Voters sent a message to the president, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid that really could not be misunderstood, but this week all three gave every indication of not caring what voters thought. Harry and Nancy, after all, won re-election, and lefty pundits were quick to blame the Blue Dogs not the stimulus, Obamacare and massive special interest give-aways.
And Republicans laughed in disbelief, and then cheered Nancy Pelosi's decision to return as the Democrats' leader. Indeed it was the first display of bipartisan support for a minority leader ever. Anyone hoping to see the GOP consolidate the gains of 11/2 cheered Pelosi's decision to put her ambitions ahead of the interests of the Democrats. President Obama must be chagrined at the prospect of having Nancy as his de facto running mate in 2012 but he can't say anything. The Democrats look to be losing the Congressional contests two years in advance of the voting because they cannot bring themselves to do a moderately difficult thing now.
Will Republicans make the same mistake?
There is no denying that John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mike Pence, Pete Sessions and Kevin McCarthy did an amazing job in organizing and executing a comprehensive and incredibly successful campaign strategy. These five have earned the gratitude of the GOP caucus and indeed of the grassroots whether or not the grassroots fully appreciate their efforts.
But that gratitude does not, and should not, extend to all House Republicans and it certainly does not equal a de facto endorsement of the seniority system that controls House Committee chairmanships.
Far from it. Most conservative activists and certainly most Tea Party activists could care less about how long any particular member of the House has served. Indeed, long service may be, fairly or not, a negative in the eyes of millions who powered the GOP wave.What matters is what the individual Congressmen believe and how he or she will vote on the crucial issues facing America.
Will they stop earmarks?
Will they push repeal of Obamacare in whole and at every opportunity?
Will they support Paul Ryan's drive to put the federal government on a sustainable path and Peter King's demand for accountability from Eric Holder's Department of Justice?
The voters had an agenda in mind when they threw out scores of Democrats. And that wasn't the empowerment of long-serving lightweights who lack basic clues about what is happening and what has to be done.
Which brings us to Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus, who less than a week after the Tea Parties made history decided to slam them and Sarah Palin as the reasons why the GOP did not win the Senate.
Not only is that analysis wrong and insulting, the fact that Bachus would make such intemperate remarks and trigger such intra-party fighting in what ought to be a time of unity and purpose underscores that he is very much a Beltway Republican.
But it isn't an ordinary year, and Sarah Palin has already blasted Bachus, thus signaling to her supporters and everyone in the GOP that an early choice has to be made: the old boys or the new activists.
John Boehner didn't need the Bachus controversy, and he really doesn't deserve to have it distracting from the work of the lame duck session and the looming take over.
But it is now in his lap, and if Bachus is promoted a message will be sent even before his Speakership begins that Boehner will at least tolerate dismissiveness of the Tea Party movement.
The incoming Speaker may not like having to bump Bachus, just like Pelosi's buddies shrank from the unpleasant prospect of dumping her.
The Democrats refused to do what was necessary to begin to win back the confidence of voters. It will be a shame if John Boehner refuses to do the obvious thing at the very beginning of what could be a remarkable tenure, thus endangering that very success.