The Note: The First Woman Speaker

WASHINGTON, August 4

Ah, the perils of the sloppy use of the Outlook address book.

For reasons we cannot explain without getting our source in trouble, The Note was inadvertently sent this hot-off-the-presses memo from Democratic Congressman George Miller of California at the same time he e-mailed it to his friend (and his party's House Leader) Nancy Pelosi, also of the Golden State.

Miller is one of Pelosi's top political advisers, and a cagey veteran of the Capitol Hill wars. For those of you who don't know him, think one part Barney Frank, one part Steve Elmendorf, and one part CAA agent.

At a time when the big political question of 2006 is whether the Democrats will take back the House, Miller seems to be stepping forward to give his friend some advice about how she can further her goal of winning back the majority and becoming Speaker.

Reaction from Pelosi's office and Miller to this fake memo was not available by press time.

Here it is in its entirety:

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To: The Leader

From: George Miller

Re: Making you Speaker

Date: August 4, 2006

We are right on schedule. Coming out for ethics reform and bipartisanship, and against pork barrel spending and guaranteed chairmanships for Rangel, Waxman, and Conyers were really smart moves to clear away some doubts. But there is more to do.

First of all, the Republicans have the same polling we do: you are surprisingly well known in the districts that will decide if we will take control -- and seen as liberal by a surprisingly large percentage of the people in these same places.

Clearly you see our dilemma. Your political leadership and acumen are invaluable to the party (with some going so far as to say that they are without value altogether; but ignore them).

But while vision and strategery are welcomed by the party, you, yourself, unfortunately are a potential political liability.

So the question then becomes, how do we solve a problem like Pelosi? It's a tough question. You might as well ask: How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand? But I digress.

We know Republicans can't wait to unloose their San Francisco Chronicle canon, starting with this quote from you in a profile published June 9, 1996: "I pride myself in being called a 'liberal,' so I'm not dodging that word." Ouch. Works for Peter Beinart. For a leader of a party trying to capture Purple districts, maybe not so much.

You were beginning to get the idea on "Meet" on Nov. 17, 2002, when you tried to avoid taking the bait from Brother Russert and demurred from his proposed construction that you are as liberal as Tom DeLay is conservative. Good work, but you said, "No. I believe that I may be more progressive than some of my colleagues, and be to the left of center." And let's just say the "No" isn't the part the Republicans are salivating over.

Later today, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will give a tough speech to his party's national meeting in Minneapolis, where you were yesterday, and he is expected to say this about you:

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