Nancy Pelosi’s Fake Kennedy Award: Profiles in Predictability

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U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi received the 2019 Profile in Courage award at John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Sunday, May 19. She was praised “for putting the national interest above her party’s interest.” Whatever she did or did not do in her party’s interest, the California Democrat certainly has never wavered in pursuing her own interest.

Since first winning a special election to Congress in 1987, Pelosi has routinely racked up more than three-quarters of the votes cast in her reelection bids. Most recently, she tallied more than 86 percent of the vote in her successful 2018 campaign. 

Having gained the highest position of power any woman has ever achieved in the United States, the Speaker is assuredly doing nothing to diminish her own position. Since 2002, Pelosi has spent nearly two decades as Democrat Minority Leader and Speaker of the House. That secure lock on real power is matched by few politicians in American history and by no one else in the 21st Century.

Among the local pols extolling Pelosi at the Kennedy Library ceremony, none could top Worcester Congressman Jim McGovern’s sycophantic pandering to his boss: “I think,” he flattered, “she is the greatest Speaker of the House in the history of our country.” That ignores such influential Democrat speakers as Henry Clay, Sam Rayburn, John McCormack, and Tip O’Neill. In exalting his boss, the  Worcester Democrat apparently forgot that O’Neill and McCormack were both from Massachusetts. Or maybe he just spends too much time in Washington to remember his former home state.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-Westford), elected in 2018 to the “Tsongas” Lowell seat, overlooked some constitutional niceties in paying homage to Boss Pelosi. “I think,” Trahan gushed, “she’s essentially running the country right now.” That raises an awkward question for Democrats:  If Pelosi is running the country, then what are their innumerable presidential candidates grousing about?

Once upon a time, the Profile in Courage was considered a non-partisan, if decidedly liberal-leaning, presentation. That bipartisan veneer has clearly been cast aside, as Pelosi is the fourth consecutive liberal Democrat politician to receive the recognition that has devolved into a partisan plum for power-brokers. 

While couched in the language of her unbending advocacy of Obamacare, the award likely also went to Pelosi because of her 100 percent rating from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, euphemized to NARAL Pro-Choice America. At the Kennedy Library ceremony, Caroline Kennedy praised Pelosi for “acting in service of our highest principles and our most vulnerable citizens.” One can only conclude that pro-life ideals are not among “our highest principles,” nor are unborn babies among “our most vulnerable.”

During the same week in May 2019, another congressional Democrat was selected for an honor by one more Boston-area institution. Boston College Law School chose Democrat Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia to deliver its commencement address to the graduating class. Like Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Scott has a 100 percent score from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Both Scott and Pelosi share a dismal 0 score from National Right to Life for opposing all legislation to protect unborn babies.

A 1973 BC Law grad, Scott has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993, the first African-American elected in Virginia since Reconstruction. When Democrats secured a majority following the 2018 elections, the veteran congressman rose to chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor. BC Law, the Boston College Law School magazine, lauds Scott as a “civil rights champion,” who advances an agenda that “expands access to healthcare,” and “fought efforts to permit employment discrimination in federally funded programs.”

In plain language, he, along with Speaker Pelosi, opposes efforts to protect religious liberty, and they support contraceptive mandates that dictate “healthcare” policy to religious institutions. No wonder this has been a primary worry for the Catholic Church in America during the 21st century. On policy questions with respect to whether Catholic and other religious institutions will decide for themselves or the federal government will decide for them, Scott and Pelosi — and by implication, BC Law — come down squarely on the side of government.

Further strengthening its endorsement of Scott’s views, BC Law quotes the dean’s effusive words. “’I am very pleased that Congressman Scott has agreed to be our Commencement speaker,’ said Vincent Rougeau, dean of Boston College Law School. ‘He has served in many leadership roles and his public service record is exemplary. We are honored to have someone of his stature as a member of our alumni community. His is a voice of reason and compassion in a troubled world.'”

On its web site, Boston College Law School implies it provides “a top quality legal education grounded in Boston College’s Catholic Jesuit tradition.” Then it goes on to contradict — some might say mock — that idea by quoting yet another 100 percent follower of the NARAL pro-choice/pro-abortion dictates. The words of former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry are highlighted: “You can’t study at BC Law and not be forever changed by the difference it makes in your approach to the law … it’s a way you deliver justice and make our society stronger.”

The former Bay State senator, the commencement speaker, and the Profile in Courage recipient all oppose legislation to protect religious liberty, an area of particular concern to the Catholic Church, as its rights come under attack in Massachusetts and other states dominated by secularist Democrats. In January 2019, Scott issued a press release condemning “Trump administration rules that would allow employers and institutions of higher education to deny women coverage of contraception based on ‘religious or moral’ objections.”

“Freedom of religion,” Scott emphasized, ” … is not a tool to deny women access to health care.”

In 2017, Congressman Scott joined with Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III in an effort to amend Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. Kennedy is, of course, grandnephew of John F. Kennedy, our first and only Catholic president, in whose memory the Profile in Courage award is dedicated. According to the congressmen’s joint press release, their legislation “comes in response to continued efforts to cite religious belief as grounds to undermine Civil Rights Act protections [and] limit access to healthcare …”

In opposing broad protections for religious institutions, Scott said civil rights “should not be superseded in the name of religious liberty. Civil rights, labor laws, and access to health care should not be violated in the name of religious freedom.” 

In the press release, Scott’s words were seconded by Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for Reproductive Rights and Health at the National Women’s Law Center. “’We’ve seen religion,” Borchelt noted, “used to deny reproductive health care, provide women with fewer benefits and less pay, and fire individuals for their decisions about whether and how to start a family. That is not religious liberty; that is discrimination.”

Clearly, the Kennedy-Scott bill would have a chilling effect upon religious liberty. It presents a particular danger to Catholic institutions that follow Church teaching on abortion, contraception, and family-related matters. The passage of the Kennedy-Scott amendment threatens to prohibit the Catholic Church from abiding by its own Magisterium. 

It’s possible that a version of the Kennedy-Scott legislation could pass the liberal Democrat House under the sway of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It’s probably impossible for the restrictive bill to pass the conservative Republican Senate, which has a higher regard for religious freedom and conscience protection. If by some fluke it should pass both chambers, it would then go to the desk of President Donald Trump, whose administration has worked hard to protect religious liberty.

President Trump would relish the chance to veto it in a heartbeat. Then even the Massachusetts congressional delegation would finally understand that no, Speaker Pelosi is most assuredly not “running the country right now.”

And for that, anyone who values religious liberty and protection for unborn babies can be eternally grateful.


Joseph Tortelli is a freelance writer. Read other columns by Mr. Tortelli here.