Steve Scalise, Nancy Pelosi and a return to civility, could it really be?
Sometimes terrible tragedies can bring us together, and I’m hopeful that somehow a lasting good will come out of the ballfield shooting in Alexandria, Va. And maybe even a rebirth of civility, which has virtually disappeared from politics, and perhaps our culture as well.
Rep. Steve Scalise, who’s been fighting it out in a hospital in Washington, D.C., is an old friend of mine. I watched as he rose through the House ranks to become the majority whip. Like everyone else, I’m praying for his full recovery. He’s a wonderful man.
And, like most everyone else, I was happy to hear President Donald Trump talking about unity in the wake of the shooting. He said, “We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.”
I can say the same for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who, true to form, spoke beautifully and passionately from the House floor, saying, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. . . . I ask each of you to join me to resolve to come together.”
But I want to put a spotlight on one person who really surprised me with unexpected remarks. She got me thinking — praying — that maybe, just maybe, some lasting good will come out of this tragedy.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also spoke on the House floor in the hours after the shooting. She said her prayers were with Scalise, the Capitol Police and the others hit on that ballfield.
And she said much more. “You may not know this, my colleagues, but every time I pray, which is very frequently, and certainly every Sunday, I pray for all of you. All of you, together,” she said. “In the earlier years, I used to pray for your happiness, for the fact that we would work together, heed the words of President Kennedy in the closing of his inaugural address, when he said . . . ‘God’s work must truly be our own.’ ”
That’s a central theme in my book “JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity,” which I wrote with Brian Domitrovic. Presidents Reagan and Kennedy were civil in public, as they sought to persuade their opponents, not smear them. And they both reached across the aisle to achieve their policy goals.
It’s something we need to return to — desperately. And Pelosi spoke in that spirit.
“How do we view what God’s will is for us?” she asked. “How do we come together to give confidence to the American people? As our founders intended, we would have our disagreements and we would debate them, and we would have confidence in our beliefs and humility to listen to others.”
To listen to others.
For a long time, I have been talking about the need for a rebirth of civility. We cannot continue the meanness, the personal slurs and the polarizing attacks, all of which are doing great harm to America.
And now, sparked by tragedy, Pelosi seems to have said: Let us come together. Let us have civility in our discussions. Let us have a sense of humanity, and maybe even a sense of caring. Let us pray for ourselves and the rest of the country. Let’s do this together.
She did add: “And I pray for Donald Trump, that his presidency will be successful, and that his family will be safe. Because it is about family.”
When did you ever think you would hear her say that? It was a welcome surprise.
No, I’m not here to defend her politics. I’m a conservative. She’s a liberal. I have my beliefs. She has her beliefs. The battle of ideas must go on.
But our tone, our style, our civility, our ability to listen — it seems to me that those have been missing for so many years.
The blame is on all sides. It’s in the executive branch, the Senate, the House. Let’s add the media and academia, as well. No one in this game is clean.
The political divide is large — across taxes, health care and a whole raft of tough agenda items. I get that.
I’m just saying, if Nancy Pelosi, who has been in Washington a good long while, is coming out and speaking of unity, civility and humility, it’s worth giving it a listen.
Many of my friends disagree with this Pelosi kudos. Some believe I am hopelessly naive. They may be right.
But right now, today, I choose to believe that she means for all of us to be calm, to be humble, to be civil and to work together.
I’m praying for that because, if that’s the case, we will get important things done to help this country and one another.
Let’s hope and pray that something is changing here.
* Lawrence Kudlow is an American conservative commentator, economic analyst and television personality.