Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Talk is increasing among House Democrats that if they fail to regain control after 12 years of a Republican majority, Rep. Nancy Pelosi should be replaced as the party's leader in the House.

If Democrats recapture the House, Pelosi surely will be the first female speaker in the nation's history. But Republican strategists are posing that possibility as a reason for voting Republican, and she will be widely blamed as a San Francisco liberal if there is a Democratic failure in November. Pelosi's colleagues complain about her public performances, especially on NBC's "Meet the Press" May 7.

The highly regarded Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, second-ranking in the House hierarchy as Democratic whip, ordinarily would be in line to succeed Pelosi. However, tension between Pelosi and Hoyer has been so great that many Democrats would prefer somebody not identified as her antagonist. Consequently, there is speculation about Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a second-termer who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as Pelosi's logical replacement.


House Republicans are blaming their former staffer, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, for the constitutional crisis triggered by the FBI's raid on Rep. William Jefferson's Capitol Hill office.

While there is a difference of opinion on the constitutionality of the raid, Capitol Hill is united in opposition to the Justice Department's tactics. House Republicans were outraged by leaks suggesting, without apparent justification, that Speaker Dennis Hastert, a critic of the raid, is under investigation in the Jack Abramoff scandal. It also was leaked that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and McNulty threatened to resign if President Bush returned documents seized in the Jefferson raid.

These tactics reminded House Republican staffers of McNulty, as a longtime House Judiciary Committee staffer and more recently as a U.S. Attorney in Virginia.


Conservative critics of Treasury Secretary-designate Henry Paulson have no real hope of blocking his confirmation but would like to rough him up enough to prevent him from pressing hard for excessive environmentalist causes once he takes office.

Paulson, chairman of the Goldman Sachs investment bankers, heads the Nature Conservancy land conservation organization. While a George W. Bush "Pioneer" who raised $100,000 for the president's re-election campaign, Paulson has been a heavy contributor to environmentalist causes (including the Kyoto global warming treaty) opposed by the administration.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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