"We don't agonize. We organize," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chimed after an editorial board meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday. 2014 is probably not her favorite year. In 2010, the Democrats lost the House, and she lost the speakership. Polling suggests Democrats will lose more seats in November. Pelosi has become the other face of the Democratic Party, second only to the unpopular President Barack Obama. Republicans raise money by dangling her name in front of donors. She even mused about leaving Washington. Someday.
Now even the rare Democrat is moving away from the party leader. "I am not Nancy Pelosi," Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, declared. She is challenging Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla. At a recent debate, Graham chastised her fellow Democrats for playing up the so-called GOP "war on women" and faulted Pelosi for pushing through the Affordable Care Act without Republican votes.
Even if Democrats lose seats, expect Pelosi to hang on to her leadership position. After all, she has raised more than $400 million for fellow Democrats during her dozen years as their leader. This year, her office boasts, she raised more than one-third of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's haul. It is a testament to Madam Leader's discipline that she can raise all that cash and nonetheless denounce the GOP for its ties to "big money."
This year, Capitol Hill staffers named Pelosi the "most partisan" House member in an informal survey by Washingtonian. Be it noted, last year Pelosi told USA Today that Obama is "one of the most practically nonpartisan presidents" she's ever seen.
When I asked her whether she is polarizing, Pelosi answered, "I think they're trying to make me a polarizing figure. I think the president has really assumed that role in this election. I don't think they're paying much attention to me, but if they were, it's just a demonstration of the bankruptcy of their ideas."
All she really cares about, Pelosi asserted, is the Affordable Care Act.
It was vintage Pelosi. "My being speaker is the least important thing to me," she said. And: "I don't know why we all sit around and talk about these things." At 74, Pelosi has begun to hint at retirement -- maybe after the big Democratic wins she foresees in 2016. "If we were to win and I didn't have to worry about these things anymore," she told the Chronicle, "I'm back in the city." She meant San Francisco, where she is seen as a moderate, not Washington.
But then, Pelosi has to talk about 2016 because there's not much upbeat she can say about 2014. The DCCC has yanked money intended for Democratic hopefuls to bolster the sagging campaigns of endangered incumbents. The New York Times forecasts a 68 percent chance of the GOP's winning the Senate. The RealClearPolitics poll average lists Obama's disapproval rating at 53 percent.
The Dems' "war on women" mantra isn't working. The only thing the Democrats have going for them is the public's distaste for the Republican Party -- which, to paraphrase Pelosi, demonstrates the bankruptcy of their ideas.