There's an interesting storyline playing out in the corridors of the U.S. Capitol this week. Yes, Congress is in its fall recess, members having returned home for the last stretch of campaigning before that first Tuesday in November. But all is not so quiet on the Eastern front; the Washington punditocracy is still flourishing, reading the tea leaves to discover the fate of every House and Senate incumbent.
What ultimately happens on Election Day will certainly impact the makeup of House and Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle. Many are speculating just how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, will govern in a new era with far fewer Democrats and, most likely, a lost majority.
Last week, some Hill papers openly wondered what type of vengeance a scorned Pelosi would exact on those who dared to question her decisions and legislative strategies that put the rank-and-file in such dire straits.
Such predictions on Pelosi's future behavior and how she'll handle those unfaithful members are misguided and a waste of time. No matter what happens on Election Day, less than a month from today, Mrs. Pelosi will not be speaker of the House in 2011 and may not be leading Democrats in Congress at all.
There are three primary reasons for this conclusion.
The first is obvious — it goes without saying that a GOP takeover means the end of Pelosi as House Speaker; Republicans won't vote her as Speaker. However, Pelosi is too liberal, not only for the country, but even her caucus. Few constituents realize that the first vote each member takes soon after he or she is sworn in is a vote for the Speaker. Up until this year, not many cared.
But when so many are losing their jobs, and realizing the policies of the Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid Congress are partially to blame, they begin to wonder why a Heath Shuler out of rural North Carolina, for example, would dare to support such a diametrical political opposite to their views and way of life.
Put simply, incoming freshman Democrats as well as sophomores who barely survive this cycle will look up from the ashes and heaps of political rubble and realize they can't afford to go through that firestorm again, no matter how much money Mrs. Pelosi raises from her San Francisco liberal friends. Want to know who else understands that viewpoint? House Majority Leader (and moderate) Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. He gets it. Through it all, he has remained loyal, but quiet; staying in the shadows and watching this vignette unfold.