Pelosi: Do the Democrats need a new leader?
“There’s an insurrection brewing in the House of Pelosi,” said Tim Dickinson and Andy Kroll in RollingStone.com. The 78-year-old former speaker has the support of most House Democrats to return to her old leadership position, but is now facing a “block-Pelosi” effort by a small faction that wants fresh blood leading the House. At least 16 Democrats signed their names to a “Dear Colleague” letter this week announcing their intention to vote against Pelosi when the House chooses a new speaker in January, leaving her short of the 218 she needs to retake the gavel. “It’s about a vision for the future,” said Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a 40-year-old former Marine officer. “We’ve become a party that’s just anti-Trump.” No sane Democrat disputes Pelosi’s qualifications, said E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post. Her “toughness, focus, and legislative skill” are legendary on Capitol Hill, as is her fundraising prowess, and she just helped lead the Democrats’ effort to retake the House. As Rep. Donna Shalala said this week, Pelosi has a talent for “herding cats” that’s sorely needed by any leader of the diverse, unruly House Democratic Caucus. But some Democratic centrists and progressives actively campaigned on a promise to vote against her speakership, citing her age and her 22 percent national approval rating. That means that before the next Congress even gets underway, Pelosi will have to pass “the supreme test of her wizardry.”
The “rebellion” against Pelosi is “truly absurd,” said Paul Waldman, also in The Washington Post. Those challenging Pelosi have yet to suggest a better candidate. Why? Because there isn’t one. Pelosi is arguably “the most effective congressional legislator in half a century” for either party, helping shepherd banking reform, a huge stimulus package, and other measures through the House when she was speaker. The main reason cited by her Democratic opponents for replacing her is that Republicans have successfully demonized her as a San Francisco liberal. Don’t the rebels understand that “Republicans will demonize anyone who leads the Democrats?” She may have to “work for it,” said Rich Lowry in NationalReview.com, but “Nancy Pelosi will be speaker.” In the present climate, Democrats aren’t going to dethrone the most powerful woman in U.S. political history, especially not when the liberal media is branding her opponents as “sexist ingrates.”
Sorry, said Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice in WashingtonPost.com, but it’s absurd to insist that out of 232 House Democrats, “there is only one person capable of doing this job.” The voters who just elected us want change, not more of the same. That’s why some of us campaigned explicitly on a vow to oppose Pelosi. How will it look if we now abandon that promise after “pressure, intimidation, and arm-twisting” from the Washington establishment?
“There will be plenty of time for a change in leadership,” said former Rep. Donna Edwards in The Washington Post, and Pelosi herself has pledged to be a “transitional leader” and groom successors. Right now, though, Democrats should have higher priorities—including saving the Affordable Care Act and reining in President Trump—and they need a savvy, experienced leader “to get these things done.” Perhaps so, said Michelle Cottle in The New York Times, but a good old-fashioned leadership fight can actually help the Democrats clarify their thinking before they take over in January. “Members old and new need to air their grievances,” decide on the party’s core mission and message, and then “get focused and pull together for the real fights to come.” ■