Republicans Celebrate Pelosi’s Return

November 6th, 2010

Perhaps the only thing more demoralizing than this week’s midterm loss of Congress is Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that she will seek the Minority Leader’s position. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Pelosi would be the first Majority Leader since Sam Rayburn in 1948 to accept a demotion to Minority Leader.

Let me be clear. Nancy Pelosi has been a remarkably effective speaker in terms of getting things done. I wrote previously that Pelosi, Reid and Obama have done more in two years than most presidents do in two terms, and it’s worth noting that even more would have been accomplished if the bills that passed by Nancy Pelosi’s House would have passed the Senate.

But despite legislative success, Pelosi has often been an inarticulate spokesperson for Democratic causes and, as a female San Francisco liberal, she has been a lighning rod for the opposition party, not unlike both Newt Gingrich in the late 1990′s and Tom Delay in the last decade.  Her term as Speaker ended with a historic defeat propelled by the fact that many of the candidates won by effectively nationalizing the elections and running against the Speaker. 

A few months ago, I wrote about the irony of 2010, which is that losing the House and Senate might be a better outcome for Barack Obama’s electoral fortunes (if not his legislative ones), by allowing him to draw distinctions between himself and the Republicans. I still believe that this is true, but it is undoubtedly less true now that Harry Reid kept his position as Senate Majority Leader and the effect of electing more Democrats could be the return of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

There has been much discussion about the center of gravity shifting in the party with the defeat of many of the conservative Blue dogs and the survival of more liberal Democrats in safe districts that tend to support Pelosi, but this isn’t about ideology. It’s a raw political calculation. The next Minority Leader can be liberal or moderate, but I think it’s clear that the Democrats have a better chance at electing Democrats and regaining power with someone other than Nancy Pelosi leading the party.

It’s time for Pelosi to step down and welcome a new generation of leadership to protect the gains of the last two years and  build a new foundation for electoral success in the future. Early indications are that this won’t happen, but there’s still time for a competent challenger to emerge.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.