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Democrats' Growing Discontent Hints at Trouble in Pelosi Land

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Pelosi Grumblings in the People’s House

While I have never agreed with her on policy, I’ve long sung the praises of Nancy Pelosi’s prowess as a politician. There’s no point in not acknowledging when the opposition’s got game. A lesser politician in her leadership position would have been nudged into retirement after the shellacking that House Democrats got in 2010. Pelosi not only hung on but became speaker of the House for a second time.

Speaker Pelosi’s encore performance hasn’t been nearly as impressive as her first time around, when she got people to fall on their swords to help the Obamacare cause.

When she arrived to take the gavel for the second time she was greeted by a commie gnat in the form of one Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Pelosi
 (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

AOC and her freshman “squad” wasted no time in letting Granny Boxwine know that the kids weren’t there to behave. As soon as they had been given office space they began pressuring their leader to pursue the impeachment of President Trump, a route that the Speaker thought imprudent. AOC refused to respect her elder and kept at it.

Pelosi resisted for quite a while but eventually caved to the kids.

The only thing the Democrats got out of that was a new BFF in Mitt Romney, a guy who most Republicans don’t want around anyway.

It was impossible to not marvel at the power shift that happened in 2019 in the House Democratic caucus. It was almost as if AOC had become the de facto speaker.

That power shift became even more apparent in the recent Massachusetts Democratic primary. Nancy Pelosi endorsed Joe Kennedy’s upset bid while AOC became a vocal supporter of the incumbent, Ed Markey. Markey did something that hadn’t been done before in the Bay State: he defeated a Kennedy in an election.

It certainly seems that Pelosi is on the ropes a bit right now, but she keeps getting help to get off of them.

This is from the Politico Playbook newsletter on Thursday:

DOWN AND OUT, under withering criticism, pinned on the mat in the wrestling match of internal House politics, PELOSI has been thrown lifeline after lifeline by REPUBLICANS. It helps illustrate the often unusual rhythms of internal Washington politics, and the strategic discord that can plague one party.

ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, the clutch of middle-of-the-road Democrats who made PELOSI speaker suggested her strategy in the Covid relief negotiations was not working. Change course, they urged, to help break the monthslong logjam. It was a rare wave of on-the-record discontent with PELOSI, who typically rules her caucus with an iron fist. With talks on ice and Congress on the brink of leaving town, her leadership team started to mull whether they should schedule a series of votes to quell the uprising. They seemed frozen.

BUT THEN, IN SWOOPED PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, suggesting he wanted a giant relief deal — just like PELOSI, and against the wishes of almost all senior Republicans. This immediately turned the questioning on the GOP, and reporters began asking whether Republicans supported the president’s position. (They did not.) But if TRUMP wanted a big deal, why would PELOSI take to the floor with a small deal? She had passed a big one, and it was now up to Republicans to execute for their president.

BY WEDNESDAY EVENING, with the attention shifting back to PELOSI, our colleagues MEL ZANONA and JOHN BRESNAHAN scooped that Republicans were considering forcing a quixotic vote on tossing PELOSI out of the speakership. It’s a measure that would be sure to fail. But it would serve to unify House Democrats around the speaker in the middle of the pandemic. Democrats were already asking: Who is thinking about stuff like this when thousands of Americans are dying?

RARELY IN WASHINGTON does a leader get so lucky. PELOSI is far from a perfect pol — in fact, there’s no such thing — but her adversaries in the White House and on Capitol Hill seem to be unable or unwilling to let her flail.

Rick has more on Trump’s call for a bigger stimulus bill here.

The last point of the Politico piece is interesting. I truly believe that both sides have a vested interest in propping up Pelosi for a while longer because everyone is nervous about AOC’s growing power.

Pelosi
 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

While every aspect of our lives is awash in uncertainty the status quo can be comforting, even if one has been opposed to that status quo most of the time.

Nancy Pelosi is the devil that the Republicans know best. AOC is probably only showing us the tip of the socialist iceberg thus far. That’s a no-brainer for the Republicans.

It will be interesting to see if the results of the November election strengthen or weaken Pelosi. This is counterintuitive, but Pelosi may be better off with a Trump victory and some Republican gains in the House. The Democrats may get a little spooked by the prospect of a regime change in leadership in that scenario.

One thing is certain: Nancy Pelosi’s grip on power has been considerably weakened. She seems like the type who won’t leave until everyone in the room is pushing her out the door, however.

We all know who is going to be at the head of that line.

Pandemic Thoughts: Maybe Karma Is Punishing Us for Nancy Pelosi

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PJ Media Senior Columnist and Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author ofDon’t Let the Hippies ShowerandStraight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.” His columns appear twice a week.