Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) beat back a challenge from "Blue Dog" Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), 150–43, to emerge as House Democrats' choice for minority leader in the next Congress. Though she won by a wide margin, the tally was still seen as a sign that many in the caucus are uncomfortable with her leadership. Given Pelosi's unpopularity nationally, and the "shellacking" her caucus just endured, why didn't Democrats pick a new public face for the party? (Watch a Fox News discussion about Pelosi's re-election)
They need her experience: Pelosi "has a great deal of work to do to rebuild the confidence of her caucus," says John Nichols in The Nation. But she won a "sufficient mandate" to lead because "she has the skills" and "generally well-regarded political instincts" to be an effective minority leader, again. That's the reason House Democrats chose her 10 years ago, and it still applies.
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Democrats are masochistic and delusional: After the House Democrats' drubbing, keeping Pelosi on is "an act of electoral self-wounding that calls for psychiatric intervention," says Clive Crook in The Atlantic. If they chose her because they think her ideas are right, that would be somewhat "admirable." But they seem to think Americans agree with them, and that "calls into question [their] sanity," and their seriousness about winning back the majority.
There was no one else to choose: Keeping an "unpopular leader" may seem like a "self-defeating move" from "a public relations perspective," say Jonathan Allen and John F. Harris in Politico. And maybe it is. But House Democrats want a strong fighter sticking up for their interests, especially to the Obama White House, and no credible challenger stepped up. Whether you love Pelosi or hate her, when it comes to fundraising and corralling votes, "she's got game."
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