Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The End Of Pelosi?

As we saw in the latest Commentarama poll, most of you (80% in fact) think Nancy Pelosi will be booted from the Democratic leadership after the November debacle. While I don’t dispute that the odds favor her ejection, let me point out why this might not be a foregone conclusion. Surprised?

The public has certainly soured on Pelosi. Indeed, the only public figures with higher negatives than Pelosi are Hitler and Satan, and Satan’s got stronger positives. But the public doesn’t get to vote on Pelosi. If they did, she would be tied to a stake right now blowing at the flames. In fact, it’s not even Democrats who get to make this decision. No. Only House Democrats get to vote on Pelosi, and they don’t think like you.

As far as the Democratic public is concerned, the argument for dumping Pelosi is simple. Beginning in 2006, the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and Pelosi became the media-anointed “most powerful Speaker in history.” But after four years of Democratic control over the House and two years of control over every nook and cranny of government, the Democrats have remarkably little to show for it. They passed a huge stimulus that went to waste. They passed a version of ObamaCare that was so watered-down the Kool-Aid flavor was barely recognizable. They did Wall Street’s bidding. They were corrupt. And now they’re about to hand power back to the Republicans in one of the worst tidal wave elections in history.

But here is the view from the Democrats in the House. Pelosi has been a great Speaker. She managed to pass a wildly progressive agenda that died in the Senate. . . a den of cowards who subverted everything the House did. Moreover, the Democrats’ current unpopularity isn’t Pelosi’s fault, it’s the fault of a combination of two factors that include (1) a mysteriously bad economy that seems to be the result of collusion by Republican business interests refusing to hire employees, and (2) an Obama administration that has never once defended their values, which hasn’t had the will to follow through on its own rhetoric, and which caved to even token Republican resistance.

Additionally, Pelosi raised tens of millions of dollars for individual Democratic candidates, something she is very good at, and many of them owe her. Further, Pelosi handpicked almost all of the committee chairmanships, and thus, more Democrats owe her.

Then there’s something else to consider: who would replace her? Generally speaking, there are two House Democrats who have tangled with Pelosi. But neither appears up to the task.

The first was California Rep. Jane Harman (mucho bad blood). Harman was Pelosi’s biggest rival when Pelosi assumed the Speaker job. What’s more, Harman’s husband recently bought Newsweek, which could easily become the headquarters of an anti-Pelosi media campaign. But Harman is (wrongly) considered a “moderate” Democrat. Indeed, she once belonged to the Democratic Leadership Council, a group determined to pull the Democrats back from the brink of socialism. That’s a problem.

A similar problem exists for the other possible candidate: Steny Hoyer. Hoyer is the number two Democrat in the House, and he and Pelosi have a very strained relationship. Their bad blood began when Pelosi defeated Hoyer for the job of Minority Whip in 2002. Then, in 2006, Hoyer ran against Pelosi’s hand-chosen candidate (John Murtha) for Majority Leader. Hoyer defeated the scandal plagued Murtha 149 to 86. Since that time, Hoyer has campaigned heavily for other Democratic House members and has on some occasions taken stands that wonks have interpreted as intended to embarrass Pelosi, such as demanding that she push through with the full agenda even when it became clear the Senate would never vote on these proposals.

But Hoyer is a bit of an emotionless bootlicker. He’s not the guy to inspire passion in a party that traffics in emotion rather than reason. Moreover, while Hoyer is not a moderate himself, to pull off the 149-86 upset, Hoyer relied on the support of moderates. . . the same group to which Harman would appeal (although her appeal has been diminished because of an espionage-related scandal, where she was twice caught trying to lobby the Justice Department on behalf of Israeli spies).

So is the problem that Hoyer and Harman will split the moderate vote? No. The problem is that there won’t be any moderates left in the House after the election. All those “bluedog” Democrats the media likes to talk about were hand-picked by Rahm Emmanuel with the idea of taking Republican-leaning seats from the Republicans. Those seats will all change hands in November, along with quite a few Democratic-leaning seats. What will be left will be the Democrats in the hard-left districts, districts that match Pelosi’s politics.

Thus, in a contest between Pelosi, who delivered on a far left agenda, who raised money for most House Democrats, who appointed every committee chair and party leader except Hoyer. . . . and Hoyer, who is bland but has done some campaigning, the far-left nutjobs who get to vote are not likely to favor the rhetorically more moderate Hoyer. That means they are likely to vote for Pelosi again.

Could Pelosi really survive? John Boehner survived the debacle of 2008 to remain Minority Leader. The last Speaker to be tossed out of the leadership by their party was Republican Joseph William Martin, Jr. after the Republicans lost the majority in 1958. Before Martin, I’ve found none who were ejected from leadership as far back as the Civil War and probably a lot longer than that -- though several resigned and a couple lost re-election to Congress.

So what are the odds Pelosi will survive? That’s a lot closer question than you would think, isn’t it?

**** By the way, don't forget to pass around the Election Guide to remind people why they need to vote the Democrats out!****


Notawonk said...

"emotionless bootlicker" will be my catch-phrase of the day! thank goodness my mouth wasn't full of coffee when i read it...

and as always, i leave here thinking about something i hadn't really thought about.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, those are interesting points I hadn't thought of. Also, it's been reported that Pelosi basically gave all the Blue Dogs the green light to bash her in their re-election campaigns, meaning they might not be all that sincere and, if a few of them do survive the onslaught, they may or may not vote to kick her out.

I don't know if I'm totally convinced, though. I think if things are bad enough, the House Dems may become convinced of the need to regroup and get some new leadership. Like you said with Obama in several earlier posts, they can never become disillusioned with their ideology, but they can become disillusioned with the people representing it.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, I'm glad to be of service! ;-)

I think it's an interesting issue. It seems like Pelosi should go because she's steered them toward total disaster, but things in politics are no always so clear. Glad you liked it!

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I'm glad you found it interesting!

I'm not sure which way this will go honestly, but I think it's not as clear as everyone thinks. I think it will all come down to (1) do they blame her or someone else, like Harry Reid or Obama, and (2) is there a credible alternative. I'm not sure that House Democrats will answer either of those questions with a "yes."

In terms of them attacking her, I actually put no faith in that. That's an old Democratic game. Democrats go to Washington, do everything the far left party leadership wants, then go home and attack that same leadership to try to pretend to the voters that they aren't associated with that leadership. Sadly, voters have bought into that for decades now.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I saw this coming (for once) back in '06, when all the people who are in trouble now got elected on the premise of being conservative Democrats. Under Pelosi's leadership? Not likely.

Actually, I think you could make the argument that it might be better if Pelosi doesn't lose her leadership spot, from the point of view of 2012. The Republicans are going to need the Democrats' numbers to stay negative, and if the old leaders are maintained, that won't be hard to do. It would be nearly as easy, I think, to use Pelosi as a haunting specter in the next election. Jane Harman or Steny Hoyer, not so much.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I agree on both counts.

I think it would help us out a lot if Pelosi stayed in charge of their party. Not only is she highly hated throughout the country -- so much so that she can't appear publicly when she goes to raise money for Democrats -- but it would also show that the Democrats haven't changed and don't intend to change. So I'm all for it.

I also wondered what was going to happen in 2006. Some of those people were actually fairly conservative, which made it sound like a huge collision was coming -- especially after Pelosi made it clear that they were cannon fodder in her eyes.

But of course, we forgot the one key factor -- they are Democrats. So doing the bidding of their leaders over the interests of the public was not a huge deal for them.

And if you watched, none of them stood up to their leadership. On a few votes, they got permission to vote against the majority, but they never did it without permission. And every other vote went with the leadership. That's why some of the ones claiming to be independent still racked up a 99% "voted with Pelosi" percentage.

LL said...

You have to wonder what a person would think when the American people put them "lower than Satan" on the bad list...

And you're absolutely right that Pelosi is effective in furthering the Party's agenda. She has been one of the most effective Speakers of the House in my lifetime. One might argue that she's clearly up there with Tip O'Neil. She has all the grace and poise of a pit viper, but in absolute political terms, her reign as Speaker has been meteoric. (lack of a need for a Halloween mask to scare small children notwithstanding)

AndrewPrice said...

LL, Sadly, I agree. From my perspective, Pelosi has been an utter monster. And I think her agenda has been what has destroyed their party. BUT if you look only at her achievements from a party perspective, she got through legislation that would have pushed this country much further left than anyone ever thought possible -- things they've been after for decades and never even managed to get to a vote.

The real problem for them came in the Senate. If Reid has been as effective, they could have gotten massive amounts of their policies into place -- probably enough that we would have spent the next 60 years undoing what they did.

I think it's this difference that gives her a chance. The public hates her, but other House members may see her as highly effective -- especially those left after the election. And if they blame Reid or Obama, they may well decide to stick with her.

As for having lower approvals than Satan, you do have to wonder. What's strange though is that she seems to revel in having the public hate her. I'm not one to worry about public opinion, but to revel in being hated is twisted.

Joel Farnham said...


To get rid of Pelosi, you will need a wooden stake, wolfsbane and a garlic necklace. You must find an old oak tree. The timing of the attack must be when the moon is full.

After the attack bury her by the old oak tree during a full moon. Bury her with the wolfsbane and garlic. You can keep the stake or bury it with her. Burn the tree after she is buried.

Do these things in this manner will rid you of Pelosi.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Now that is old school politics! LOL!

I'm kind of torn on this issue -- not the stake thing, I'm entire in favor of that one -- but on whether or not I want to see her lose the leadership.

On the one hand, she makes a great advertisement for why people should be opposed to the Democrats. But on the other hand, there would be something nice about watching her rejected by her own people, sitting in the back benches twiddling her thumbs as the Republicans undo everything she "achieved."

Tam said...

Joel, I was just going to say she is harder to get rid of than a cockroach, but your description seems more accurate.

I have a feeling that this discussion, while interesting, will be rendered meaningless by the tsunami coming in 2 weeks (TWO WEEKS.....yaaaaayyyyyy!!!) She may "decide to lead" the minority party, but I think her days as Speaker are numbered.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, I have no doubt that she's finished as Speaker -- and that makes me happy. This was just about whether or not she would be able to stay on as Minority Leader.

And speaking of her Speakership, Politico said today that 99 seats are in danger, ABC says 100, and apparently Obama sent out a fund raising letter that said 15 Senate seats are in danger! How's that for a feel good bit of news?!

I think I like the cockroach analogy better than the Vampire one, Vampires seem nicer somehow than cockroaches! :-)

Joel Farnham said...


I want her to stay around. If only to watch her get more and more crazy as the changes come. It depends more on how galling it will be for her to go hat in hand to the Conservatives for some pet project of hers.

I think she will quit in protest if ObamaCare gets repealed. Which wont happen until 2012.

She might even quit when she loses the jet. What I would like to see happen? The jet she is using flies her out to a small town in a red state. She gets off. The crew tells her it will take about thirty minutes to fix the small problem. She wanders around the airport or heads for the bar to wait. The crew leaves a note and takes off while she is waiting. The note simply states, "The American People need this jet back."

Tam said...

I guess it was too early to let the awake half of my brain fill in the gaps left by the asleep half, and I really should have saved my comments for after carefully reading with a fully-awake brain. Regardless, TWO WEEKS! YYYYAAAAAYYY!!!! And I stand by my cockroach comment.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, LOL! That's ok, I don't mind and I love to see that kind of enthusiasm! Two weeks is right and (like you) I am SOOOOOOO looking forward to this! It's like waiting to hear that your country is about to be saved from a disaster.

Tennessee Jed said...

The key is that if Pelosi keeps her leadership spot, it be as minority leader. I actually used to enjoy her pathetic retorts during state of the union. I agree she has been effective in many ways, but politically, she pisses most of America off so much, that keeping her in the public eye is not a bad idea.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Speaking as a denizen of the streets of San Francisco, I think you're very likely to be right about Pelosi hanging onto her leadership position. If they can prop her up after death, and keep that botox smile on her face, she'll continue to get re-elected to the House and have seniority that the two Elizabeths and Victoria in England would envy. Seniority counts very heavily in politics, and particularly Democratic politics.

On the other hand, as you've argued, that means she will be leading a party of leftists who can no longer hide behind "conservative" blue dogs. If Republicans win the House handily, and do their job right, and don't turn into Democrats in sheeps' clothing, Pelosi will be leading the party of Carthage against the party of Rome.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I can honestly say that is the funniest thing I've heard in weeks! I can actually visualize her sitting in an airport somewhere in Kansas staring at the spot where the plane used to be... and the note in her hand.

In fact, that might be a great beginning for a film: "Pelosi's Great Adventure" as she tries to hitchhike her way home to San Fran after her credit cards are cut off and her former supporters stop answering her cell phone calls.

This could seriously be the next great conservative film!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, My mind says that having her as Minority Leader would be great for keeping the energy up on our side, and would keep the Democrats from recovering.

Buuuuuut my black heart would like to see her lose all the power and glory that she attained. . . she deserves the "utter humiliation" treatment.

Plus, I love Joel's plane take-away idea!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Leader of Carthage! I love it!

I think the key in all of this will be that the leftist Democrats just don't care about the public's view of them. They seriously believe that if they can get their leftism put into law, the public will come around. So they may well be happy to be lead by Pelosi as queen of a very small pure party rather than someone promising them a return to power based on diluted policies. . . in other words, they choose deluded over diluted.

StanH said...

My guess she’ll retire from the congress, like Jim Wright, Thomas Foley, Newt Gingrich, etc. Once you have the taste of the throne it’s hard to become a backbencher again.

I know Hannibal never was able to cease Rome, however he was a brilliant tactician and to this day, it’s considered cursing aloud of sorts to say in modern Rome, “Hannibal’s at the gate.” I wonder in two thousand plus years from now, will the American people still be saying, “Pelosi’s at the gate,.” …or will it be “Barry’s at the gate,” …or maybe inside the gate?

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, There is a long list of Speakers who resigned after some scandal or another brought them down right before the other party took over. Pelosi is awash in scandal, but so far the MSM has ignored those. If they decide to get rid of her, I could see them finally going after her for these.

I also think you might be right about her wanting to step down rather than take a promotion. I guess we'll see.

I would like to see "to Pelosi" enter the lexicon as meaning something like "really messing up the perfect situation that falls into your lap."

Ed said...

I'd like to see her get kicked out by her own people and have to sit there for two years watching everything fall apart for them until she tried to win her job back and ends up splitting their party, but I see why you think she won't lose the job and you could be right.

T_Rav said...

Hmmm...and now apparently a Democratic congressman is saying that Pelosi will not run again for Speaker. Probably just blowing smoke, of course, BUT...curiouser and curiouser.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I'm not saying she will stick around, but I am saying that it is not a foregone conclusion that she will be tossed out. There are many more issues to be considered than just her popularity.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I never put any faith in comments like that because the Democrats are known liars to try to deflect bad PR from their problems.

Also, this sounds like a good way for her to save face. She lets it slip that she won't run again.... if the election is a disaster, then she "made her decision" before the disaster. But if things go better than expected, then she denies ever saying it.

One thing it does show, however, is that this issue is one that is affecting them in the election!

AndrewPrice said...

Speaking of the election, by the way, I see that early voting in Nevada is favoring Republican turn out by around 7%. I know more Republicans vote early that Democrats, but that's still something like a 5% swing that should be added to the poll numbers!

Notawonk said...

andrew: head's up! linking your election guide again tomorrow.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Patti! I'm always happy for a link! And as you know, I do enjoy your site a lot.

DUQ said...

No! Not more Pelosi! What kind of sin did our country comit to be saddled with this woman?!

CrispyRice said...

I follow your reasoning, Andrew, but I'm hoping any moderate Dems left will seize this as an opportunity to dump her!

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Yes, sorry, this could mean more Pelosi. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I think they will try... but there won't be any left. They are all in losing races right now. I suspect this next Congress will be the most ideologically separated since the Civil War.

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