Students of history will no doubt recall how Marie Antoinette, when told the French people were starving and asking for bread, supposedly said: “Let them eat cake.” It is a tale, albeit possibly apocryphal, that has come to symbolize unfeeling leadership in a time of crisis that leads to revolution.

The political elites in Washington would do well to remember the story, especially now. The Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses weather the economic consequences of the COVID-19 shutdown has run out of money, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her lackeys like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are blocking Congress from appropriating additional funds, while people from all walks of life are facing ruin.

Pelosi seems to regard this crisis as an opportunity to force the Republicans to agree to the adoption of her left-wing agenda. And, as she has already shown once during the COVID-19 crisis, she is willing to make struggling Americans wait until she gets her way.

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Consider what she wants in exchange for additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. Among her demands is a bailout of the U.S. Postal Service, designed to help the Democrats’ long-held desire for federal elections conducted by mail be made a reality. She and her party have stated that, as far as they are concerned, voter fraud is a figment of the collective conservative imagination. It’s not, as journalist John Fund has amply demonstrated in his book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. 

But this isn’t the only wrench Pelosi has tried to throw into the recovery. She and her friends have tried to drop into the stimulus packages, sometimes successfully, measures that would allow unions to organize worksites without companies being able to show why that might be disadvantageous for workers, require airlines to adhere to new emissions requirements, mandate racial and gender diversity on corporate boards and give $25 million in emergency funding to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Looking over that list, and there’s lots more than could be on it, it’s as though Donald Trump didn’t win the election. Pelosi’s behaving like her party and its agenda are what carried the day in 2016, and she’s determined to cram it down our throats, consequences be damned. Some might call that leadership, but it’s more like tyranny.

Notice as well how the Republicans—who have their own long list of wants, including the abolition of the Davis-Bacon Act, a national “right to work” law, the retroactive indexation of capital gains to remove inflation from the calculation of what constitutes a gain, the repeal of Obamacare, tort reform and an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood—aren’t using the coronavirus crisis to push these issues on the American people. They’re focused on keeping the economic liquid and keeping businesses from failing.

None of this seems to be getting through to the American people. Hopefully, they’ll catch on, thanks to Pelosi’s considerable hubris, which, when she’s winning, causes her to misstep badly—as she did the other night, while she was being interviewed by James Cordon on his late-night CBS talk show.

Standing in front of shiny, expensive appliances, Pelosi showed off her ample supply of designer ice cream, gelato and other frozen treats. Perhaps she thought that sharing her social distancing diet would make her relatable, but what it showed is how far out of touch she is. She’s buying ice cream by mail and restocking her supply for Easter when many Americans can’t even find a decent roll of toilet tissue. It’s her version of “Let them eat cake,” and hopefully she’ll be made to pay the price for her insensitivity later this year.

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