Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pelosi elected House minority leader, Democrats avoid self-destructive bloodletting

As expected, House Democrats have chosen Nancy Pelosi as minority leader, essentially keeping the party's leadership intact after the midterms.

Last week, I wrote about why this is a good idea. Basically, in ensures unity and continuity at a time when Democrats need to move forward by defending their impressive record (health-care reform, Wall Street reform, the stimulus, the bailouts, etc.), not by making a show of throwing out those who helped guide the party to those successes. Changing the leadership, including forcing Pelosi out, would have been an unwarranted admission of failure and an insecure act of cowardice, an expression of fear and weakness, essentially a self-vote of non-confidence.

There was every reason to believe the Democrats would undermine their credibility, and choose weakness over strength, fear over self-confidence, but I applaud them for doing the right thing.

But allow me to object strenuously to the headline at Politico: "Nancy Pelosi survives Democratic revolt."

What revolt? Blue Dog Heath Shuler challenged Pelosi for the top spot, but the vote was 150-43, hardly a close one. Did Shuler try to lead a revolt? Not really. He and others thought that Pelosi shouldn't be leader and launched a fairly mild challenge. (Surely they knew they weren't going to win.)

And given that the Democrats won in a number of conservative seats in both '06 and '08, it's hardly surprising that Pelosi has her critics and that, post-defeat, there was an effort to push her out. That's what happens when a party loses. There's always some clamour for fresh blood. 

In the very first paragraph, the Politico piece states that Democrats in the House are "fractured," even if the challenge to Pelosi was merely "quixotic" -- that is, if I may thesaurusize, idealistic and impulsive. So what is it? If Shuler's challenge wasn't really to be taken all that seriously, how was it a revolt -- and how is the party fractured?

And how is it any more fractured that the other side, with Republicans at each other's throats over earmarks and with the GOP Civil War already well underway, just two weeks after a supposed "wave" election that left Obama and the Democrats supposedly shellacked?

If anything, what we're seeing from Democrats is admirable restraint, not self-destructive bloodletting. And I expect Shuler and his allies to get behind Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn and the rest of the House leadership. If the party that get through this challenging period without imploding -- and the signs are all promising -- they will be well-positioned to withstand the Republican onslaught of investigation, gridlock, and right-wing extremism and to work constructively with Obama and Senate Democrats to get things done for the American people at a time of continued economic uncertainty.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home