Editorial: Pelosi’s turn to address the war

So it appears that “San Francisco values,” so foolishly maligned by the Republicans in the days leading up to their electoral wipeout, have been heard from nationwide. They may even prevail in the lower chamber of Congress, as The City’s own Nancy Pelosi — to whom go our hearty congratulations — assumes the speakership.

San Franciscans may not be so isolated from the heartland after all, though the notion may grate on the self-alienated among us. To be sure, a phrase meant to betoken special values, like The City itself, carries with it a foggy good-heartedness that can be difficult to define.

Even the most fervent red-staters, of course, believe they favor peace. And freedom. And tolerance. And openness. We cannot here claim a copyright on those fine words, so brimming with incontestable virtue. The Bush Republicans believe peace must be secured by military victory. Likewise, they suppose that tolerance flows from free speech, which can be uncomfortable to the politically correct left.

Such left-right clashes, and they are more than semantic subtleties, were not settled by the continental groundswell that on Tuesday returned the Democrats to power on Capitol Hill. Americans opted for split government, which enables them to go about their daily business undisturbed, and for a clear course correction in Iraq.

As we wrote in our endorsement of her re-election, Rep. Pelosi may be the historic figure who can restore American confidence. Though a tough political battler, she is suited ideally to launch a constructive conversation on that “new direction” she and her party’s leaders promised.

Accurately or not, the “Pelosi Democrats” are described by their competitors as American retreatists. Paradoxically, that gives her the power to signal to this country’s terrorist enemies that they should not feel emboldened by our political shift. President Bush on Wednesday sent exactly that message. Speaker-in-waiting Pelosi must not let another day go by without expressing solidarity with the commander in chief.

Though little-noticed amid America’s noisy elections, an ominous message surfaced Wednesday from the military wing of Hamas. The Palestinian rulers, regrouping after their recent mini-war with Israel, called for accelerated attacks on U.S. targets. The call to arms, punishment for the U.S. alliance with Jerusalem, no doubt misread our election returns.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also threatened Europe, menacingly warning that “the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt.” We’ve not yet heard a plan from the Democrats on how to deal with this gathering catastrophe.

On Monday we expressed our concern that American voters, poised to punish Republicans, may be “sleepwalking” toward the very storm Ahmadinejad and his global jihadists now threaten. We would be much reassured if Nancy Pelosi articulated an awakening.

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