Image Credits: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite.

I was on my way to the grocery when I learned that Nancy Pelosi Smash released a statement in advance of the Democrats’ third COVID-19 response bill as Mitch McConnell’s second effort to funnel money to himself and his friends (“What friends? Even his dog hates him.”) went down in spectacular fashion.

It’s full of good stuff: no stock buyback, layoffs, or CEO bonuses; unemployment for those of us laid off; money for our first responders, doctors, and nurses; direct payments to families, guaranteed paid family and medical leave for more workers; free coronavirus treatment, and more. And it makes sure that even if we are still in quarantine thanks to the sheer incompetence and malevolence of the Republican Death Cult and their God King, there will be “billions in grant funding for states through the Election Assistance Commission and a national requirement for both 15 days of early voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail, including mailing a ballot to all registered voters in an emergency.” Go read the whole thing.

I like to joke that I’m not particularly smart, but I have smart friends. So if I may pat myself on the back a little bit, I called this last week. While the pundits were declaring Pelosi was outflanked by the GOP, that the Democrats screwed up, that Pelosi was not only “a total failure”, but grotesque as well, I had a very different take.

I should say at the outset that I have largely stopped reading the kind of “analysis” that’s being offered at the linked outlets, and it has REALLY cleared my head. Common Dreams is especially bad (and my former employers should be ashamed for syndicating their garbage to a wider audience), but it’s always the same refrain no matter who you read: doom and gloom, the Democrats are selling us out, I don’t understand. Yeah, no shit you don’t understand, which is shameful because that’s what you get paid to do.

But while I may not be particularly smart, I’ve been around the block a few times. In the entire 15 years or so I’ve been writing about progressive politics, Nancy Pelosi has been a towering, omnipresent figure. I have watched her run circles around every Republican she’s ever dealt with. I watched John Boehner, and then Paul Ryan, go crawling to her on hands and knees for her to bail out their various budget failures, and more than once. I’ve seen Pelosi pilloried by the pundits time and time again, only to watch the more honest among them eat their words. You’d think they’d learn by now.

As I have said, I am not an expert and I am not particularly smart, but Pelosi’s refusal to approve cash payments sure looks like a smart tactic now. Pelosi isn’t stupid: she knows the Republicans are foundering and desperate to do anything that makes them look less awful. But she also knows they are greedy, corrupt, and none too bright. So she allowed Mitch to make a big show of how he was going to give people money, betting that he would do exactly what he did: try to pass a bill that doesn’t do shit for working people.

All of this, by the way, is taking place in the context of a Republican president who’s scaring the shit out of more of America every blessed day, while the bodies keep piling up like cordwood, the stock market keeps making like the RMS Titanic on steroids, at least two Republicans got popped profiting off the pandemic, and the bill contained what could charitably be described as slush fund.

I guess Mitch thought he ram his piece of crap home, but with the Republican-controlled Senate—limping along from a self-inflicted wound ( that is, the cornavirus they have been saying is a hoax for months), the Democrats voted en masse against it. But even if they didn’t it would still have to pass the House, where Congress would almost certainly take that door Mitch and the GOP explicitly opened to cash payments, and open it wider.

If payments had been House’s opening bid, the Grim Reaper would have stopped that dead in its tracks. Now, the Democrats will be making a much more generous counteroffer, and the GOP isn’t in much of a position anymore to put the kibosh on cash.

Maybe Pelosi wasn’t outflanked after all. But that’s just my thinking. Like I said, I’m not a particularly smart guy, I just have smart friends: perhaps some of that rubbed off on me.

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