wait to see what happens when I get (back to Washington). That’s just insider politics.”

With the campaign behind him, “Blue Dog” Peters true “Beige Dog” colors are coming out again. While sources say he is privately not as supportive of Pelosi as Michigan congressmen like Sander Levin and John Dingell who represent more liberal districts, Peters’ public silence speaks volumes. Still an insecure, second-term junior member of Congress, Peters cannot afford to cross his potential party leader.

The candidate who ran as the bold defender of small business and the enemy of Big Special Interests, can no longer afford to publicly cross the most anti-small business, pro-Big Special Interest speaker in modern Congressional history. “We’ll see who’s running,” he told Beckmann. “We’ll wait and see who’s there.”

By contrast, across the border in Ohio, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, told the Youngstown Business Journal he’s not sure Pelosi’s the right choice. “She’s obviously in charge so she needs to take the brunt of the responsibility for (the election),” he said. “I was brought up to be loyal to people who helped you and I want to be — but at the expense of what?”

Inside politics? Pelosi’s leadership was a core issue of the fall election.

On another sore point, Beckmann pressed Peters on the gutter campaign the Democrat employed against GOP opponent Rocky Raczkowski. Peters ran the nastiest congressional campaign in the state, tarring the Republican with personal attacks so vile that Rocky has filed a lawsuit against Peters. But Peters also pushed the fiction that Raczkowski wanted to raise taxes by 23 percent. The ad campaign — an attack on tax reform eliminating the income tax in favor of a national sales tax supported by Rocky and other Republicans — was so misleading that independent watch dog groups denounced it and many Democrats removed it from the air.

But not the 9th district incumbent. “Any regrets?” asked Beckmann about the ad. “Did it hurt your credibility?”

Peters was unrepentant. But when Beckmann asked again, Peters seemed to suggest that the political ends justified the means. “In 30 seconds,” he said, referring to the ad spot’s running time, “what can you do? That’s nothing new in politics. You focus on those areas that benefit you.”

Peters words would come back to haunt him moments later.

Discussing the Obama deficit commission’s proposal to raise taxes as well as cut spending to address a record, $1.3 trillion deficit (created by Peters’ and Pelosi’s spending binge), Peters allowed how tax increases were necessary. “If you’re going to bring it down, no one area is enough,” he said urging a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts.

Beckmann took the opening and pressed Peters on whether the “pro-small business” pol was advocating tax hikes. “You talked about an ad that only talked about one side of the story? You can’t have one side of the story,” said Peters referring to his own one-sided ad.

Responsible leadership means not giving one side of the story – unless you need to win an election.

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