Pelosi late to the dance on human rights

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

When Nancy Pelosi is featured on SportsCenter, it somehow gets my attention.

The California Democrat and Speaker of the House is turning her attention to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and to President George W. Bush. She’s calling on Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics to make a political statement.

“If freedom-loving people don’t speak out against China’s oppression of people in Tibet,” Pelosi said last week on Good Morning America, “we have lost all moral authority to speak out against any oppressed people.”

You can’t compare it to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, because Pelosi believes American athletes have earned the right to compete and she’s not calling for boycotting anything beyond the opening ceremonies.

However, I think another more recent comparison is appropriate, and it makes me ask, “Um, Nancy, where were you 10 months ago?”

Let’s go back in time, when we were young and innocent, and every Democrat except Pelosi seemed to be running a presidential campaign. The time was June of 2007, and CNN was holding a Democratic debate.

One of the questions asked was what each candidate would do as president to help end genocide in Darfur. That’s when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson answered.

He said he would want “to lean on China, which has enormous leverage over Darfur. And if the Chinese don’t want to do this, we say to them, maybe we won’t go to the Olympics.”

He got only the support of John Edwards, who said every possible option should be considered. Otherwise, Richardson’s comment was lauded as proof that he wasn’t up to the task of being president.

What stood out to me back then was a problem of priorities. Most of those Democrats previously said in the debate they would have no problem killing innocent civilians to take out a terrorist. I found it strange that people wanting to lead us felt participation in sports was more valuable than human lives.

Now what stands out is Pelosi, and how she took no initiative to support Richardson’s idea – not even a suggestion Bush boycotts the opening ceremonies. She’s spoken out against actions in Darfur, even guest-blogging at savedarfur.org. But she’s made no statement rising to the level of her support for Tibet.

It makes me wonder why the people of Tibet are more important than the people of Darfur. Maybe it’s because “Free Tibet” looks better on a T-shirt. Maybe it’s because news about Darfur didn’t come up during an election year, and Tibet is a convenient issue with California primaries two months away. I don’t know the reason, but whatever it is would probably disappoint me.

If I’m a House Democrat, whether I agree with Pelosi on the Olympics is secondary. It would be my primary concern that Pelosi — who’s tasked as the person tasked to take on the Bush administration on Iraq, warrantless wiretapping, children’s health insurance and regulation of the financial industry — is only a leader on some issues every two years.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail:
kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com