House Republican leaders gave a press conference this afternoon, in which they claimed that they had enough votes for passage -- but that 12 Republicans flipped after hearing Nancy Pelosi give a partisan speech during the House debate.
I had watched Pelosi's speech, and was a little surprised at how much she whipped on Bush and his administration -- clearly, it was her way of trying to frame the bailout in terms for the upcoming congressional elections.
But the House GOP leaders' claim was a stunning one, I thought. It would be, after all, an admission that they themselves could not hold their own members in line. But more importantly, it would mean that 12 congressmen who had been convinced of the need to pass this bill changed their minds at the last minute, and decided to vote against it and possibly plunge the economy into a deep recession because they felt insulted by a speech.
Talk about failing to put country first!
The Democratic leadership just did their press conference, and the first question was about that very claim from the Republican leadership. Our own Barney Frank eagerly stepped to the microphone. He said that it wasn't the case, but also expressed disbelief that party leaders would say such a horrible thing about their own members -- that he himself would never have impugned such a petty motive on fellow congressmen.
He added that if someone would provide him the names of 12 GOP members who changed their votes because Pelosi had hurt their feelings, he would pay them a personal visit and "I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them" to get their votes back.