New York Times Begs Pelosi Not to Run for Minority Leader
Rep. Nancy Pelosi has already announced that she's running to be House minority leader in spite of last week's defeats. The Democrats' house blog, the New York Times, is out with a piece today begging Pelosi not to run for a return as leader. The editorial reads as if it were written in Fringe's alternate universe:
Nancy Pelosi has been an extremely effective speaker of the House for four years, shepherding hundreds of important bills toward passage and withstanding solid Republican opposition. Her work in passing health care reform and strong ethics oversight achieved what many thought was legislatively impossible.
Yet she never quite got around to pressing Congress to pass a federal budget this year, which is actually one of the Congress' main duties. Neither of those other initiatives mentioned by the Times are, and of the two mentioned, ObamaCare is among the direct causes of the Democrats' defeat.
If Ms. Pelosi had been a more persuasive communicator, she could have batted away the ludicrous caricature of her painted by Republicans across the country as some kind of fur-hatted commissar jamming her diktats down the public’s throat.
That "ludicrous caricature" resulted from, on the one hand, Pelosi et al. passing ObamaCare even though the majority of the people clearly didn't want it, while on the other hand, she actually argued that we have to pass the bill before we can even find out what's in it, while on the gripping hand, she rode around in military jets at taxpayer expense and acted like an imperial queen. The only thing about the "caricature" that wasn't true is the bit about the fur hat, and the Times made that part up to ridicule the otherwise accurate picture of Pelosi as elitist. Everyone knows Pelosi wouldn't wear a fur hat anyway. It would ruin relations with her far left base.
Note also, the Times agrees with the larger lefty Democratic talking point that has emerged from Tuesday; namely, that they lost because their communications were insufficient, not because the voters rejected the Democrats' agenda. The Times, like the folks atop the Democratic Party, still don't get that it wasn't communications that cost them the election, it was policy.
If communications were really the problem, why does lead Democratic spokesman Robert Gibbs still have a job? If the Democrats really believed their own rhetoric, Democratic communicators' heads would be rolling from one end of Washington to the other, with Gibbs' own melon leading the macabre parade. And Pelosi wouldn't even have a shot at a committee chairmanship, much less retain her post atop her party: the "communications" of returning her to leadership would be problematic, to say the least, whether she's actually a good leader or not.
On this note the Times seems to agree with a group within the Democratic caucus. Fox has a draft letter going around the Hill from Democrats to Pelosi, arguing that she should not remain at the head of their party. Though the letter's basic point about replacing Pelosi is sound, its reasoning is delusional:
The letter goes on to say "Madam Speaker, fairly or unfairly, Republicans made you the face of the resentment and disagreement in our races. While we commend your years of service to our party and your leadership through many tough times, we respectfully ask that you step aside as the top Democrat in the House."
The letter says that the defeated members "fear that Republicans will further demonize you, and in so doing, they will scare potential candidates out. The prospect of having to run against their own party leadership, in addition to their Republican opponent is simply too daunting."
The "fairly or unfairly" line is a nice comic touch. Making Pelosi the "face" of the party was easy to do when so-called Blue Dogs like Chet Edwards voted with her about 97% of the time. And by electing her speaker of the House, Democrats themselves made Pelosi the face of their party. Republicans didn't do that. They had no power to do that. If they could have chosen a more moderate speaker from among the Dem ranks in 2006, they almost surely would have just to make their lives easier, but they didn't have the numbers. It was Pelosi who chose to do that Walk of Triumph with the giant gavel when she took the reins in 2007. It was Pelosi who yelled "Let's hear it for the power" when she took over. So once again, the Democrats are claiming "victim" status where it doesn't belong at all. They are victims of their own actions, if they are victims at all. Or they're victims of Republicans saying things about them that were true.
The letter, by the way, is from "Defeated Members." That's why it's unlikely to persuade Pelosi on the merits. They're not around; she still is. She can claim or believe that they lost for the stated "communications" reason, not because they voted with her and it cost them their seats while earning their party crushing defeats down the ballot.
Meanwhile, practically the only viable Democrat left in the South, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, doesn't seem to be buying the "poor communications" line. Bredesen is arguing that the top Democrats are still just out of touch:
“There doesn’t seem to be anybody in the White House who’s got any idea what it’s like to lie awake at night worried about money and worried about things slipping away,” said retiring Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat. “They’re all intellectually smart. They’ve got their numbers. But they don’t feel any of it, and I think people sense that.”
He has a point here: Obama and most of his cronies hail from either academic or activist backgrounds, neither of which has much in common with anyone who has ever had to meet a bottom line or a payroll. Success in activism is based largely on creating the appearance of success in order to attract more liberal foundation funding, while success in business tends to be backed up by real numbers and actual profits against expenses and losses. It's telling that Democratic stronghold California rejected two women who have had huge success in business in favor of Democrats who have liberal activism in their DNA. They'll get the results they voted for, unfortunately.
Meanwhile back in Washington, the Democratic caucus in the House got smaller last week, and because several moderates and Blue Dogs were defeated, it got skewed even more to the left. This ironically may make Pelosi stronger among House Democrats than she was before, at just the time the Bredesens of the world think the party needs to signal that it got Tuesday's message. If the letter from the Defeated Members is any indication, even they don't get it yet:
This is a difficult letter to write, because we admire your commitment, your drive, and your conviction. You have been an historic figure in our great nation, and for that we are all proud, as should you be. Nonetheless, we each experienced how Republican demonization of you and your leadership contributed to our defeat.